SF People Interviews: Wilson Jones of CoffeeShop

This is the third in a series of interviews of people that make up the patchwork quilt of personalities that is San Francisco. 

Wilson Jones is the owner of CoffeeShop located on 3139 Mission Street in Bernal Heights. In addition to opening and running this coffee shop he is also a talented graphic and web designer. I met Wilson after finishing a short hike up Bernal Heights and stumbled upon his cosy little shop. He poured me some cold-processed iced coffee and I was instantly convinced that this was my new favorite coffee shop in San Francisco.

Wilson Jones of Coffee Shop_3139 Mission

Wilson in his coffee shop

MissionHipsters: How did you become interested in opening a coffee shop and what did you do before?

Wilson Jones: I was and still am a designer. Graphic designer, UX designer, web designer…and then the opportunity arose via a call from one of my freelance web clients, the new Bernal Heights-based cannabis club Herbal Mission,

“Dude, we need help, want to come take over and run the coffee shop in front of our building?”

I had just been laid off from a silicon valley job, we had lost our health insurance, and my wife had just broken the news that we were expecting a child. So I said ‘Heck,Yes!’ All this happened over the course of three bizarre days.

Iced Coffee

Wilson adds a dash of milk to some cold-brewed iced coffee. The ice is made from cold-pressed coffee and can take up to 12 hours to freeze.

I have always loved the idea of a coffee house. Back in Austin, TX, I had a 24-hour digital service bureau and we had an espresso machine on our front counter for customers to whip up a drink with if they knew how.

My parents, even after they were both retired last year, dove back in and started a coffee shop in our grandmother’s town of Clarksville, Arkansas. We both, it turns out, didn’t really mention it to the other and simultaneously built Coffee Shops. Theirs had a radio station in it broadcasting the town’s sport talk radio…well played…

I decided to call ours the deceptively simple, and unused name, ‘CoffeeShop’. 11 months in, folks seem to appreciate what we are doing, enjoying the daily offerings of the Ubuntu Coffee Cooperative and now we are in the planning stages of a second spot on Folsom Street!

A customer just wrote this about us on our Yelp page: Holy cow.

London’s Soho 1960 … On a Saturday there was a ritual when I was 8 years old …

“Steppin out to Angelucci’s”

Mark Knofler  penned  it in the opening line of Dire Straits song “Walking in the Wild West End” from their first album about this iconic roaster.
http://angeluccicoffee.c…
We’d buy a couple of pounds of my mom’s special blend

Then …walk up the street to Bar Italia  and have an espresso and a salami sandwich
http://www.baritaliasoho…
Great website with some cool video’s here

So why mention all this stuff in a review of the CoffeeShop in San Francisco ?

Took me 52 years to emulate that magical experience…

Thanks Wilson….

You made an espresso that transcended time and space mate !

That about makes my entire year.  Now I just need to keep it up. That makes 23 5-star reviews in a row so far: http://www.yelp.com/biz/coffeeshop-san-francisco

Coffee Shop, Bernal Heights

Outside CoffeeShop 3139

MH: What are some of the challenges to opening a small business in a city like San Francisco? You mentioned there was a $500 permit you had to apply and pay for to have a small table outside.

WJ: SF is rather like Oz. Everything is fantastically more expensive than I have ever experienced. But truthfully, once you get past that and learn to be patient, the folks I have dealt with are actually super cool and we are having a lot of fun getting to know folks in our neighborhood. The city got us lined up for bike parking out front in less than two weeks. Any day now, we’ll have that!

Coffee Shop Mission

Local pastries for sale. Wilson made the wood kiosk for the iPad/ Square check out reader himself.

MH: I see you have some interesting drinks and food. What are some of the unique things you try to do in your store?

WJ: I have always gravitated towards making coffee in between design work over the years. First, Starbucks. Then, La Boulange. Then the Brickhouse Cafe in the SOMA. Kim and Fred there taught me so much about running a truly low-impact, sustainable operation, reducing our physical output of trash to the absolute bare minimum. I also started to get creative there with what I was making.

Coffee Shop in The Mission

Wilson behind the counter

Our first original creation was the Espresso Pour. It’s simply espresso beans through a burr grinder and then single-poured through a filter. The good grinder brings out a whole spectrum of flavor that was hidden by the finer grind and high-pressure delivery of the espresso machine. This quickly became our top-selling pour. It’s strange, I’ll walk around town and ask other shops to make me one and rarely do I find someone who will do it.

