What a week we’ve had in the coffee world. Monday feels like weeks ago, but it wasn’t. It was on Monday. So instead of throwing anything else new at you, we’re going to take a look back at the things that got people buzzing on the social medias.
#BlackCoffeePDX: With a sold out show in Portland, Oregon that raised $2000 for Brown Girl Rise and Sankofa Collective NW, the #BlackCoffeePDX event from Michelle Johnson was a smashing success, with much of the conversation continuing on Twitter.
I’m in fucking awe of the pure excellence of the people around me. This entire night was on some other shit, and I couldn’t be more excited for what every single one of these people in #blackcoffeepdx are going to achieve just for being their unapologetic selves.
— Michelle Johnson (@meeshal) April 24, 2018
My heart is so full in a way it hasn’t been for a long time. Real talk and hot tea: life has been hitting me very hard recently, but tonight made all that growth, uncertainty, fear worth it. I am so thankful and hopeful and inspired 💯
— D. (@deezz_nutz) April 25, 2018
For those unable to attend, the audio podcast and video will be dropping very soon, so watch this space!
Coffee ASMR: Some call it creepy (me), some call it tingly (me again, but in an uncomfortable way), but autonomous sensory meridian response (or ASMR, as in, “sucks to your ASMR“) videos are here to stay. And now, there are ASMR videos for coffee lovers. So if you want to fall asleep I guess, or whatever it is you do to these videos, now you can do it with coffee.
Compostable Bags: Staff writer Anna Brones, whose excellent piece on compostable coffee bags ran a little over a year ago, checks in on the degradation process after some six months in the compost heap. The results thus far have been mixed.
— Anna Brones (@annabrones) April 27, 2018
Do they not have to go through an industrial composting facility?
— Mat North (@matnorth) April 27, 2018
Stirring Coffee: Early this week, we reported on the Stricle, an electronic coffee stirring devices looking to replace stir sticks. We weren’t super psyched on it because, well, it’s kinda dumb. The responses on social media haven’t been much better.
Some idiot is going to use this without a lid and get hot coffee everywhere. There’s gotta be some better solution than a $350 spinner
— Dillon Fearns (@dilski) April 25, 2018
What a week. We’ll see you back here on Monday.
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Coffee is adept at crossing borders. From the coffee we drink to the machines we brew it on, this is one of the most international substances known to man. That’s part of the fun—the global connectivity, and the endless possibilities and outcomes contained therein. In late March 2018, our partners at Royal Coffee Inc. held their first-ever international outreach event series in Japan. This four-part event series was titled “Green Coffee Movement,” and hosted by Royal GM Richard Sandlin in Tokyo, Osaka, and Gunma.
Sandlin is helping spearhead the company’s ongoing growth in Japan, with an eye towards more events and future expansion. In this way Royal joins an ongoing effort at cultural and business exchange between Japan and the United States, which has roots going back many years. On the American side, brewing products by Japanese brands like Hario, Kalita, and Takahiro have long been popular choices for brewing in the cafe and at home; beautiful cold drip towers and siphons made by brands like Oji and Yama continue to draw oohs and ahhs in American cafes; and Japanese entrepreneurs like Hiroshi Sawada and Hidenori Izaki have opened popular cafes and remain in-demand consultants. Meanwhile there are a growing number of American coffee brands branching out to Tokyo and beyond, including a growing number of proprietary cafes from Blue Bottle; a wildly busy Verve location at Shinjuku Station; and a dedicated wholesale partnership for Stumptown at Paddler’s Coffee, now with multiple locations in Tokyo.
Into this milieu steps Royal, with Sandlin as a not-so-secret weapon. He’s lived previously in Japan; his spouse was born in Sendai; he speaks the language fluently, and has even contributed writing on Japan’s coffee scene to this website. This showed at Royal’s recent event series, attended by a relaxed mix of roasters, baristas, industry notables and coffee lovers, with whom Sandlin chatted with casually in Japanese.
