Shop Spotlight: Dayglow
Our third installment of Shop Spotlight is featuring Dayglow, formerly Neon, in Silver Lake and its founder/owner, Tom Ifregen.
Tom, like many in the SoCal specialty coffee scene, came from Portola's R&D division called Theorum. Here, he and the crew specialized in coffee analysis and experimentation to better understand how it can be used in crafting beverages. Like many who came through Portola, when Theorum ended and Portola shifted towards expansion, Tom sought out new avenues to pursue his passion. After working with Bryant for a while at his shop, Bad Coffee, Tom went out on his own and opened Neon, now Dayglow.
Tom explained to us that his goal with Dayglow was to create a brand to explore coffee. What this looks like in practice is a highly curated space and brand image that stretches across all forms of media. The cafe functions more as a coffee retail space and tasting room. Dayglow works with around 30 different roasters and features a coffee subscription service where each coffee is handpicked by Tom from his available offerings.
Tom also works directly with roasters to pick green coffee to be roasted by them exclusively for Dayglow. These coffees come complete with unique packaging featuring the producer, roaster and Dayglow. Each coffee has with it specific brewing specifications to get the best experience from each one. Lastly, each comes with not just information on the coffee itself but also on the producer including openly discussing the financial compensation and support for them from the roaster and Dayglow. This concept brings a whole new level of collaboration and transparency between farmer, roaster and brewer.
Dayglow's reasoning for being a multi-roaster rather than roasting themselves is two-fold. Tom feels that the roaster market has become somewhat over-saturated. There are so many specialty roasters but very few really setting themselves apart from the pack in a positive and meaningful way. There was no need to add another name to that pool. Also, if someone is doing an excellent job at something, why not work with them rather than trying to reinvent the wheel?
The future for Tom and Dayglow is a bright one. In the coming months, a second Dayglow will be opening in downtown LA. Tom is also working with his brother on a space in Chicago which will feature coffee by Tom along with a brewery and restaurant. The world couldn't get enough of Dayglow and Tom obliged. Silver Lake, DTLA, Chicago and who knows where else?
This bright future was almost nipped in the bud early on by a controversy that surrounded Dayglow's former name, Neon. Tom was served a cease and desist from Minneapolis roaster Dogwood over the name as they had copyrighted the moniker "NEON Espresso." This forced Tom to rebrand his entire business early on which could've doomed it from the start. Instead, he bounced back stronger than ever to win a Sprudgie for "Best New Cafe." This also prompted the creation of Tom's infamous "Coffee from around the globe except Minneapolis" shirt. If you know Tom at all, you know that this shirt is clearly a jest and he holds no ill will towards Minneapolis.
Regardless of who's side you take in this dispute, we can all agree that all of us in specialty coffee should be supportive of each other rather than petty and combative. There's room for all of us to serve excellent coffee and our market here supports thousands of farmers and workers around the world. Spread good vibes and enjoy the craft just like Dayglow does.
This story was brought to you by Daydream's very own Jason Ferrall