Bobby Valentino Sanchez, a familiar face in San Francisco coffee as a longtime employee at established local roaster Four Barrel, has spun off on his own with Pentacle Coffee. That’s now open on a hardscrabble block of 6th Street in SoMa where just about everyone could use a cup of coffee, starting at 7 a.m. daily. At opening, Sanchez is serving Four Barrel coffee and specialty lattes with “un poco de sabor Latino”, though he eventually plans to roast his own beans.
To open Pentacle, Sanchez cosigned a loan with his former employer and leased the space at 64 6th Street (at Jessie, between Market and Mission) about two years ago. (Don’t be thrown off by faded blue signage for the San Francisco Barber College, which Sanchez says he might just keep.)
To remodel the space, originally built in 1910, Sanchez hired the architect Andrew Wolfram and Maryam Rostami. "Pentacle’s long coffee bar opens up to a table and back gallery area, where there’s potential for his roasting operation or a kitchen, with vents hidden above the ceiling. To greet customers, Sanchez commissioned a vibrant, queer mural from the artist Nathan Rapport.
After working at Four Barrel for nearly a decade, Sanchez says he’s “basically met every human being in San Francisco, plus tourists.” He’ll keep his ties there, hoping to source exclusive lots of coffee through Four Barrel in an approach he compares to that of Saint Frank, a cafe and roaster spinoff of another established coffee shop, Ritual.
At the moment, Pentacle’s signature move is making drinks like a cajeta latte, with condensed, sweetened, caramelized goat’s milk often found in Mexican sweets. “I feel like specialty coffees, at least for the last little while, have been about purity — just really good coffee, single origin, with very minimalist milk options,” Sanchez explains. He agrees with the approach, but hopes to expand on it with specialty drinks. “I’m Mexican, so I want everything to be a little more Latin American and Mexican,” Sanchez says, suggesting cinnamon, chocolate, and mole.
While the name Pentacle isn’t to be confused with the Satanic pentagram symbol, it’s still got an occult connotation as a suit of tarot cards. “In tarot, Pentacle represents wealth, prosperity — physical earthly things,” Sanchez explains. On 6th Street, Sanchez wanted to avoid a “pretentious-sounding” name, and there’s a significance to wealth in an area where the cards aren’t dealt evenly.
“I think wealth is a very subjective word and thing,” says Sanchez. “This neighborhood, it’s a very wide income spectrum here — super wealthy, homeless, all of it. Wealth means different things to different people. Wealth means living in a luxury apartment, wealth means having a dime bag, or a cup of coffee. So, it was that idea that I liked.”
- Café Veteran Opens 'Pentacle Coffee' In SoMa [Hoodline]