The Tokyo event was held at FabCafe, and Sandlin treated the crowd to a crash course on Royal’s services as a green coffee importer, including the company’s detailed record keeping on every facet of inventory. This information, as per Sandlin, helps inform Royal’s customers before, during, and after their purchasing of the beans. Joining Sandlin at the event was the microroasting brand Ikawa, and the application MineDrip. These two were introduced once Royal’s presentation was completed, after which the group broke out into a series of stations focused on Ikawa’s sample roasting prowess, a comparative tasting area, and a demo station for MineDrip.
The evening in Tokyo closed with a cupping, featuring a half-dozen current offerings from Royal’s catalogue, available to potential customers in Tokyo. What followed was an open exchange of flavor perceptions, as much a chance to mingle as it was a formal evaluation. The Tokyo coffee scene, though deeply international, is also quite close knit, and during events like this one you see the familiarity and camaraderie that is happily part of coffee life here. It’s not just people in the same industry at the same event, going because they feel obligated, but people with the same love and passion for coffee. Into this steps Royal Coffee of Oakland; it’s a lovely fit.
Craig Atkinson is a freelance journalist based in Tokyo. This is Craig Atkinson’s first feature for Sprudge Media Network.
Disclosure: Royal Coffee Inc. is an advertising partner on Sprudge Media Network.
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A new cafe has opened its doors in the neighborhood. Located at 945 S Boyle Ave. in Boyle Heights, the new arrival is called Asher Caffe & Lounge.
This new spot, located in the heart of downtown LA, serves up everything from homemade pastries and fresh salads to cups of milk and coffee, as well as beer and wine.
The fresh arrival has proven popular thus far, with a five-star rating out of four reviews on Yelp.
Ruriko S., who was among the first Yelpers to review the new spot on April 18, said, “My friend who was invited to the soft opening brought me here. This restaurant is so modern and cool. I had the Jackie’s Special Salad, named after the wife’s owner, this salad is so fresh and tasty. The owners were so attentive and friendly, they totally made us feel like being at home. I will definitely come back.”
And Be N. said, “I love this place! It’s too cute. The service is great, the Wi-Fi is strong and the food is good. What else could you ask?”
Intrigued? Stop in to try it for yourself. Asher Caffe & Lounge is open from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays. It’s closed on weekends.
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A woman received emergency medical attention after swallowing jagged plastic pieces in her coffee from Panera Bread, according to a lawsuit.
“I took a sip of my frozen coffee and immediately started coughing and gagging,” Cheryl Walker told NBC 5 Thursday.
Walker said she purchased the frozen coffee last week at a Schererville Panera Bread on US 41. She drove 20 minutes to work, but when she arrived she needed immediate help.
“It was to the point I thought I was going to throw up,” she said. “And I noticed little pieces in my hand.”
Walker said she found several more of the hard jagged pieces in her coffee cup and was rushed to the hospital where her stomach was pumped.
“It was very upsetting for me it was overwhelming,” she said.
Now Walker has retained an attorney and filed suit against Panera Bread.
“I think you have to bring it to their attention to find out what happened,” Walker’s attorney Walter Alvarez said. “God forbid this was a young child and had the bigger pieces they could’ve died.”
Panera did not respond to NBC 5’s request for comment.
Walker says she won’t ever go back.
“The damage that could have been done if I were to ingest those larger pieces,” she said. “It’s scary.”
Walker says before filing the suit she did reach out to Panera’s management to inform them of what she experienced, she says she hasn’t heard anything since.
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WASHINGTON — Making a cup of coffee can be as simple as filling a water tank and pressing a button. But at Blue Bottle Coffee, the process is more scientific.
There are formulas, scales and methodologies.
Blue Bottle made its way to the District last year, nearly 15 years after opening its first cafe in Oakland, California. And by the end of the summer, the West Coast company plans to have five D.C. locations, with more in the works.
