Local Couple Noriel and Christine Bermudez Run Their Lomita Coffee Shop with Purpose
Go with the flow.
- CategoryEat & Drink, People
- Written & photographed byAnthony Karambelas
Since Noriel and Christine Bermudez—known by their nicknames Nor and Tin—opened Corridor Flow in September 2019, the spot has been the hidden gem of the South Bay. Inside one finds a cozy, well-lit lounge with modern decor.
It’s the kind of place that appeals to all parties. For students, it’s a quiet study space. For parents, it’s a refuge where you can kick up your feet and sip a hot latte while your kids scamper around in a carpeted playpen.
As for the name? “If you imagine a hallway, there’s a bunch of doors, right? And we all meet in a common space,” says Nor. “I mean, corridor sounds cooler than hallway.”
In late 2017, Nor and Tin were disappointed. Family-friendly, independent establishments where people could unplug just didn’t exist in Lomita. Not anymore, at least. Nor and Tin used to frequent Awakenings, a Lomita café that hosted church services on Sundays, until it closed in 2010—leaving some big shoes to fill. Seven years later and still no takers, Nor and Tin stepped up to the plate.
Tin wanted something in the vein of Coffee Cartel, the Redondo Beach seaside cafe known for its couches and hipster vibe. But space was hard to come by, and the cafe would need lots of it. The typical building size in Lomita—1,200 square feet—may have been suitable for a trinket shop, but it wasn’t going to cut it for what they had in mind. Neither would the 6,000-square-foot space they saw for lease inside a State Farm office building down the road.
“We started scheming about it,” explains Tin. “What if there were more people who wanted to do this—other vendors or businesses?”
But at the time, this seemed like a tall order. Tin was working full time as a facility engineer at Disneyland, while Nor was working as a nurse in the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. When Tin’s contract with Disney expired, the two sold their Carson home and applied the seed money toward the café.
Little did they know, their ticket had been hovering right under their noses. For a year and a half, an abandoned auto shop opposite Lomita Elementary School had been up for lease. Because the place was shuttered, Tin and Nor never really took notice. But when a yoga studio held an event there in the summer of 2018, they finally caught a glimpse of the interior.
“If we didn’t take this spot,” says Nor, “the owner was going to make it into a furniture store. And that would have been one of the biggest regrets of our lives.”
“We are not in the business of coffee. We’re not in the business of transactions. We’re here for people.”
In May 2019, just months before the soft opening, they took a vision trip to Portland —the mecca of foodies. All that preparatory work paid off when they held their grand opening in October 2019. The place experienced such a great turnout that within two months they added six hours to their weekly operating schedule.
Corridor Flow’s fanbase is loyal and growing. It’s the affability of the baristas and the quality of the drinks that keep them coming back. Unlike the superautomatics at Starbucks, Corridor Flow’s grinders have to be dialed in every morning and throughout the day.
Tin and Nor source their beans from quality wholesaler Stereoscope Coffee Company in Buena Park. They gravitate toward medium to light roast, but the baristas are happy to accommodate. Every week a Stereoscope roaster drives up to deliver a fresh batch.
Nor shares, “I told him, ‘I have people that go around your area. They could take it to us.’ And he said to me, ‘No, no, I love to come here.’ That’s specialty coffee.”
When Governor Gavin Newsom issued the safer-at-home order in March, Nor felt torn between two worlds. On the one hand, as a health professional he understood the need to close down all shops. On the other, he saw his vision collapsing.
Corridor Flow was never meant for pickup. It was designed around people sharing a space. Eventually, he’d have to bite the bullet.
“When you have a computer virus in your computer, what’s the first thing you do? You unplug it, right? You reset it,” he says. Online, Corridor Flow continues the work it started, nurturing its relationships with the Lomita community.
They’ve donated coffee to local hospitals, grocery stores, fire departments and police stations. To keep afloat, they sell half-gallons online and are continually expanding their menu offerings.
“We are not in the business of coffee,” says Nor. “We’re not in the business of transactions. We’re here for people.”