Luminous Coffee Roasters has taken the specialty coffee scene by storm in 2019 and now into early 2020. Their coffee is truly incredible, their packaging is next-level (did somebody say Chinese take-out boxes), and Mason & Lexus who are the team behind Luminous are two of the most passionate and creative people I have ever met.
If you have yet to get your hands on some of the coffee then I suggest that this becomes one of the things that rises to the top of your “to-do” list when it comes to purchasing coffee this year. I seriously cannot speak more highly of Luminous and I am so humbled that they agreed to let me feature them this month as the March “Coffee Roaster of the Month”.
Truthfully I can’t remember exactly when I first heard about them, but I know that it wasn’t too long after they first launched in and around May 2019. But from the moment I first saw their branding, their packaging, and everything that goes into their philosophy of “always extra” I was hooked.
Fast forward a few months and nothing made me happier than noticing a post on their Instagram account that they had recently dropped off their coffee at Dayglow in Los Angeles just days before I was to arrive there for holidays. I quickly sent Daylgow a DM and begged them to hold some for me. They did, and days later I arrived and finally had gotten my hands on some of their coffee.
Their Naturally processed Honduran was so amazing that I included it in my Top 3 Coffee’s of 2019. All of this is why I knew I needed to include Luminous as one of my monthly coffee roaster features. So enough of my rambling, let me share you the story of Luminous Coffee.
[CommonlyCoffee] Q: So who is the team behind Luminous Coffee?
[MASON] We are all from all over but from Las Vegas, I, myself, grew up in La Costa, California and have been in Vegas for 11 years! Lexus was born here in Vegas but lived in the Philippines for most her childhood and Vlad (the third member of our team) has been in Las Vegas for about 12 years and is from Moldova!
[CC] So how did you all end up in Las Vegas?
[LUMINOUS] Good question! Each of us ended up here for a variety of reasons, but life has a way of working things out and we are all together now!
Q: So what is your backstory in specialty coffee?
[MASON] Well for me I started coffee in one shop in Las Vegas and worked from the ground up to be behind the bar this was in late 2009. From there I quit about 4 years into it in 2014 to do begin pursuing Luminous but that path had some of its own twists & turns. Fast forward a bit… and from 2017 till late 2019 I worked for and helped start a coffee consulting group working all around the country teaching people how to roast coffee and fix roasters and setup facilities etc… I ended up quitting that job after not liking the work environment or ethics of that employer.
[LEXUS] Unintentionally I applied for a job at a local coffeeshop in Las Vegas around 2015 and had the opportunity to learn about coffee and was able to see that I had a passion for this and liked parts of the coffee culture. I also loved the design aspect of coffee shops and felt that one day I want to open my own space that was my style and bring something different. I quit in mid 2017 and have been learning more and more about what goes on behind the scenes of creating a coffee business and love the aspect of always creating ideas. It was also while working there that I met Mason!
[CC] Q: Can you tell us a bit more about this history of Luminous?
[MASON] Well Luminous originally begin in mid 2014 (like I said previous, this journey had some twists & turns) where we had a full concept coffee bar that would be very similar to what current trends are for coffee shops. It would be a full multi-roaster coffee program bringing 20 to 30 roasters a year with a dark romantic space. We got all the way to half build-out and then unfortunately our third partner who was funding it had some hard-life things come up so we had to stop. I went back to the previous shop I worked for and that’s where Lexus and I began.
There is much more to this story but that is a conversation to sit down and talk about another day! A few years went by and Lexus and I quit that job and decided to give Luminous a try again in mid 2017 and do it from the ground up. This time it would be a new concept with no partners and no loans, and we would just fund with time and our paychecks little-by-little, and mid 2019 we launched the concept. But yeah that’s a good place to start on Luminous!
[CC] I think that is a great story. So how did you end up with the name Luminous for the company?
[LUMINOUS] Well we wanted a word that brought happiness and creativity and learning and some how luminous came up and we just loved it and we could just tell it was going to be the name!
[CC] Q: So who were some of your early coffee influences?
[LUMINOUS] Well as a collective we have listened to all of the experienced coffee professionals and never really had one we truly go to but! We really love Jen Apodaca, Rob Hoos, Chris Baca, Patrick from April, Ecky from Greenway along with many other amazing people!
We really look outside for influence from other entrepreneurs. A great thing we recommend which Lexus got us all into is “How I Built This” with Guy Raz on NPR or Spotify, it really is a great listen.