New cafes mean new employees, and to make sure its East Coast brews stand up to its Bay Area reputation, Blue Bottle built a training lab inside its Union Market shop where employees learn the art of perfecting pour-overs, lattes, cappuccinos and cold brews.
“We really focus on training and development here. Every barista in every cafe is going to produce the same cup of coffee, regardless of where you go,” said Derek Henry, Blue Bottle’s Union Market cafe leader.
WTOP recently toured the D.C. coffee lab in an effort to learn a thing or two about making a better cup of Joe. After all, if there’s one thing that keeps a newsroom running, it’s coffee.
Produce a pour-over like a Blue Bottle barista
At Blue Bottle, consistency is key. That’s why baristas measure grounds, weigh the water and time each trial.
Ready to get started? Bring water to a boil and set up your pour-over equipment. You’ll need a digital scale, a coffee dripper, a carafe or cup, a filter and about 3 tbsp. of ground coffee. (Place the scale on the counter, the carafe on top of that, followed by the filter-lined dripper.)
Add the grounds to the filter and set the scale to zero. Then, pour the hot water in a circular motion over the grounds until the scale reaches 60 grams and let it sit for about 30 seconds. This first step in the brewing process is called the “bloom.”
“It’s going to let a lot of great gases out and it’s going to start secreting some of those oils that will really help the coffee extract a little bit better,” Henry said.
Repeat the pour — still moving in a circular motion — until the scale reads 150 grams. Then, take another quick break.
“Pouring in concentric circles really just ensures that all of the coffee is getting an even amount of water poured over it,” Henry said.
Follow the same step again until the scale reaches 250 grams and then 350 grams. Then, enjoy.
For now, the Union Market lab is used exclusively for employees (pour-over training, alone, takes a week, then there’s espresso, milk and latte art to learn), but Blue Bottle plans to open the space for public tastings, brew classes and coffee pairings in the future.
© 2018 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.
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Geoff Tracy and his brother Chris Tracy are now partners with the owners of Clover Restaurant Group. Photo via Chef Geoff’s.
In 1995, before he even went to culinary school, restaurateur Geoff Tracy waited tables at local American restaurant, Cafe Deluxe. Now, the namesake of Chef Geoff’s is a co-owner of the dining room where he got his start. Chef Geoff’s, which has two locations plus Lia’s, has merged with Clover Restaurant Group, which operates four locations of Cafe Deluxe plus Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill.
Clover Restaurant Group co-owner Brian Sullivan first approached Tracy a few years ago about bringing their restaurants under the same umbrella, but Tracy says the timing wasn’t right. They restarted conversations a year ago, and finalized the deal on Monday.
The new venture, called Chef Geoff’s Deluxe Hospitality, is a 50-50 split; Tracy and his brother Chris own half of the company, and Clover Restaurant Group’s Sullivan and his father Jim own the other half. The merger was also an opportunity for Tracy give his brother, previously president of Chef Geoff’s Restaurant Group, equity in the company. The brothers now have equal stakes and will run the day-to-day operations of the new group, while the Sullivans “look for new business opportunities.”
In studying the deal, the companies discovered they had similar valuations and cultures, and that the skills of their executive leadership teams dovetailed nicely. “A lot of things sort of fell into place and worked well,” Tracy says. It helped that Tracy and Sullivan—both Georgetown grads—have been friends for many years. (Their kids are on the same swim team.)
So, what does this all mean for diners?
Not too much in the near term. Chef Geoff’s will remain Chef Geoff’s, and Tortilla Coast will remain Tortilla Coast. One of the first steps will be merging the restaurants’ loyalty and gift card programs.
Behind the scenes, the group is looking to crossover some employee benefits (including discounts for dining at the other restaurants). The merger also means more purchasing power. “Hopefully, in the upcoming weeks, we can get a little better deal on apples, if you know what I mean,” Tracy says.
Going forward, the restaurant group is looking to expand its existing concepts and create some new ones. In fact, they’re already in talks with landlords.
