The Castro has gone from being a fancy-coffee desert to a buzzing caffeine center, thanks to the arrivals of Espressamente Illy and Reveille Coffee in the past year. (There's also a location of Weaver's Coffee and Tea still on the way.) Now, a fourth player is entering the arena: Hearth Coffee Roasters, from the duo of Ariana Akbar and James Kafader, who previously owned Parkside's Brown Owl Coffee (shuttered in 2012). They're also bringing on two more experts to help out: Albert Que, who took third place for his barista skills in 2013's Southwest Brewers' Cup (he was the highest-ranked participant from SF), and Megan Bovis, who's worked with Neighbor Bakehouse, Craftsman & Wolves' William Werner, and Berkeley bakery Fournée, and will be making organic baked goods in-house.
While Brown Owl's retail shop went dark in 2012, Akbar and Kafader have continued to sell their beans to clients like Heartbaker and Other Avenues in preparation for Hearth's debut. The plan for Hearth is to not only offer the standard selection of to-go coffee and pastries in the morning, but to provide coffee education as well, with flights of single-origin coffees and afternoon "coffee service" inspired by high tea and featuring pairings like caramelized banana-hazelnut scones and a triple cream cheese souffle. Hoodline notes that they plan to offer wine and beer as well (Akbar is a certified sommelier). Look for Hearth to debut in the Castro sometime next month.