Sandra and Jason
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Bean Bar

1068 K Street, East Village

The promise

What is up with East Village? Every time I look, a new place has "Now Hiring" signs in its window.

We've seen Común and Bottega Americano opening to mucho fanfare (and success, looks like. Last Saturday when I passed by Común, it was crowded, and when I popped in to Bottega Americano, they were booked out for the rest of the night).

But there are others, great and small, coming up behind.

At 910 J Street (opposite Petco Park's Park at the Park entrance): Sol Cal bills itself as "Downtown San Diego's first vegan market cafe with a naturopathic doctor's office." Created by NFL player Jacob Bell, says their blurb, and others. Promises organic vegan everything: salads, soups, tacos, wraps, ice cream, juices. Wannabe workers were filling out applications as I passed by.

Then right across J Street, Copa Vida ("Coffee. Tea. Food. Life.") has "Now hiring" signs in the window ("Please send résumé to [email protected]"). Takes up the southwest corner of the Diamond View Tower condos right outside the Park at the Park. Turns out this place is son of Copa Vida, a cool coffee joint up in Pasadena, famous for having a "quick bar" for if you're in a rush. You grab your coffee, whatever, and drop what you think is the right amount of dinero in a pot, and run. Honor system. They also have a slow bar where you can get really arcane about the whole coffee thing without frosting the barista.

And around the corner, at 1068 K Street, on the corner with 11th Avenue, right opposite the new Central Library's main entrance, Bean Bar looks like going the whole hog on quick/slow.

Slow bar, curved for camaraderie

When I stopped to see what all the carpentry was about, this couple was talking and walking through the dust and piles of planks. The place is still all concrete and ducts and stacks of timber.

Turns out they're the owners. Jason Serres and Sandra Scheller. This is where this slow bar idea has really landed. (Seems to be filtering down the coast, specially from the Pacific Northwest. Portland, Seattle. It is definitely going to be the Next Big Thing, people say. Me, I'd never heard of it.)

Interesting. Slow food, yes, but coffee? How do you slow down on a pepper-upper?

"That will be our slow bar," says Sandra, meanwhile. She's pointing to a curved bare timber set-up near the back wall.

"The coffee culture is growing. It is becoming more like wine," says Sandra. "People want to sit and discuss its characteristics, its origins, the roasting, the blending. There is so much going on in the coffee and tea world! Like, one of our teas is brewed from hops. At the slow bar the barista loves to talk about this. It's his life. Also, see how it's curved? That's to encourage conversation, people just sitting, sipping, sharing their day. We want this to become a social hub."

Right across from the library

Sandra knows whereof she speaks. She comes from Kassel, Germany. "Having tea and cakes every afternoon with my grandmother was just a daily ceremony," she says. "In Germany everybody takes a social break at that time. We hope this will become a thing here."

Of course Bean Bar is right across from the new library's main entrance, so you can pretty-much guarantee interesting discussions around this little bar.

Jason comes from the coffee culture of Portland. "I miss it, so it's going to have the feel of Portland inside."

So what does that mean exactly?

"You'll have to come and see."


Read more about Bean Bar, Copa Vida, and other coffee spots in the East Village coming to the East Village in our recent installment of Pour Over, the Reader's coffee column! East Village — craft coffee neighborhood?

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