In the meantime, the partners will be having a lot of meetings with their managers and chefs about whose systems to adopt or whether to create new ones. Tracy calls it a “strength finding tour.” Everything is on the table at this point.
“We’re really just going to ask a lot of questions,” he says.
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It’s tough to imagine outdoor dining in the dead of winter after the coldest start to a Chicago April in 137 years. But it’ll soon be a bureaucratic possibility, if not a meteorological one.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to let Chicago’s 700 sidewalk cafes stay open year-round if Mother Nature cooperates, instead of just nine months out of the year.
The year-round sidewalk café license is just one of a host of mayoral reforms to be unveiled Friday aimed at improving a small business climate that has already benefited from the consolidation of business licenses.
“The point … is not try to throw a lot of patios out in January. It’s to give businesses flexibility in terms of what we’re hearing from them,” said Chris Wheat, the mayor’s chief of policy.
Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia has been lobbying for a year-round sidewalk café license since February 2017, when temperatures soared into the 80s.
Restaurants like Gibsons on Rush were ready to open their sidewalk cafes, only to be told they would be ticketed if they opened before March 1.
“Chicago’s weather can be very unpredictable. But if we get warm days like we did in February of ’17, we would like restaurants to be able to take advantage of this,” Toia said.
“Millenials grew up with the Food Network and the Travel Channel. It’s all about an experience,” he said. “If you’re going after that millennial crowd, those restaurateurs might look at this because this is an experience. You might have more places in River North looking at it than the Gold Coast. Maybe in Logan Square or in Avondale.”
City Hall will also allow “enclosures” similar to the heated tents put up for evening weddings.
“You’re gonna have to get permits. You’re gonna have to do everything right. Restaurants will have to decide whether it’s cost-effective to do that or not,” Toia said.
Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said he’s never heard a single complaint about the nine-month outdoor cafe season being “too short.”
Reilly said he’s not opposed to extending the al fresco season. But he has concerns.
“During those three additional winter months when a cafe could be used, the outdoor furniture could end up just sitting unused, cluttering up storefronts & complicating sidewalk snow removal,” Reilly wrote in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times.
City Hall is also opening the door to what it calls “pop-up permitting.” That will allow aspiring chefs and new retailers to test their concepts in vacant restaurants and storefronts.
Toia calls it “really good for the industry.”
“Young chefs are coming to Chicago because it’s still more cost-effective than to go to San Francisco, New York or even New Orleans. They want to see will their cuisine take off here,” Toia said.
“Say I’m a young chef who doesn’t really have the capital. If I do a pop-up, then I might get investors because they’ll say, `Wow, this is gonna work.’ ”
The mayor’s plan calls for a new, “start-up license fee” of $125 — half the cost of a two-year, limited business license — to make it easier to start a brand new business.
“The most difficult time for small business is getting off the ground. We see this as a measure the city can take to reduce the cost and burden on these new and upstart entrepreneurs while they’re getting their feet under themselves,” Wheat said.
Yet another idea is to start the bureaucratic equivalent of a 24-second clock.
But instead of counting down like the basketball version, the city’s “business issuance clock” will count up — from the time an applicant pays a licensing fee until the time the license is issued.
In response to an outcry from aldermen, Emanuel also wants to institute night and weekend license inspection hours that coincide with when restaurants and nightclubs are open.
The plan also calls for creating “standard checklists” so business owners know what to expect; eliminating what the City Hall calls “antiquated regulation” and using technology to immediately deliver license inspection results.
“We still have an obligation to protect the health and safety of all Chicago residents. But at the same time, we want to make sure we’re not becoming a hindrance and putting up artificial barriers” to business, Wheat said.
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Indianapolis, there’s a coffee festival coming your way next month, and coffee is bringing some of its best friends along for the ride! Taking place May 6th at the Biltwell Event Center, the 2018 Indianapolis Cup will feature some of the Midwest’s best coffee roasters, breweries, distillers, and bakers. Pretty much everything you would need to live a very good life.
