By Jessica Percifield, SDCN Editor
By Broadway, we don't mean Broadway in NYC! Although with the wild love affair Americans are enjoying with specialty coffee, it's only a matter of time before a musical about Coffee becomes a hit. What we do mean, however, is that The WestBean, a local artisan roaster, will be opening its own storefront and serving freshly roasted beans and hand crafted coffee beverages out of the retail space near The Westgate Hotel at 240 Broadway, downtown.
They are in the process of permitting the 700 Sq. Ft. space for a build out designed by Paul Basile of Basile Studio whose work you may be familiar with if you've imbibed at Craft & Commerce, Under Belly, Ironside or Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant to name a few hot spots.
For some this may be the first you're hearing of The WestBean, however, you may have unknowingly been enjoying their espresso for years if you've frequented venues such as Kensington Cafe, Americana Restaurant in Del Mar, Alchemy in Golden Hill, Broke Girls Coffee Bar in Normal Heights, or (up until a few months ago), Lofty Coffee Co. in Encinitas.
The team of three got their start home roasting, and have come a long way as a local coffee roaster largely dependent on wholesale and online sales. Four years since they began home roasting with a quick transition into wholesaling out of a small warehouse in Mission Valley, and now they're opening a cafe of their own. Doesn't seem like long, but it has been a lot of trial by fire and hard work for this small passionate and ambitious team.
The WestBean team is excited for this opportunity to interact with their customers directly especially in the heart of America's Finest City, Andrew Karr and James Rauh agreed,
"[This is an] opportunity to express who we are as a business, as far as what our style and aesthetic is... the kind of quality that we want to bring... and just being on the cutting edge of specialty coffee here in San Diego... it will just finally be an opportunity to represent who we are to the consumer as opposed to what we are right now, which is primarily a wholesaler... And because of the location, people will come to visit San Diego on business and they'll begin to associate San Diego with this great cup of coffee that they had in this cool little shop while visiting, and in that sense we'll be exporting the idea of San Diego having great specialty coffee."
The dirty is that The WestBean hopes to be open by late September and while they're still developing their menu options, according to team member James Rauh, they plan on "Keeping it local." This entails a hush-hush custom line of pastries and other eats sourced locally, but packaged for the business clientelle who will be on-the-go. And for those who want to liesurely sip, they will have tables and chairs. Besides traditional espresso drinks via their Synesso Hydra, they will also offer a select number of high quality loose leaf teas for tea lovers, cold brew on tap, and Hario V60 pour overs. But be prepared for a few surprises especially when it comes to putting their own twist on cold brew...
Andrew Karr stops to reflect during the interview,
"The challenge with us is that we have so many ideas... even now we're still going back and forth... in as far as what everything will end up looking like... we want to do everything, but we can't do everything... it's all a work in progress."
They hope this little artisan shop will be the first of many to come. Sipping on their Ethiopian Yrigacheffe Aricha, recently given a "91" by Coffee Review, I have to say, these guys know how to treat a bean and a bean lover's taste buds. I would have given it a 94, but as I always say, taste is in the palate of the beholder.
While these guys are ambitious, driven and strategic, they are humble when it comes to coffee and the future as with each new green coffee bean they roast there is something new to be learned.
"It's been a big learning curve," said Rauh.
Karr backed him up, "There's so much to learn in coffee... and you can study the theory all you want, but until you're there roasting and doing the different coffee preparations and learning about the farms... there's just so much knowledge to be learned."
To which, after a pregnant pause, Rauh added, "This venture better work out!" as though he was sending a Hail Mary to the universe, which sparked a good natured round of laughter.
As far as the SDCN team is concerned, guys, in our humble opinion, "You got this."
If you'd like to taste what The WestBean is roasting, you can order their whole beans online, or head out to one of the events listed below. In the meantime, happy coffee-ing San Diego!
Upcoming Events for The WestBean:
Riviera Magazine: SD Food & Wine Festival - Sept. 22nd
Riviera Magazine: "To Dine For" - Sept. 25th