Gastronomy — May 21, 2012 8:30 am

The Public Q & A: Rose City Coffee

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At The Public Queue we’re interested in highlighting stories and endeavors of people and organizations doing great things. When we heard about Rose City Coffee we knew we had to let our readers discover the good work of this new project. Dan Davidson, co-founder, was kind enough to answer some questions about what Rose City Coffee is and why it exists.

Who are you? What do you do?

I am the co-founder and Executive Director of Rose City Coffee. I’m also the founding and lead pastor of Rose City Church. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been serving people and creating community through the church. Starting Rose City Coffee was my way of marrying two passions, caring for people in need, such as the homeless youth of Pasadena, and creating space for community to flourish over a quality cup of coffee.

At Rose City Coffee, I’m responsible for overseeing and launching the project. Currently, my job is like a balancing act. I’m constantly keeping the plates of personnel, fundraising, community awareness, church support, and legal matters all spinning at the same time while walking the tightrope of our passion for changing the lives of homeless youth and crafting the best cup of coffee. It’s a dizzying job, that I love. It’s also my job to protect our vision, mission, and values in the midst of making decisions that are best for the business of a coffee shop.

At Rose City Church, I lead the most intelligent, energetic, and hard working ministry team in all of Pasadena. With their support, I get to oversee a church that is passionate about gathering for worship, growing in Christ, and being sent out to expand God’s kingdom. In re-starting our most historic Free Methodist church, I’ve been blessed to participate in the power of the resurrection changing our lives and community.

What kind of coffee do you like to drink?

In the morning, I prefer a cup of Handsome’s San Sebastian, a Comfort Roast of Colombian Origin, brewed at home using my glass Hario v60. I love the rich, nutty flavor of the San Sebastian. And I’m not going to lie, I love that it has a hint of sweetness. It’s the perfect blend of dark rich flavors with light, tangy sweetness.

In the afternoon, I’m a sucker for a 6oz cappuccino crafted at The Market on Holly in Pasadena. They know how to pull a shot and steam milk like the best of them. I go there knowing I’ll find a a consistent and balanced blend of espresso and milk.

Tell us about your vision for Rose City Coffee.

It is my vision for Rose City Coffee to see the lives of homeless and transitional aged youth change through the communal craft of coffee. I see young people, who have not been given the same chances as I and others, spending time with our team to learn the trade and craft of 3rd wave coffee. I also see a staff committed to caring for our young barista’s; instilling in them a passion for crafting the perfect cup of coffee. I also envision a place where community flourishes and people are given space and support to dream of new ways of transforming our local community.

Where did this idea come from?

Matthew Schuler

The vision for Rose City Coffee developed out of a passion for the youth that used to sleep on the doorsteps of our church cafe. Not long after moving to Pasadena to restart the church, I encountered a small group of homeless young adults that would sleep on a concrete slab in front of our cafe steps. After nine months of attempting to help and care for them in a variety of ways, I came to realize that I and the youth needed to be a part of a much great community effort if we were to fully meet their needs. After much research, I realized that there were many great programs and opportunities to help the youth more than I could. But I also discovered that none of the programs focused specifically on transitional employment or teaching them a skill set.

Left with a desire to make a change in their lives using the resources at my finger tips, it dawned on me that the I could open the doors, in front of the very step the youth slept on, to our church cafe and create a coffee shop that will provide transitional employment and instruction in the craft of coffee.

As I shared this idea with Brett Prior, my friend and co-founder of Rose City Coffee, he confirmed that this idea could be a real possibility. But he took the idea two steps further. First, he expressed the importance of sustainability in social services through new forms of social entrepreneurialism, that is businesses established with social, not financial, ends in mind. Second, his passion for coffee provided the key to success. Brett helped me realize that in order for our coffee shop to be successful we needed to compete with the best coffee shops in town, we needed to offer the best cup of coffee in Pasadena (not an easy feat). Also, his level of passion for coffee is exactly what’s needed to instill the same passion for coffee in the lives of our young barista’s in order to see change take place in their lives.

Since our early collaboration, we’ve taken this idea to others for affirmation. We’ve now partnered with Handsome Coffee Roasters to provide our coffee beans and training. We’ve also partnered with Pacific Clinics, LA Youth Network, the Covenant House, Hathaway-Sycamores, and Journey House to help us bring change to the lives of the youth we will employ and train in the communal craft of coffee.

Have you done anything like this before?

In short, yes and no. I’ve never started a business before. But I have started a church, which often runs with business principals but towards a different end. On September 18th, 2011 a ministry team, led by my wife and I, launched Rose City Church, a Free Methodist church re-start in Pasadena. What’ve I learned from starting a new church has largely helped me plan, prepare and develop Rose City Coffee.

You guys don’t want to just sell coffee, you want to sell GOOD coffee. Tell us more about where it comes from.

Our coffee comes from Handsome Coffee Roasters in Los Angeles. Brett Prior met Michael Philips, 2010 World Barista Champion, at Intelligentsia in Pasadena. When the idea for Rose City Coffee came together, we contacted him for further research. And as we shared with him our vision for RCC, he offered his services to help our project. With his support, we knew this could work.

We believe that Handsome Coffee roasts the highest quality of coffee beans in all of Los Angeles. Purchasing our beans from them and receiving training from one of the world’s best barista’s is our greatest asset. Handsome Coffee has already, in just a few months, become the best place for a cup of coffee. Their attention to detail, passion for the craft of coffee and friendly attitudes is unparalleled in Los Angeles.

Lastly, we recognize that good coffee is not just about where it comes from, but also about the quality of the brewing process. With a lot of love and care we want our high quality coffee beans brewed as the best cup of coffee. For this reason our management team and equipment is of upmost importance. Our Head Barista, David Frere, knows this firsthand. He’s committed himself to quality training and crafting a perfect cup of coffee. We also are stocking up on premium equipment to make sure we pour the best cup of coffee every time.

Are you going for any specific vibe or atmosphere for the coffee shop?

At RCC, we value community. For this reason, we seek to create an atmosphere of hospitality in our space. We believe that through the virtue of hospitality we will provide the best atmosphere for community to flourish. When you visit our shop we want you to feel welcomed and be surrounded by the warmth of community.

When will Rose City Coffee open?

August 6th is the soft-launch date for opening. We hope to have raised enough funds by then to open our doors.

What’s the best way to help?

RCC is a community wide effort. We need all the help we can get. Please help us by supporting us through raising awareness and raising funds. Check out our Facebook page and Kickstarter page for ways to spread the word and donate. Last but not least, don’t forget to visit us this August!

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1 Comment

  • what a great idea!! and who doesn’t like a good cup of coffee?! a good heart – with a desire to encourage & teach others so they can better themselves. love this

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