Created by Tinker Coffee, this year’s Indianapolis Cup will feature 25 vendors, including Tinker, Quills Coffee, Carabello Coffee, The Abbey Coffee Co., Indie Coffee Roasters, Mile Square Coffee, Bee Coffee Roasters, Pilcrow Coffee, and Utopian Coffee Company. To balance out all that caffeine, there will be beer from Flat12 Bierworks and Centerpoint Brewing, kombucha from Circle City, booze from Cardinal Spirits, and a handful of bakeries and ice creameries.
Sponsored this year by Modbar, Genuine Origin, Theta Ridge Coffee, and Atlas Coffee, proceeds from the Indianapolis Cup will go to Project Alianza, who provides education to children on coffee farms, and Big Car Collaborative, an Indianapolis-based non-profit arts organization.
Tickets for the event range from $15 to $35 for general admission and VIP, respectively. GA tickets “provide guests the opportunity to sample coffees, beer, wine, and baked goods from all vendors, participate in product demos, and expand their knowledge of the coffee industry,” per the press release, with the VIP tickets providing “access to a private coffee cupping featuring coffees from Tinker Coffee, Quills Coffee, Carabello Coffee, and The Abbey Coffee Co.” Tickets can be purchased via the Indianapolis Cup’s Eventbrite page.
It all happens Sunday, May 6th from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Biltwell Event Center. For more information on the event, visit the 2018 Indianapolis Cup Facebook event page.
*top image via the Indianapolis Cup
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This Texas tale started out as a family affair: When Sean Henry started Houndstooth Coffee in 2010, his brother, Paul Henry, came to work for him as a barista. Since their initial launch, the brothers have continued to gradually expand the company, which now runs six cafes: three in Dallas (where Sean is based) and three in Austin (where Paul is based), as well as the roastery Tweed Coffee. Their latest addition is a new cafe in East Austin that offers coffee during the day and extends into the late hours with beer, wine, and cocktails.
On the day we visit the new Austin location, Paul is wearing a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I can see a bit of Texas tattooed on his arm. I ask him about it and it turns out it’s actually the same logo that’s on my espresso mug: the state of Texas on one side, the Houndstooth fedora logo on the other. He brings up his childhood—he was raised in the suburbs of Dallas—and I ask him how being Texan plays into his business. “There’s a hospitality and swagger to Texas that’s hard to find elsewhere,” he says. “There’s something magic about it.”
The Henry brothers have worked to bring that magic to the new location, which is intended to be more of an all-day hangout than just a cafe for morning fuel. “It seems a lot of people don’t hang out in the same place in the evenings that they do in the mornings,” says Paul. To help facilitate that idea in the new Austin space, Houndstooth is drawing from its experience with its successful Dallas cocktail bar Jettison. “We want to borrow a little bit of what happens up there and bring it down here,” says Henry. Cocktails at the East Austin Houndstooth will include Jettison favorites such as the Red Headed Oaxacan, a smoky agave version of a Penicillin with reposado, mezcal, ginger honey, lemon, and a spray of Bowmore 12-year-old Scotch whisky, and the Earl’d Fashion’d, made with bonded bourbon, orange and Angostura bitters, and maple syrup smoked with Earl Grey tea.
But while there are alcoholic drinks on offer, the space feels more like a comfortable neighborhood hangout than a chic bar. Paul tells me the story of his grandfather, who was known for wearing a fedora (another nod that Houndstooth makes to family heritage). One day his grandfather was eating at a restaurant in Lubbock, Texas, where he was a regular, and accidentally left his fedora behind. The next day when his grandfather returned, the hat was waiting for him. Paul likens this to the feeling that they are trying to create in all the Houndstooth cafes, one that’s focused on hospitality and community, ensuring that everyone feels welcome. “I see you, I know you, you’re safe here,” says Paul.
