When I was a young child, I used to help my grandfather make his coffee. He had become blind from diabetes. Before his blindness, he was an ironworker. He was a very tough, capable guy.
He simmered his coffee on low heat in a saucepan on the stove. Oddly, he kept putting his fingers in the pan to determine if the temperature and texture were right. As an adult, I realized that he was making his unique version of “cowboy coffee”. I also came to understand the texture as being its fullness of body. This orientation to coffee would eventually show up in the uniqueness of how I make every cup of coffee at Kings Road Cafe. Each cup of full-bodied coffee is individually extracted to achieve a similar density and fullness.
Growing up in San Francisco, I had the great fortune of being introduced to espresso, cappuccino, and lattes as a teenager in the 1960s. The Italian neighborhood, known as North Beach, had the best cafes in The City. In those days, two Italian families roasted small batches in retail storefronts. The Graffeo family, who opened for business in 1935, would significantly influence my future coffee blend.
Years later, in 1981, I met a “gourmet” coffee roaster who supplied the coffee to the restaurant I was working in. My visits to his warehouse marked the beginning of my roasting education. I was utterly fascinated with the roast spectrum, single origin cupping, and the blending of varietals. I spent several years developing what is now my signature blend.
Since the cafe’s opening, in 1990, I have been small batch roasting what I consider my gift, the coffee of Kings Road Cafe.