By Pablo Lara, Assistant Editor. Photos by Julie Rings, Contributor.

I was at the East Village, feeling nervous for my date. The City Library towered over the new apartment buildings, giving me serenity as it shadowed the urban space. 

I had a date. This called for a romantic meeting place, somewhere beautiful yet relaxed.  The Bean Bar met my qualifications.  

Nothing relaxes me like a fragrant and flavorful shot of espresso, and the word on the street is Bean Bar has it.  Arriving before my date, I found myself immediately distracted. My gaze drifted  across the espresso machine with curiousity. Her name, Kees van der Westen. She was a unique beauty. Reminiscent of art deco. I could barely look away.

She was a Dutch gal, dressed in Retro lines but with a modern core. I strategically chose a table near her. My date ordered a pour-over bringing a silky sweet cup of La Colmena Honduras to our table.

While we wondered who roasted the complex light roasts served here, Sandra, Bean Bar co-owner, came to check on our experience. Feeling comfortable and welcomed, I asked who roasted their coffee. 

With a huge smile, Sandra delivered an inspiring narrative of her encounter with 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters of Vancouver, British Columbia. The story began with Sandra and her business partner, Jason. Having solidified a business plan for a coffee shop in San Diego, these avid travelers and coffee lovers began the search for an outstanding roaster.

Traveling up the west coast, they had reached Vancouver. Here, after a long coffee-fueled journey, they stumbled upon the headquarters and roasting facility of 49th Parallel. The passion and charisma of the team there made a great impression on them.  They were invited to a cupping, where great coffees and conversations blew them away. 

Laura Perry, green coffee buyer for the company, arrived as Sandra and Jason finished cupping. Having just returned from a sourcing trip, she shared stories, projects and pictures with them. Such a sincere devotion of time, and the great coffee won over the soon to be business owners.

I walked to the counter and noticed a scrumptious selection of pastries made by Sugar and Scribe, a local baking company based in Pacific Beach. But I had one thing on my mind: espresso. Jason meticulously pulled me a shot of an Ethiopia Tencho. The orange blossom aromas were rich  and perfectly complemented by flavor notes of chocolate, berries and a vibrant acidity.

While my date talked about her day I began daydreaming. I imagined myself behind the espresso bar, extracting and steaming with "Kees". She was no longer a mere machine, but something alive, begging to be called by name. 

Adorning the bar was a beautiful tamper. The perfect accessory for my lovely Kees. My acute distraction assured that my date just wasn't working out. By this time my date had already left, but not without first purchasing a bag of Guatemala San Juan. 

I left Bean Bar with delicious memories of Kees on my mind. Discovering that the Library was still open, I made my way to the Relationship & Self-Help section, looking for the most recent edition of Dating for Dummies.

If you want to grab an amazing cup of coffee, and witness the beautiful Kees in action, visit the Bean Bar. Open Monday-Saturday from 7am to 5pm, and Sundays from 8am to 5pm.