Bean Bar looks the same, but new owner HOB Coffee brings its own beans, and a nifty new nitro cold brew tap.
Nearly six years ago, coffee enthusiasts Jason and Sandra Scheller were among the first to bring third-wave coffee to East Village with their shop, Bean Bar. In late September, after six months of pandemic downturn, the married couple announced they were moving on from the shop, which sits just a block from Petco Park.
However, Bean Bar will continue to do business at the location. The Schellers sold their coffee shop to a North County coffee business.
1068 K Street, San Diego
The House of Black Coffee Company, a.k.a. HOB Coffee, reopened the shop a week after the Scheller’s departure, dubbing it Hob Coffee at Bean Bar. Regular customers will notice few changes to the café, the most significant being a fresh set of beans. The Schellers always sourced their coffee from Canadian coffee roaster 49th Parallel. Hob Coffee roasts them itself.
Back in early 2017, coffee hobbyists Andy Itaya, Travis Ford, and Jim Sanford started selling home-roasted coffee beans at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market. A year later, they took over a juice shop on Poway Road, Sabre Springs, formalizing their business around the idea that fresh, carefully sourced coffee is best appreciated when taken black: without creamer or sweetener.
Hob coffee does furnish both for guests, of course, and serves specialty drinks ranging from an agave cinnamon espresso to a vanilla raspberry latte. But its three founders — a CPA, carpenter, and IT specialist by day — aim to plant the seed for non-hipster coffee drinkers to take a chance with the unadulterated sweetness of light and medium roast beans. “To be able to taste that is a game changer,” says co-founder Itaya, “especially to somebody coming from being a Coffee Bean or Starbucks customer.”
A solid place to start during our ongoing spate of heat waves is with Hob’s nitro cold brew. Both its shops feature gadgety nitro taps that operate without tanks; they pull nitrogen out of the air to infuse the brew with fine bubbles, which open up cold brew’s rounded and less acidic coffee flavors, while lending a fuller-bodied, creamy texture.
Hob Coffee’s crew embraces even shinier technology in their choice of coffee roaster. They use a Bellwether Roaster, a fully automated electric roasting machine that yields zero emissions, and may be operated with an iPad. Bellwether even offers curated roasting profiles that may be fine-tuned on site, then used to produce consistent results with every batch, regardless who’s cooking.
“We’re roasting around the clock,” says Hob cofounder Itaya, “Our shift managers and head baristas are roasting, when it gets slow.”
Slow business has confounded this section of East Village of late, especially painful in a year when a playoff-bound Padres team would have attracted unprecedented crowds. But Itaya remains optimistic things will turn around in the neighborhood. Right away, Hob coffee decided to keep Bean Bar open seven days a week — it’s primarily been open weekdays only during the pandemic. And it’s offering branded t-shirts in traditional Padres colors.
“Downtown will come back,” he says, “The Padres will come back. I think the spot’s in a great location, and hopefully we’ll return to normalcy.” He even suggests their refrigerator-sized coffee roaster can produce enough beans to support a third shop, likely somewhere uptown, potentially in 2021.