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Bird Rock Coffee merges with Kansas company, Lofty Coffee opens in Little Italy

February's coffee news

Lofty Coffee’s new open-air café at the south end of Little Italy - Image by Jenny Farhat
Lofty Coffee’s new open-air café at the south end of Little Italy

Points of origin

Place

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

5627 La Jolla Boulevard, San Diego

In early February, San Diego’s award-winning Bird Rock Coffee Roasters announced a merger with the Topeka, Kansas, business PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. While each brand will retain its own identity, PT’s cofounder Jeff Taylor will move to San Diego to run Bird Rock’s business side, freeing up founder Chuck Patton to continue as head coffee buyer for both brands.

According to Taylor​, ​“Bird Rock Coffee Roasters requires more and more attention to its global coffee partners, which Chuck will lead and is most passionate about.” She adds the move will allow Patton “to focus more on the growing conditions and processing techniques of the coffee” at points of origin.

Patton and Taylor met and became friends over the course of coffee-buying trips going back more than seven years, and the two companies already shared several of the same green coffee sources. The biggest immediate change for Bird Rock will be adding Ecuador and Brazil coffees for the first time, tapping relationships developed by PT’s, which was established in 1993 and operates a couple of cafés in the Midwest.

Taylor will reportedly work to grow Bird Rock’s cold-brew program and will also be seeking opportunities to expand upon the roaster’s three café locations in the near future — first identifying other properties within San Diego, then aiming to move north into other parts of California.

The merger hasn’t been the only change for Bird Rock in February. As head roaster Heather Brisson moved on from San Diego last month, the team had been seeking a new head roaster. Instead, they brought back an old colleague. Tony Gomez worked for Bird Rock for nearly eight years, beginning in 2005, and was roasting for the company when it was named micro roaster of the year by Roast Magazine in 2012.

Escape velocity

Encinitas roaster Lofty Coffee Co. made its first move into San Diego’s urban center this month, opening a bakery and coffee shop in Little Italy.

Place

Lofty Coffee Co. Little Italy

444 W. Cedar Street, San Diego

The mostly outdoor space features 1100 square feet of patio to go with a litany of coffee drinks, plus pastries, sandwiches, cheese boards, and other light fare.

What’s unusual about Lofty taking the corner location is that property developer Brendan Foote bypassed two dozen other proposals — including a couple of well-known, out-of-town coffee chains — to solicit Lofty as a tenant. “It’s kind of unique in the sense a landlord pursues a tenant,” says the North County resident. “As a customer of Lofty’s other locations, I saw the vision of what we had for this property becoming a reality with them.”

Foote spent the better part of a year convincing Lofty founder Eric Myers to commit to the space, though Myers is clearly pleased with the results. “This location is basically the culmination of everything we’ve done and learned as a company,” he notes. “As far as for the brand and growth, this is escape velocity, it’s high visibility.”

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Lofty Coffee’s new open-air café at the south end of Little Italy - Image by Jenny Farhat
Lofty Coffee’s new open-air café at the south end of Little Italy

Points of origin

Place

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

5627 La Jolla Boulevard, San Diego

In early February, San Diego’s award-winning Bird Rock Coffee Roasters announced a merger with the Topeka, Kansas, business PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. While each brand will retain its own identity, PT’s cofounder Jeff Taylor will move to San Diego to run Bird Rock’s business side, freeing up founder Chuck Patton to continue as head coffee buyer for both brands.

According to Taylor​, ​“Bird Rock Coffee Roasters requires more and more attention to its global coffee partners, which Chuck will lead and is most passionate about.” She adds the move will allow Patton “to focus more on the growing conditions and processing techniques of the coffee” at points of origin.

Patton and Taylor met and became friends over the course of coffee-buying trips going back more than seven years, and the two companies already shared several of the same green coffee sources. The biggest immediate change for Bird Rock will be adding Ecuador and Brazil coffees for the first time, tapping relationships developed by PT’s, which was established in 1993 and operates a couple of cafés in the Midwest.

Taylor will reportedly work to grow Bird Rock’s cold-brew program and will also be seeking opportunities to expand upon the roaster’s three café locations in the near future — first identifying other properties within San Diego, then aiming to move north into other parts of California.

The merger hasn’t been the only change for Bird Rock in February. As head roaster Heather Brisson moved on from San Diego last month, the team had been seeking a new head roaster. Instead, they brought back an old colleague. Tony Gomez worked for Bird Rock for nearly eight years, beginning in 2005, and was roasting for the company when it was named micro roaster of the year by Roast Magazine in 2012.

Escape velocity

Encinitas roaster Lofty Coffee Co. made its first move into San Diego’s urban center this month, opening a bakery and coffee shop in Little Italy.

Place

Lofty Coffee Co. Little Italy

444 W. Cedar Street, San Diego

The mostly outdoor space features 1100 square feet of patio to go with a litany of coffee drinks, plus pastries, sandwiches, cheese boards, and other light fare.

What’s unusual about Lofty taking the corner location is that property developer Brendan Foote bypassed two dozen other proposals — including a couple of well-known, out-of-town coffee chains — to solicit Lofty as a tenant. “It’s kind of unique in the sense a landlord pursues a tenant,” says the North County resident. “As a customer of Lofty’s other locations, I saw the vision of what we had for this property becoming a reality with them.”

Foote spent the better part of a year convincing Lofty founder Eric Myers to commit to the space, though Myers is clearly pleased with the results. “This location is basically the culmination of everything we’ve done and learned as a company,” he notes. “As far as for the brand and growth, this is escape velocity, it’s high visibility.”

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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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