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What in the world is white coffee?

California Bean has an ocean view and a particularly unique offering

A small coffee startup, Spokane Washington style.
A small coffee startup, Spokane Washington style.

White coffee?

Place

California Bean

809 Thomas Avenue, San Diego

Pacific Beach got a new coffee shop in July. Actually, it’s more of a shack. California Bean sits in the parking lot of bar/restaurant The Local Pacific Beach, with a partial ocean view and a small strip of asphalt to serve walk- and drive-thru customers. The tiny shop is owned and operated by Morgan Fransk, a 14-year San Diego resident who’s worked as a bartender and barista while saving up to start her own thing.

“I always thought about buying a coffee shop,” Fransk says, “but a lot of people don’t give you business loans, so I had to pay for this a little at a time.” She found the used trailer for sale in Colorado via Craigslist, estimating it cost her a relatively low-budget $20,000 to buy and ready it for limited to-go coffee service — primarily espresso drinks and small baked goods.

“Up in the Northwest these little coffee shops are everywhere, on every block,” says Fransk, who grew up in Spokane, Washington. “They’re just drive-thrus, not walk-ups.”

It was while working in one of these shops that she came across a unique offering that makes California Bean stand out: white coffee.

Not white coffee in the milky, flat white sense. This white coffee consists of underdeveloped beans — whereas most espresso beans are roasted dark, these are roasted extremely light, even by third-wave standards.

Fransk gets all her beans from Spokane roaster Thomas Hammer, which offers a full variety of coffees and calls this unusual one White Zombie. The official description on the Hammer website suggests White Zombie for people who “would like a little extra jolt of caffeine and don’t care for the taste of coffee.”

White coffee beans yield a nutty-flavored drink that bears little resemblance to traditional coffee, yet possesses about 30 percent more caffeine. Actually, Fransk doesn’t suggest drinking a straight shot of white coffee. Instead she offers it mixed with a twist on hot-beverage standards, including a ginger latte and a coconut-milk chai. “I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in San Diego that has it,” she says.

Indeed, there’s little to compare it to locally. Café Virtuoso roaster Stephan Vonkolkow says, “I tried playing with it once.” Though he professes limited experience with it, he recalls it “Smells like peanut butter” and is “really hard on coffee grinders.”

Matt Delarosa, co-founder of Ironsmith Coffee, says he’s heard about white coffee but hasn’t encountered it in his travels to some of the West Coast’s top coffee destinations. “I haven’t experimented with underdeveloping my own coffees,” he says, adding, “I roast specifically to obtain full development in all my coffees. It’s where I believe coffee showcases its full potential.”

It’s not exactly specialty coffee, but Fransk says California Bean is not out to offer specialty coffee. “It’s kind of like an In-N-Out,” she says. “Just simple, good coffee.”

And white coffee. And maybe in the future, a granita machine she wants to use to make coffee slushies.

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A small coffee startup, Spokane Washington style.
A small coffee startup, Spokane Washington style.

White coffee?

Place

California Bean

809 Thomas Avenue, San Diego

Pacific Beach got a new coffee shop in July. Actually, it’s more of a shack. California Bean sits in the parking lot of bar/restaurant The Local Pacific Beach, with a partial ocean view and a small strip of asphalt to serve walk- and drive-thru customers. The tiny shop is owned and operated by Morgan Fransk, a 14-year San Diego resident who’s worked as a bartender and barista while saving up to start her own thing.

“I always thought about buying a coffee shop,” Fransk says, “but a lot of people don’t give you business loans, so I had to pay for this a little at a time.” She found the used trailer for sale in Colorado via Craigslist, estimating it cost her a relatively low-budget $20,000 to buy and ready it for limited to-go coffee service — primarily espresso drinks and small baked goods.

“Up in the Northwest these little coffee shops are everywhere, on every block,” says Fransk, who grew up in Spokane, Washington. “They’re just drive-thrus, not walk-ups.”

It was while working in one of these shops that she came across a unique offering that makes California Bean stand out: white coffee.

Not white coffee in the milky, flat white sense. This white coffee consists of underdeveloped beans — whereas most espresso beans are roasted dark, these are roasted extremely light, even by third-wave standards.

Fransk gets all her beans from Spokane roaster Thomas Hammer, which offers a full variety of coffees and calls this unusual one White Zombie. The official description on the Hammer website suggests White Zombie for people who “would like a little extra jolt of caffeine and don’t care for the taste of coffee.”

White coffee beans yield a nutty-flavored drink that bears little resemblance to traditional coffee, yet possesses about 30 percent more caffeine. Actually, Fransk doesn’t suggest drinking a straight shot of white coffee. Instead she offers it mixed with a twist on hot-beverage standards, including a ginger latte and a coconut-milk chai. “I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in San Diego that has it,” she says.

Indeed, there’s little to compare it to locally. Café Virtuoso roaster Stephan Vonkolkow says, “I tried playing with it once.” Though he professes limited experience with it, he recalls it “Smells like peanut butter” and is “really hard on coffee grinders.”

Matt Delarosa, co-founder of Ironsmith Coffee, says he’s heard about white coffee but hasn’t encountered it in his travels to some of the West Coast’s top coffee destinations. “I haven’t experimented with underdeveloping my own coffees,” he says, adding, “I roast specifically to obtain full development in all my coffees. It’s where I believe coffee showcases its full potential.”

It’s not exactly specialty coffee, but Fransk says California Bean is not out to offer specialty coffee. “It’s kind of like an In-N-Out,” she says. “Just simple, good coffee.”

And white coffee. And maybe in the future, a granita machine she wants to use to make coffee slushies.

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Comments
1

OK, so "white coffee" is coffee for those who don't like coffee? Maybe another one of many cockamamie ideas that comes and goes quickly. How about serving coffee to people who like the stuff?

Oct. 14, 2015

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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