Order the house blend at Houndstooth and you’ll be served Timepiece, another family nod, this time to the Henrys’s father, a watch collector. Besides passing along watches to his sons, their father has also passed along a business sense. “For years my dad would say, ‘Do the right thing,’” he says. “As long as you live within your means, you’ll be fine.” The company has never taken outside funding, and as Paul puts it, “We do things that make fiscal sense.”
But that doesn’t mean that they’re not willing to try new things. On the contrary, they are open to new ideas and challenges, but with a healthy dose of pragmatism. “We try and make our own mistakes but we try not to make the same mistake twice,” says Paul.
Despite a lot of growth over the past few years, “we’re still a personal company, a family company,” says Paul. That means putting a big focus on investing in their staff. Most of the Houndstooth staff is full-time and they all have company health insurance. “What I love is helping our staff become who they want to become,” says Henry. That focus on people, be they staff or customers, is ultimately what weaves all of the elements of Houndstooth together.
“If we can bring good people and good coffee together, we can create a pattern that will last a long time,” says Paul.
Anna Brones (@annabrones) is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in the American Pacific Northwest, the founder of Foodie Underground, and the co-author of Fika: The Art Of The Swedish Coffee Break. Read more Anna Brones on Sprudge.
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A chance meeting while on the road led Steel Wheels to steer their musical buggy in a new direction. Steel Wheels, which formed a decade ago in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, was on tour as opening act for singer/songwriter Josh Ritter when the band’s members befriended Sam Kassirer, who has both played keyboards with Ritter and produced albums for him. With a new recording project approaching, the band says on its website, they had been discussing producers and recording sites and “they chose to follow their instincts all the way to rural Maine, where Kassirer owns a recording studio inside a renovated farmhouse from the 18th century.” The four Wheels — Trent Wagler (guitar), Eric Brubaker (fiddle), Brian Dickel (upright bass), and Jay Lapp (mandolin) — hunkered down for a week and a half to create the album “Wild As We Came Here,” which was released in 2017. The album marked a shift in the band’s sound, which had been heavily acoustic and oriented toward Americana, bluegrass,, folk and old-time music. The website describes the shift: “By incorporating percussion and keyboards into the sessions for the first time, ‘Wild As We Came Here’ adds new textures to their catalog, as themes of discovery and perseverance run throughout the collection.” For newcomers to their music, “Scrape Me Off the Ceiling,” a harmony-rich relationship lament in which drums ground the lively string playing, serves as a good introduction to the band’s sound.
— Joseph Stalvey
7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. $28. Caffe Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs. 583-0022. caffelena.org.
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Paco Orocco, 25, creates a work of art on each coffee at Holy Grounds at St. Monica Catholic Community in Santa Monica, California. All the baristas the church hires for the café are formerly incarcerated youth — giving them a second chance. (Heather Adams)
Los Angeles — Jimmy Valdez danced on Skid Row, dressed in wedding attire with his bride. They handed out donated food. They celebrated their marriage in a way only someone whose life was saved from the peril of addiction could celebrate. For Valdez, that salvation started with a church preaching more than just religion but service.
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“We danced our first dance in the middle of San Pedro [Street] — middle of the grimy, gritty streets of Skid Row,” Valdez said. “It was such a beautiful, beautiful experience to see the smiles of the people there.”
Valdez, 29, grew up around violence, spent three years of his youth incarcerated and spent a majority of his 20s battling drug and alcohol addiction. He said it wasn’t until he gave his life to God and got a job at Holy Grounds, a café run by St. Monica Catholic Community in the greater Los Angeles area, that he started turning his life around.
Holy Grounds in Santa Monica, California, is part of a larger trend of coffee shops being attached to and run by churches. In the Los Angeles area, there are about a dozen of these types of coffee shops, many popping up over the last few years.
But the cafés — attached to Catholic churches — tend to have a longer history.
Holy Grounds has only been open since 2013 but plans for the store started almost 15 years ago.