Next came our Iced Coffee. I love cold coffee. I love cold, extremely low-acid coffee that I can sip slowly for hours. This means the ice cubes should optimally be made out of 18-hour chilled and filtered cold process Ubuntu Coffee Cooperative Sumatra. That way, it actually tastes exactly the same, awesome way an hour later. Boom. We are serious about this one. The only man I know who has viewed more YouTube videos /and/ poured more Lattés then me, Séan Wilson, pulled me aside one evening and introduced me to the idea of substituting time for temperature in the preparation of coffee.  Did you know it sometimes takes coffee over 12 hours to freeze? I learned it by trying it out and definitely is a time consuming process, but so worth it.

And then, last month during the latest heat wave, came the newest addition to our offerings. Iced Yerba Mate.

A nice, orange blossom honey poured onto a cleaned filter, a little fresh lime squeezed in next, and then quickly steeped Yerba Mate poured into a waiting cup of ice. Voila! Folks love it.

But the most important thing I’ve learned these past 11 months is the importance of the role of the barista. We got to stay friendly and warm and kind. It’s important to care about the quality of everything deeply, but not get all pretentious about it. I watched ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ again. I want us to deliver something out of this world good, but quick. Not slow. Philz Coffee understands that people are in a hurry, despite their best intentions.

We are particularly blessed to have stumbled across the roaster Rick Soenksen of Ubuntu Coffee Cooperative in Emeryville and Emily Guzzardi of BATCH Baking here in Bernal Heights.

These are two people working at the height of their respective crafts.

Coffee Shop, Wilson Jones, Chalkboard wall

Patrons chatting, behind them is the chalkboard wall.

MH: Your also a talented wood worker. What sort of things did you build in your shop?

WJ: My business partner and wife Olga Boiko and I live out by Outerlands Restaurant and Trouble Coffee in the outer sunset. That corridor is an inspiration to walk down on a sunny Sunday morning towards the ocean. I’m from Arkansas and 20 years in Austin, Texas. The folks from this part of the world really know and appreciate wood working. Every other storefront has something cool going on inside. I’m a big believer in using Everything I have to produce the desired function. A wall of Alhambra giant water bottles makes a great base for an Espresso Bar, an upside-down clear glass Ikea plate makes a great lid. I asked all my neighbors and friends for all their extra wood and I’m slicing it all into 1 inch strips and covering as many square inches of our Mission space as I can. It makes things feel comfortable and woodsy and encourages hanging out and chatting. Then, a smarty-pants customer, Robert Leshner from SafeShepherd walked in one day and handed me a can of chalkboard paint, now a few of the walls are giant chalk boards.

Coffee Shop 319 Mission

Wilson made this wall and shelves out of recycled wood pieces.

MH: Anything else exciting going on for you?

WJ: Well I have all my design stuff that I still am active with.  In addition to that I recently became a father. Waking up to my 3 month old daughter this morning, pointing at a giraffe on the side of her crib and her cracking up laughing about sums it up. Doesn’t get much better than that. I have to agree with her, the overall design of the giraffe with little fluffy horns is hilarious.

Foundry, Inc.
CoffeeShop_3139 Mission
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Mission Cafe Review: Haus Coffee

Haus Cafe San Francisco

I find myself at Haus, one of the most nauseatingly hipster coffee shops in the mission, let alone the whole city and I find myself oddly liking it. The design of the café is simple, modern, and perhaps a bit austere. It’s full of light-colored wood chairs, tables, and scaffolding; a concrete floor, a big glass window letting in the natural light, an open coffee bar where you watch the lone barista behind the counter prepare your drink, and a spacious back patio full of plants and natural light. A bit of sparse artwork adorns one of the walls. It’s obscure, colorful, has no apparent meaning.  Typical of San Francisco one small wall is full of fliers advertising creative writing classes at the “The Writing Salon”, an “Oldies Night” at a local mission bar, a learn to speak Spanish class, a meditation in Spanish class, a mysterious flier that reads: “MATHEMATICS / PLANET EARTH / CLIMATE DISRUPTION”, and various other posters for jazz, theater, and yoga.

Haus coffee interior designThe cafe’s patrons are engrossed in their work. A collection of white people in sloppily thrown together outfits and expensive, stylish shoes are typing away furiously at their keyboards. Are they all writers working on novels and poetry? Or are they programmers creating the next cool app?  (Fun)employed people looking for jobs?  Why is everybody here?

Haus cafe desksOne girl, a blonde, wears a grey button up top, with skinny black pants that taper down to her hi-top silver Nike’s.  She leans into her work with a focus that I recognize, I think I must be doing it too.  Another girl with long brown hair, a flowy white dress, and chunky high-heels pecks aimlessly at her computer, she’s working on some sort of spreadsheet and intermittently checking her Facebook. The most stylish guy there wears some light jeans, a dark t-shirt, and a pull over blue & white striped mariner shirt made of a soft fabric. It’s the type of fabric and texture that is recognizably expensive and designer. He has on some chunky Ray-bans and an expensive James Dean haircut.  Suede boat shoes and a brown leather bomber jacket complete the look, along with a white backpack designed in the satchel style with brown leather trim and metal buckles. It’s an expensive look and a concerted effort to effect that style that’s says I’m cool, but I don’t care that much.  These sort of outfits are what I have come to expect out of The Mission.

