The East Bay roaster Signal Coffee opened its first San Francisco cafe on March 1 in Polk Gulch. Pastryheads in the Bay Area will likely recognize the location; the business partnered with Jen Musty’s Batter Bakery at 1517 Pine Street to reopen the shop with extended hours and a much more robust coffee program, though the sweets will still come from the much-lauded kitchen. Signal co-owner and founder Brendan Doherty says his philosophy has always been about serving top-notch pastries alongside his coffee. “People’s expectations of coffee are growing,” Doherty says. “This allows us to work together, and for Signal to step in to San Francisco.”
Doherty lives in Alameda, where he and co-founder and owner Rebecca Brown’s business opened its first shop in 2021. Now the business has a location in Berkeley, too, and will open a fourth location — including this Polk Gulch cafe — in the coming months. That next shop will be across the way from the Alameda Theater, and an opening in the works for a few months and is still down the road. He credits the pandemic for giving his business’ subscription service a major off boost, and recently Brown led a redesign of the coffee bags. “We’ve slowly grown this nice little thing,” Doherty says.
Doherty met Batter Bakery owner Jen Musty while both were tabling at an event. She started her business in 2008, had her treats featured on the Food Network, and is well-established in the Bay Area baking scene. Signal’s coffees are simple and relatively accessible, which he says meshes with Musty’s baking philosophy. COVID caused her Pine Street location to pivot to to-go and wholesale baking, so the partnership will allow for regular hours for the first time since the pandemic began. She was also looking to double down on the baking focus and bring in someone who can amplify the cafe service. Signal’s partnership won’t affect Batter Bakery’s kiosk at the corner of Kearny and California Streets, nor the Ferry Building farmer’s market outlet.
Doherty says this partnership is similar to Sunset Roasters and their La Ventana coffee window with the Mission District’s Donajji, itself set to grand open on March 11. But Signal’s opening in the Batter Bakery space is more of a robust partnership, with a fuller reclamation of the location and its offerings. March 10 through 12 Signal will offer free drip — its nutty Brazillian mediumroast — as a welcoming gesture of sorts. “Jen said she wanted to reopen the Polk Gulch shop with some energy,” Doherty says. “This felt natural.”
Signal Coffee Roasters is open inside Batter Bakery from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at 1517 Pine Street.