Merrick Siebenaler, director of marketing communications at St. Monica Catholic Community, said it isn’t a coincidence that the door to the coffee shop is on the sidewalk — not inside the church. It was always part of the master plan when the parish first started talking about designs for its new building back in 2004, he said.
Although the parish had the space, making it all come together took teamwork from the congregation.
“We don’t know anything about running a successful coffee retail establishment,” Siebenaler said.
Holy Grounds is a coffee shop inside St. Monica Catholic Community in Santa Monica, California. The door to the café opens to the sidewalk, attracting customers from the community. (Heather Adams)
A couple of the church’s parishioners had connections to Urth Caffe, a nearby coffee shop, which helped establish a partnership and get experienced managers.
“They’ve just opened up access,” Siebenaler said.
The coffee shop is just one of 120 ministries run by St. Monica Catholic Community. They were able to use one of those ministries’ connections to give formerly incarcerated youth jobs to staff the café — giving Valdez and others like him a second chance to turn things around.
“That’s our God, second and 70 chances,” Siebenaler said.
Valdez said the café is unique in its positivity and uplifting conversations. He said that when he was behind the counter, he was supposed to be the one greeting people and asking them about their day, but sometimes it was the other way around.
“That’s one of the best things we can do is acknowledge each other,” Valdez said. “I felt acknowledged there and loved and supported.”
Valdez only left Holy Grounds because he launched a successful clothing line. He is now three and a half years sober, does motivational speaking, is pursuing an acting career and has been married for almost a year.
His story is something he shares with pride, hoping to inspire others.
“I am grateful for being able to share my story,” Valdez said. “A lot of my friends are either dead or in prison and the fact that I can tell my story is a huge blessing.”
Beyond the employees, Siebenaler said the café has made an impact on the community, too.
He said it’s been a less daunting way to invite people to the church.
“It’s really kind of a conduit, an extension for them [parishioners] to do what they’re already doing because they’re good evangelizers,” Siebenaler said.
Throughout the day, the café is filled with parents of children at St. Monica’s schools, churchgoers, and teenagers. Once inside, the church hopes people will see the advertisements for events and services that encourage them to walk through the second set of doors to the church.
Ignatius Café at St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church in Los Angeles creates a similar community space by providing fresh coffee in a beautiful paradise-like garden attached to the church.
Ignatius Café at St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church in Los Angeles is known for its fresh coffee and lemon drinks. (Heather Adams)
“God created all things. This means God is the God of all people. Not Christian, not Catholic,” said Jesuit Fr. Robert Choi, pastor of St. Agnes. “Since God is open to all people, the church must be open to the public.”
Choi said the café is like a house. The foundation of the café is “finding God in all things.”
“We find God in coffee,” Choi said.
Next, four pillars — philosophy, love, theory and technique — hold up the house. Finally, the roof is the mission statement: A cup of coffee contributes to human health.
Because of this mission statement, Ignatius Café is completely run by volunteers and donates its profits to 14 charities.
Another one of its mission statements is, “Don’t give others what you wouldn’t have yourself.” Or, in other words, don’t give others coffee that you wouldn’t drink yourself, Choi said.
“I drink good coffee. I give you good coffee, like me,” he said.
Many in Southern California know Choi as the “Coffee Priest.” He is an expert on coffee, grows coffee beans outside the café and hosts a four-hour class every few months to pass on his wisdom.
Jesuit Fr. Robert Choi, known as the “Coffee Priest,” is meticulous about his coffee. He teaches a class all about coffee, including about where his beans come from and how to make the best coffee. (Heather Adams)
The class brings in a lot of people from outside the church. It covers not only the basics of coffee but also life. Afterward, attendees must past two tests to prove their knowledge before getting a certificate. Currently, the class is only given in Korean but Choi said he’s working on his English because so many English speakers are interested.
