Bottles of West Bean cold brew, available at Liberty Public Market this fall
5839 Mission Gorge Road, Suite D, San Diego
240 Broadway, San Diego
Truxtun Road, between Womble and Roosevelt, San Diego
When Blue Bridge Hospitality announced the list of all-local concessions participating in its Liberty Public Market last month, The West Bean was revealed to be the company chosen to represent San Diego coffee in the ambitious project. The open stall marketplace scheduled to open in Liberty Station this fall will resemble a permanent indoor farmers market, featuring artisanal purveyors of prepared meals and gourmet grocery items.
West Bean co-founder Andrew Karr says the roaster will build off the experience of establishing its first retail outlet downtown this winter. Like that Broadway location, the new market stall will sell whole beans and cold brew, both in bottles and on tap. Espresso drinks will also be available, with a machine fed through a reverse osmosis filtration system out of the stall’s dedicated water line. He adds that West Bean will be “Fine tuning our menu to see what kind of specialty offerings we’ll have here.” He hesitates to specify drip and/or pour over offerings until construction is complete, and they can get into the small space allotted to them and determine how much room they have to work with.
West Bean started out as a coffee wholesaler back in 2009, when Karr, along with co-founders James Rauh and Paul Reizen decided to turn their shared coffee roasting hobby pro. Their beans have routinely received high scores from the coffee judges from industry rating site CoffeeReview.com, earning eleven 90+ point scores since 2010, including last year’s 95-point Kenya Nyeri Giakanja, which rated in the top 20 coffees of 2014. Though their coffee has been well-received from the start, Rauh indicates he and his partners began with a measured approach to the growth of their business. “It takes so long to learn about coffee,” he says, “It takes working in coffee to really get serious about it.”
During those five years prior to opening its first retail shop, the business slowly raised its profile through key restaurant placements and coffee service at events produced by Riviera Magazine. In addition to clients obtained via personal relationships in the Pacific Northwest (Rauh hails from Portland, Karr from Seattle), West Bean services the coffee programs of Social Syndicate restaurant group (Wonderland Ocean Pub, Rabbit Hole).
It’s also previously counted Blue Bridge as a client, which made the new project a natural fit. Rauh says, “We had a pre-existing relationship with Blue Bridge Hospitality… we provide coffee to [its] Coronado Coffee Company kiosk at the ferry landing.”
However, Blue Bridge co-founder David Spatafore says he did meet with other local roasters who expressed interest in the concession, and also offered the high-quality coffee he sought for the market. He says The West Bean ultimately earned the selection by showing it was best prepared from a business standpoint; in other words, a company ready to grow.