The new La Cocina Municipal Marketplace opened on April 5, debuting with 7,000 square feet and starring six female entrepreneurs. But now, in addition to the food options, the hall is finally going to start offering drinks. First up, caffeine: Fluid Cooperative Cafe is a coffee pop-up that aspires to eventually have its own brick-and-mortar location and events across the city, as first reported by SFGate. It’s a cooperative from a trio of trans founders, who say they’re excited to serve coffee by trans people, for trans people, and reclaim space for the gender non-conforming community in the heart of the Tenderloin.
The long-term dream is “a space that isn’t a bar, where youth can come, where elders can exist, where really anyone can be a part of it,” says Santana Tapia, co-owner and founder. She says that with many cafes gentrifying across San Francisco, trans folks who may not have $10 for a latte can feel shut out by the cost and dismissed by the culture of the shop. But she wants all customers to walk in and immediately feel like they’re part of Fluid. “We were formed with a vision … to nurture, uplift, and advance trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming communities,” she says. “We are creating the space because we believe in not pulling up a chair to someone else’s table.”
All three founders are activists and organizers, who first met while planning the San Francisco Trans March, one of the largest events of its kind across the country and usually held during Pride weekend. But they also have strong experience in restaurants, bars, and nightlife. Shannon Amitin (they/them) is a co-founder of Farm:Table cafe in the Tendernob and Jolene’s in the Mission; JoJo Ty (they/them, he/him) has worked as both a Youth Commissioner in City Hall, as well as at Jolene’s and other bars; and Santana Tapia (she/her) is a performer, in addition to working in catering and events. They are all equal co-owners and plan to keep Fluid a cooperative, even as they add to the team.
Amitin, Ty, and Tapia are still finalizing the menu, which will start with drip coffee and pastries — espresso and specialty drinks are soon to follow. They’re featuring a trio of roasters, namely trans-owned Maquina and Queer Wave, plus the queer-owned Equator. For now, it’s just a couple of brewed coffees and iced coffees, including Tapia’s grandmother’s cafe de olla, sweetened with piloncillo raw sugar and scented with cinnamon, and “JoJo Juice” with guarana and calamansi. Other La Cocina entrepreneurs are providing the pastries, like Algerian pastries from Kayma and Mexican conchas from Los Cilantros.
“Cuuuuute!” Tapia says in her live tour of the food stall this morning, and it’s hard to disagree. “We’re working on creating a space that is inclusive of all. Once you create a space that includes the most vulnerable and the most oppressed and center them in your everyday life, you really create a space where every single person is welcome ... Coffee is more than just coffee. It’s more about family and community.”
Fluid Cooperative Cafe is now popping up at La Cocina Municipal Food Hall at 101 Hyde Street, at a stall closest to the side entrance at Golden Gate Ave. It’s open starting Monday, August 2, and running indefinitely. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.