Haus Coffee CappucinoThey serve Ritual espresso, so naturally their espresso drinks are delicious.  The barista prepared for me a cappuccino with those little hearts on top. Overall it’s a pretty good place to get work done. Just make sure to bring a Mac and wear your coolest shoes though if you want to fit in.

Haus Cafe San Francisco

What it feels like to order hipster coffee

How many times have you gone into Fourbarrel, Ritual or another hipster coffee place in the The Mission only to be made to feel a little awkward when you didn’t understand the menu or why you couldn’t order your favorite drink? This little sketch captures it perfectly.

http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/652h

Coffee Snobs – watch more funny videos

A Eulogy of the Hipster from NY Magazine

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This interesting piece from New York Magazine (ironically, a magazine not really known for its writing) seeks to ask posthumously, What was the Hipster?  While I wouldn’t say that this hipster phenomenon is totally dead, it certainly has peaked and been fully commercialized.  The line between where hipsters end and everyone else begins has just seemed to end. This author claims hipsters started in the late nineties and evolved over the last decade. While I think a lot of this article is incessant babbling and uses one too many “big words” to show off, there are some clever observations.  He essentially chronicles what led to the end of hipsterism as being an alternative trend and more of an adopted, commercialized mainstream trend.  It became something cool and new, that you could buy at Urban Outfitters.  Essentially you could be an individual, just like everyone else:

“The rebel consumer is the person who, adopting the rhetoric but not the politics of the counterculture, convinces himself that buying the right mass products individualizes him as transgressive. Purchasing the products of authority is thus reimagined as a defiance of authority. Usually this requires a fantasized censor who doesn’t want you to have cologne, or booze, or cars. But the censor doesn’t exist, of course, and hipster culture is not a counterculture. On the contrary, the neighborhood organization of hipsters—their tight-knit colonies of similar-looking, slouching people—represents not hostility to authority (as among punks or hippies) but a superior community of status where the game of knowing-in-advance can be played with maximum refinement. The hipster is a savant at picking up the tiny changes of rapidly cycling consumer distinction.”

He also sums up well why their is so much anger and resentment around hipsters and hipster trends:

“This in-group competition, more than anything else, is why the term hipster is primarily a pejorative—an insult that belongs to the family of poseur, faker, phony, scenester, and hanger-on. The challenge does not clarify whether the challenger rejects values in common with the hipster—of style, savoir vivre, cool, etc. It just asserts that its target adopts them with the wrong motives. He does not earn them.”

And finally he makes an interesting point that at its core there is small number of people actually writing, creating art, and contributing to items they’ve made to the public. And most of the other people around them are just consuming the trend:

“It has long been noticed that the majority of people who frequent any traditional bohemia are hangers-on. Somewhere, at the center, will be a very small number of hardworking writers, artists, or politicos, from whom the hangers-on draw their feelings of authenticity. Hipsterdom at its darkest, however, is something like bohemia without the revolutionary core. Among hipsters, the skills of hanging-on—trend-spotting, cool-hunting, plus handicraft skills—become the heroic practice. The most active participants sell something—customized brand-name jeans, airbrushed skateboards, the most special whiskey, the most retro sunglasses—and the more passive just buy it.”

Hipsterism was a trend centered around being alternative, unique and against the mainstream. And somewhere along the line small pieces of these trends seeped there way into popular culture and next thing we knew we all had to have them (think flannel, indigenous print shirts, skinny jeans, Rayban sunglasses, and summer scarves.  We hate that the only thing that is hip in the moment is everything hipster, and that somehow we can’t escape it.

Read the whole article by Mark Greif here.

South American Hipsters

Hipsters just seem to be everywhere these days.  Here are a few pics of some bohemian types in South America. 

Not only is this cool kid walking around with his Tom’s shoes, his smartphone, and big glasses – but he also is carrying a yerba maté tote bag big enough for a thermos, maté gourd, bombilla, and of course a giant bag of the herb.  Here he is seen exploring Colonia, Uruguay with his mother.

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This kid below is in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Here he is seen with his Porteno friends wearing ruffled white jeans, a leather jacket, scarf, and some grey chucks.

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The next two guys are in Bellavista, the bohemian neighborhood of Sanitago, Chile.  Popular in this neighborhood, people wear screaming loud blue, red, and purple jeans – most of which has this ruffled texture.  The guy on the left has blue glasses that match the color of his jeans perfectly. 

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