The central San Joaquin Valley’s coffee culture is growing up. Coffee drinkers these days want specially roasted blends, coffee beans from sustainable farms and brews with unbeatable flavor.
And as the demand for a more sophisticated coffee grows, so does the number of players in the local coffee industry. In the last several years, the region has seen an uptick in new coffee-related businesses, from coffee roasters to mobile coffee carts.
“There is a group of people out there who want the best,” says Rick Reeves, owner of Two Cities Coffee Roasters in Clovis. “And I see us moving towards that.”
Coffee aficionados like Reeves welcome this new wave of interest in coffee. He says past coffee trends focused on making coffee available to the masses, as in the rise of Starbucks. But people have upped their coffee game and are searching for something more. It’s not unlike the craft beer phenomenon in the attention to detail, varieties and specialization.
“Our coffee is carefully picked and carefully sourced,” Reeves says. “As coffee brewers we work on ratios of water to coffee, the temperature of the water, numerous variations – all in the attempt to create the perfect cup of coffee.”
Tamara Oldziewski, one of the owners of Mavericks Coffee Co. in Visalia, says people are increasingly willing to pay for quality coffee.
“Everyone is learning about what they’re buying, what they’re eating or drinking,” she says. “The more you know about it, the more you want quality.”
Avid coffee drinker Chris Telesmanic of Clovis says he sees people and businesses getting more interested in the quality of coffee, where the coffee comes from and how it’s brewed.
For example, Telesmanic wants to know that his favorite double espresso with steamed soy milk comes from a single place with quality coffee and a grower that’s treated fairly.
He echoes the comparison to what’s happening with craft beer and microbreweries.
“That was a bigger trend in bigger cities and it slowly made its way to Fresno,” he says. “We are just on the precipice of perhaps that happening with coffee as well.”
But here’s an update on what’s happening at the Valley’s newer coffee companies, or longtime ones that are shaking things up.
Where: A new coffee shop in a bank – literally – at 501 W. Main St. in Visalia, with longtime cafe Tazzaria still down the street.
What’s new: Tazz.Coffee is a coffee shop and roastery inside Suncrest Bank. It has a large indoor and outdoor seating area. Someone from Suncrest saw a coffee shop sharing space with another business in San Francisco and decided to bring it here, says L.J. Lara, general manager for the Jessen Group, which owns several restaurants, including Glick’s and Co.
Coffee shops are increasingly sharing space with businesses in other cities. It’s easier to survive on the slim margins from food and coffee when another business shares the rent, he says.
Tazz.Coffee sells bags of beans and grounds and all kinds of drinks, including its most popular, the fog lifter: espresso, simple syrup and half-and-half shaken over ice.
Where: Coffee shops at 518 Clovis Ave. in Clovis and 1900 Echo Ave., Fresno.
What’s new: This big player in the Valley coffee scene has been around for about four years but recently started roasting and selling its own beans. Kuppa Joy rents space for its roaster in a former fruit packing warehouse at the southwest corner of Shepherd and Willow avenues in Clovis. The building is across the street from the Enzo’s Table store. Both buildings are owned by the Ricchiuti family of P-R Farms, which also sells local coffee at Enzo’s Table and soon, Kuppa Joy’s.
Kuppa Joy has five roasts and sells bags of beans at the coffee shops. The fire blend is the most popular, a blend of a natural Ethiopian beans and washed Nicaraguan beans roasted darker than normal.
Keep an eye out for: Kuppa Joy is scouting around for a place to open a third coffee shop, possibly in downtown Fresno or north Fresno.
Also, expect more changes at the former fruit-packing warehouse as the Ricchiutis hope more food companies rent space there.
Mavericks Coffee Co.
What’s new: The Mavericks Coffee Co. shop got new owners last summer after more than a dozen years, with the previous owner still selling the coffee wholesale.
What’s hot: The most popular drinks are pour-over coffees made with Mavericks smooth Peruvian roast or Midnight Ride, a blend of Peruvian and a dark French roast. A pour over is when a device holding a filter is placed atop a cup and the hot water slowly poured over the grounds, a process that takes several minutes.
Two Cities Coffee Roasters
Where: 110 West Pontiac Way, Suite 111, Clovis, is home to their roasting facility. The company sells its beans through several outlets, including farmers markets, Enzo’s Table in Clovis and the Frappe House at Northside Christian Church in Fresno. You can also order freshly roasted coffee online at www.twocitiescoffee.com.
What’s new: Two Cities has a coffee cart they use at events and they are putting the final touches on converting a vintage trailer for use as a mobile coffee bar.
What’s hot: The company roasts coffee beans from all over the world and one of their best sellers is a specialty blend of beans they call the Pismo. It’s a medium-dark to dark roast with a full-bodied taste.
Cold Mountain Coffee Company
Who: Cold Mountain Coffee is a mobile coffee bar that provides coffee services, including pour overs, espresso and cold brew. The owners, Ismael and Tammy Mendoza are baristas for hire and can make lattes and other specialty coffees for weddings, corporate events, and private parties. They can be reached at www.coldmountaincoffee.com.
Where: You can find the mobile coffee bar at several public events, including Art Hop, the Fresno High Flea at Echo and McKinley avenues on May 6 and the Old Town Flea Market at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds, May 13th and 14th.
What’s hot: Cold Mountain Coffee is known for its flavored syrups. It’s most popular is the sweet bourbon Madagascar vanilla bean. “It’s really refreshing in a cold brew or latte,” says Ismael Mendoza.
One Eleven Coffee
Where: 111 W 7th St #103, Hanford. A full-service coffee house that serves coffee, espresso, cold brew and blended drinks that opened about a year ago.
What’s new: Pour overs are big deal at One Eleven. The baristas use the Clever Coffee Dripper for the discerning coffee drinker. The dripper holds the water for two or three minutes and then dispenses it versus pouring straight through.
What’s hot: One Eleven’s coffee horchata is a must try. The drink combines cold brew coffee with the flavor of horchata, the popular Hispanic rice drink.
There are even more coffee places making a go of it in the area. The growing Clovis-based company Rare Earth Coffee is selling its coffee at grocery stores. Regular food page readers may remember Bethany Clough’s column last week about the brand, which has counters inside three Johnny Quik stores, some with drive-thrus. More locations are coming.
Another coffee shop sure to get some attention is The Brew Fix, which is gearing up to open the corner of Fulton and Calaveras streets in downton Fresno soon.