A barista in De La Paz's under-construction cafe. [Photo: Paolo Lucchesi/Inside Scoop]
Big news in the coffee world: Four Barrel owners Jeremy Tooker, Jodi Geren, and Tal Mor have purchased SOMA-based roaster De La Paz from founder Jason Benford, and are planning to build out a new cafe in the company's Mission St. roastery. Geren spoke to us about the Four Barrel group's plans for their newest acquisition: "We want [De La Paz] to be a side project that's different from Four Barrel, and focused on a different kind of coffee. While Four Barrel is focused on single-origin coffees, De La Paz will be focused on blends...we're really excited to do this other kind of coffee, that focuses on sweetness and body."
The founder of De La Paz was the one who initially approached the Four Barrel team about a potential change in ownership. Benford, who also has a sustainable-wood business, was overwhelmed by trying to run both companies at the same time while regularly traveling, and saw in Four Barrel an opportunity to work with a team that approaches sourcing coffee the same way he approaches sourcing wood, according to Geren. Though he's no longer an owner, Benford will remain involved with De La Paz as a consultant.
The Four Barrel team's next task is building out a cafe in the De La Paz roastery, a project Benford had already embarked upon with Seth Boor of Boor Bridges Architecture, but had yet to complete. Geren says the design of the new space is still under discussion, but it will feature wood hand-selected by Benford, including a mahogany bar top, and will likely also have a retail component that will sell brewing and grinding equipment. She's also interested in the possibility of teaching classes on coffee tasting and brewing.
Another interesting factor in De La Paz's second act is that TBD, the new project from Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman of AQ, will be its next-door neighbor. "Our spaces are connected; we share a back area," says Garen. The two teams hope to collaborate, and have discussed a potential coffee tasting menu that will pair De La Paz coffee with Liberman's food. For now, De La Paz is sourcing its pastries from Oakland's Starter Bakery, but Geren says that having either TBD or Josey Baker (Four Barrel's partner in the forthcoming The Mill on Divisadero) as a food provider is also a possibility, depending on availability. As for the now-renovated The Mill, Geren says the team targeting February 12, a week from Tuesday, as its opening date. We'll have photos and a menu as opening day nears.
For now, De La Paz fans can visit the cart outside the roastery, which is open from 8-3 on weekdays and serves espresso drinks and pourover coffee, as well as Starter's pastries. Geren estimates that the full De La Paz cafe will be ready to go sometime this summer.