Food & Drink

New downtown coffee shop at Bitwise uses locally roasted beans

Valparaiso’s owner talks about the building he’s leaving behind.

Mario Vargas talks about the coffee shop he opened in 2016 inside Bitwise South Stadium in downtown Fresno.
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Mario Vargas talks about the coffee shop he opened in 2016 inside Bitwise South Stadium in downtown Fresno.

Downtown Fresno’s newest coffee shop, Valparaiso Cafe & Roastery, is open.

The coffee shop is at 700 Van Ness Avenue inside Bitwise Industries, the self-proclaimed “mothership of technological education, collaboration and innovation.” For us nontechies, it’s the big bright building full of entrepreneurs with small companies at the corner of Mono Street.

The coffee shop is open to the public – it’s just inside the front door – and also serves people who work in the building.

Valparaiso is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Partners Mario Vargas, Phillip Subia and Gary Christiansen are still working out Saturday hours; the shop is closed on Sundays.

The beans are roasted in Fresno, but off site. They sell coffee made with beans from specific geographic areas, say Ethiopia or Mexico. They also roast their own blend of beans from around the world to create a uniquely flavored brew.

We don’t grind any coffee until it’s ordered.

Mario Vargas, Valparaiso Cafe & Roastery

Valparaiso has all the typical drinks you can get in a coffee shop and then some: an espresso, latte, cappuccino, Americano (espresso in hot water), flavored mocha and a Cortado (espresso cut with a small amount of milk).

“That’s for the hard-core coffee drinker,” says Vargas.

The shop doesn’t do blended drinks, but anything is available over ice. Tea is available from Fresno-based Raizana Tea Co. Cold brew coffee that is surprisingly mellow has been brewed without heat for 18 to 20 hours. The trio make most of their own flavored syrups too.

Although there is pre-made coffee available for people in a hurry in the mornings, most of the time, the Valparaiso workers don’t grind the beans until a customer orders a cup. They then use a “Clever Coffee Dripper,” a device that lets them pour hot water over the grounds and filter. It’s similar to a traditional pour-over coffee, but with a little more control over how dark or light the coffee is brewed.

If you’re wondering about the name Valparaiso, it’s named after the city in Chile, where Vargas is from.

“My dream coming to this country is like everyone else – having the American dream,” he says.

In the next few weeks, customers will be able to get food to go with their coffee when Mabel’s Kitchen opens next door. Mabel’s is the same little restaurant that used to be on Kern Street. It will sell paninis, sandwiches, bierocks and baked goods.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough