Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Source-Sipping in Barrio Logan, Organic Coffee Capital!
I’m sitting under a lone yellow umbrella on the sidewalk outside this 100-year-old brick building on National Avenue. Mmm. Sipping an Italian Roast coffee ($1.75). A vertical coffee-colored “Coffee” flag flutters next to me. You wouldn't know it, but Barrio Logan's becoming the Organic Coffee Capital of the South. Ryan Brothers is just a block up, Café Moto's further down National, and now – new for me – Café Virtuoso, right here at 1616. I’ve seen them for years at farmers’ markets, but this is their lair, where the roasting smells waft.
Now they’ve set up a little café inside, around all the open coffee bean sacks, and their roasters. I swear, it’s source-sipping, like drinking a beer right next to the brewing kettles at Mission Brewery around the corner.
“We didn’t want to do a café,” says Laurie Britton. She’s one of the partners here. “But the neighbors begged us to.” That was a year ago. With the help of Yelp, Twitter etc, just like with the local breweries, they built it and the coffee purists came, where they know it’s 80 percent Fair Trade, and 100 percent organic.
And 100 percent delicious. I’m gluggin' mine down with a cranberry muffin ($2), chatting with the other owner with the aristocratic-sounding name, Stephan vonKolkow, and his marketing guy Rigo Hernández. You never come here without getting into good jawboning about shade growing, the evils of monocrop coffees, farmers’ rights, the whole organic coffee cause.
Plus we’re only a block or two from 12th and Imperial transit center. But also, it’s nice to feel like the Lone Range-Coffee Ranger: Right now, I’m the only person under the only umbrella on the entire street. Pictures below: The Lone-Table Cafe (more tables inside); The scoop: Rigo grabs some Guatemala; muffin's eye view of National Avenue.