“Coffee is not just coffee. Coffee is life,” Choi said. “Through my coffee, I want to speak about life and what is work ethics, customer-conscious. All of these things are from Jesuit charity and Catholicism.”
These types of cafés aren’t known to be profitable and typically aren’t meant to bring in money for the church, which means smaller locations might have trouble replicating this model.
“Our mission is spiritual, not temporal,” said Eileen Bonaduce, business manager at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which has Galero Grill.
The cathedral has 1 million to 2 million visitors a year and has the downtown Los Angeles community bringing in more business for the café.
Bonaduce recognizes the cathedral’s size allows it to offer unique experiences like the Galero Grill, but just like how Jesus broke bread, smaller places can do something, even if that’s doughnuts or monthly dinners after Mass.
Galero Grill serves coffee and fresh baked pastries in downtown Los Angeles. Galero Grill is located on the property of Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and attracts workers from the downtown area, Mass attendees and others. (Heather Adams)
“I just hope that every parish is able to do something to bring people together to talk, to eat, to laugh, to just be with one another. And food is one of the best ways to do it,” Bonaduce said.
Although these coffee shops aren’t going to be replacing Starbucks anytime soon, they have an important place in the community.
“What we have learned is people are still craving a community, a hub, a place to call home, a place to nest,” Siebenaler said. “That is still alive and well and that place can still be a church.”[Heather Adams is a freelance reporter based in Los Angeles. She loves talking about religion and can be found doing so on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.]
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A Northcote cafe owner accused of underpaying staff has threatened to sue those who complained “if the harassment continues”.
Current and former staff of Barry cafe in Northcote told the ABC they had been underpaid by at least $5 an hour, and that when they complained to the cafe’s owners, some workers had their shifts cancelled.
The office of the Fair Work Ombudsman has confirmed to the ABC it is now investigating those claims.
In an email sent to Anna Langford on Anzac Day, the cafe’s co-owner Steve Petroulias promised to reimburse unpaid wages, but also threatened legal action against the 20-year-old.
The email said:
I just wanted to advise you that as you will see in your payslip tomorrow or Friday (because of the holiday) I have already adjusted the wage rate to the correct award rate.
Any moneys owed to you will be paid in full according to the law.
However if the harassment continues to hurt and devalue our business each one of you Will be sued individually and collectively.
Nine current and former staff of Barry cafe raised their concerns about underpayment earlier this month, but a request to meet as a group was rejected by Mr Petroulias, who said he would only meet with staff individually.
Last Friday, a further request to meet as a group was again rejected. That night, several staff — including Ms Langford — were advised that their shifts had been cancelled indefinitely.
On Monday, staff protested outside the cafe, along with members of the hospitality union United Voice.
Ms Langford said she was stunned and angered when she received the email yesterday.
“We thought that after the protest they would finally start to work with us,” she said.
“I can’t think what they would be wanting to sue us for. They us the word ‘harassment’.
“But I can’t see how us telling the truth is harassment, when they refused to work with us for so long.”
‘We had to call the police’ over rally outside cafe
Cafe co-owner Anne Petroulias told the ABC she feels harassed.
“They had one big rally, and we had to hire guards, and we had to call the police,” she said.
“Some of the people here, the customers were scared. Two old ladies called the police themselves.
“They are planning another [protest]. This is not the way to go about it.”
Ms Petroulias said Barry is the first cafe she and her brother Steve have owned. She says they were told weekend penalty rates could be traded off for staff meals.
“We had no idea about wage rates or anything. My brother looked on Google, and got the wage rates. I know we did wrong and we want to rectify anything,” she said.
“The value of our business is really gone to zero. We paid a lot of money to come here a year and a half ago and it’s all borrowed money. We are going to lose our house because of that. We don’t know what to do. It’s really difficult for us.”
Ms Langford said she was pleased the owners had promised to reimburse unpaid wages.
“I’ve also been told that the breaks at work are now half an hour instead of 15 minutes. They are changing what they have to, but they are still behaving outrageously to us,” she said.
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