Bay Area CoRoasters café to open in West Berkeley

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Bay Area CoRoasters, or CoRo — a shared-space coffee roastery — held a soft opening of its first coffee shop Friday at 2322 Fifth St.

At CoRo, members can learn with and use CoRo’s various pieces of roasting and packaging equipment to run their own roasting businesses. Although the café opened in Southwest Berkeley just last week, according to CEO and co-founder Floy Andrews, CoRo has envisioned opening a café that features coffee roasted by its co-roasting members since the roastery was established nearly a decade ago.

CoRo had a soft opening for friends and family Friday, with another soft opening for tastemakers, “the opinion makers in coffee,” to be held in two weeks, according to Andrews. The café’s official grand opening will be held July 28.

Andrews said she wanted to offer a space to help local community members foster their passions.

“I’ve been really inspired by the people who are … taking control of their own careers, people who are stepping away from large corporations … and getting into the kind of maker mode,” Andrews said.

The café showcases four different brands of coffee from CoRo’s roasting members; these brands are processed by the roastery, visible through a giant window in the café. Soon, coffee flights — three ounces each of all four different coffees — will be featured, according to Andrews.

These members’ coffees will be switched out with coffees from four different members every two months, Andrews said. Throughout the year, the café will feature 24 different members’ coffees, curated by Andrews, Israel Fraire, the director of operations, and James Parrish, the manager and visionary of the café.

The menu also features drinks with subtle twists such as espresso con panna, in which the whipped cream is mixed instead of shaken and aerated as it is in most cafes, offering a much thicker, creamier taste, according to Parrish.

“I got to really put into practice a lot of stuff that I believe in … part of that was working gratuity into the menu instead of tips and trying to offer the starting wage here above minimum wage,” said Parrish, who exclusively designed the rest of the menu.

Barista Laura Freymiller emphasized how exciting it was to be directly connected to the collective roastery and feature the members’ coffee. Her favorite item on the menu is the chai latte. The chai is a “vibrant” solid, dark chai from Blue Willow Tea, according to Freymiller.

According to Andrews, CoRo strives to offer creative, new experiences with coffee to Bay Area consumers, who are generally interested in different and unique flavors.

“The most exciting part has been involving the coffee community in what we’re doing,” Andrews said. “It’s, like, been a real sort of magnet for our members, and it’s so exciting to open the doors and be able to connect our members to the Bay Area coffee enthusiasts.”

Contact Mani Sandhu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ManiSandhu24.