[CC] Q: In your opinion, what’s the specialty coffee community like in Las Vegas? What do you love?
[LUMINOUS] Well to be honest it’s very closed off and is a little stunted in Las Vegas. People aren’t that open to transparency or growth and it seems like everyone just stays in there lane… which is not a bad thing it’s just not the way we like to do it! Our friends at Dark Moon Coffee are definitely helping us push a culture of learning for all no matter where you work and be open to all things.
But for now after traveling all around the country, coffee in Vegas is similar to many other places…a little stunted in the growth and openness to learning. But there are some pretty good shops we can recommend to you if you ever are in town!
[CC] I definitely plan to get to Las Vegas soon! I would love to check out the coffee scene there!
We love Vegas because it’s our home right now and we have grown here and want to help others grow in the coffee profession if they want to!
[CC] Q: There is no question your packaging is out of this world. How did that all come about? Who designed them? Anything special you can tell our readers about them?
[MASON] We designed our packaging after we invested lots and lots of time and thought into the process. We wanted something of a cultural piece that anyone can understand and also feel something and remember us by! We had our amazing main illustrator François Vigneault design them. We drew out a concept we wanted him to do from photos Lexus and I have taken together and that were part of the story of Luminous!
Our packaging is meant to tell stories and show others that you can do whatever you want. We want people to believe in their concept and tune out the noise of everyone else! Just do you and it will be great!
[CC] Q: You are the only coffee roaster that I know of that currently only sells their coffee through “drops.” What brought about this decision? Can you tell us a little bit more about the reasoning behind this?
[LUMINOUS] Weirdly we always liked the idea of drop concepts, meaning we plan just enough to sell and make sure it’s all sold out by the end. This helps us to be creative and control our growth and quality. Doing drops for us is a like a lifestyle. We could easily be open 24/7 but that may hinder our creativity and cause us to lose our passion.
We love the idea of always having to reinvent ourselves and be whatever we want and doing things that are really high quality and very limited! Also we like to showcase one coffee at a time, so doing it this way helps share the stories of each coffee.
[CC]: So what equipment do you roast your coffee on?
[LEXUS] We roast our coffee in Los Angeles on a Loring S15 where Mason became friends with the owner and setup his facility and we trade services for roasting and time and love them so much and they help us by letting us roast there! Also we do some drops on our friends Diedrich IR-12 when logistics don’t work out or a coffee is just better dialled in for drum roasters or direct heat!
Q: So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?
[LUMINOUS] Currently we are drinking our Brazil and our next new coffees that we have announced yet but soon will! We are also drinking our next new project too! shhhh it’s a secret for all LUMI’s!
Q: Your decision to collaborate from the very first drop with ceramic artists like Brian Giniewski was quite a unique approach. How did that partnership come about?
[LUMINOUS] Well we have always been addicted to ceramics and cupware but started buying from Brian and other Ceramists back in 2017. We had our designer make a box telling Brian’s story and we wanted all future Ceramists to see how committed we are to helping them grow. One of those ways is that we will pay for custom packaging for you, and do it really cool, and let your craft in ceramics show with us.
We now have over 7 great Ceramists we work with, and many more in the works. It takes a lot to get this going since we have them make our own colour-ways we pick!
Q: Your tag line is “always-extra”. What do those words mean to you?
[LEXUS] “always-extra” means to always do everything to it’s fullest extent! Don’t let an idea get watered down just because others say it’s to much, or you can cut corners because it’s cheaper or easier. Do it the extra way to showcase your passion and others will see and do it too!
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell the readers of commonly coffee?
[LUMINOUS] We want everyone that finds luminous or orders from us to know they are apart of luminous and something bigger then coffee we are trying to make some that’s not the same but different and motivates others to follow there dreams and succeed and be transparent about there intentions and practices!
Find their beans:
If you’re looking to get your hands on some beans then definitely check out their drop-store for what they’re currently roasting! But know that the drop store is only open on selected dates & times.
If you don’t want to miss out on a drop, then sign up to be a LUMI at the bottom of their site.
Thank you so much to LEXUS, MASON & VLAD for sharing about Luminous Coffee Roasters and for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in Las Vegas! Keep up the great work!
Wanna get to know Luminous even more? Check out these YouTube videos:
Scrub to 3:40 on the video below to watch Chris Baca share more about Luminous.