Earnestly made coffee. Whole coffee beans roasted in small batches on-site. Some oolong and Irish breakfast teas.
Since mid-May owner Daniel Holcomb has overseen this willfully spare, coffee-geek café.
The sound bounces around, but the Collective looks great: The narrow, art gallery-like space was fashioned by the designer of Bottlecraft’s indie beer shop in Little Italy.
The floors are polished concrete. The banquettes and table tops are the result of artisan woodcrafting. On the wall, there’s perforated hardboard to hold peggable art - Next up is a display of vintage bike parts. That, along with the tiny cafe being located in North Park near 30th, should tell you it’s hipster friendly.
Drinks run $2 to $4, and sure you can get lattes, hammerheads and double ristrettos in a paper to-go cup. More than that, you’ll get a demonstration of Holcomb’s devotion.
“I’m caramelizing the sugars in coffee beans myself,” the coffee roaster said when I popped in recently. “With my hands, I add value to a raw green product.”
Talking to the lanky guy in oversized Ray-Bans, I thought: “How many passionate personalities does a city get?”
Holcomb references the coffee cultures of San Francisco and Portland when describing his café, and talks about it as a space for community interaction, not really for the lonesome laptop user.
That’s why he’s planning free, community tastings every Saturday at 9 a.m. - a guided tour of coffee aromas and flavors.
“We’re going to go over the roasting process. It’s going to be super geeky. But I hope people can connect to the fine aspects of coffee. The dry fragrance or the wet aroma...”
Don’t let the purist take on coffee scare you. Holcomb is a softy. Although the café is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, when a tattooed posse looked pleadingly through the glass storefront clearly marked “closed,” he let them in, and painstakingly made pour-over drip coffee for everyone. I saw it.
Then I asked, “If someone ordered a venti white chocolate mocha with two pumps of raspberry syrup, would you recoil like they cursed you out?”
“We won’t do flavored syrups here, just based on principle. We’re artisan coffee roasters. But we’ll give you Splenda.”
Coffee and Tea Collective
Read Keli Dailey’s full foodie story and more on utsandiego.com