Berkeley’s CoRo Coffee Room redefines the words “locally roasted” and “fresh.”
The ever-rotating quartet of brands served there is drawn from dozens of member-roasters who craft their product on the premises. Bay Area CoRoasters — as it is formally known — houses four production roasters, a cupping room, and two processing spaces in which coffee can be weighed, bagged, and sealed. Its cafe opened in July.
Co-founder Floy Andrews is a lawyer who became excited about the “share economy” while consulting with a tech incubator five years ago, then met longtime Berkeley resident Tim Hansen, who “had this amazing little roastery that sat idle most of the time.
“It was being used just one day a week,” Andrews remembered. “So I thought: Of course! Let’s turn this into an incubator for coffee roasters.”
Her legal skills helped her investigate “how shared-space ventures work, how their membership documentation looks.”
Three years ago, CoRo was born.
“It was becoming clear right then that coffee was changing: that more people wanted to roast, and would roast if they could — if some of the old barriers were taken away,” said Andrews, who is a licensed Q-grader, coffee’s version of a sommelier.
Among these changes, some of which are addressed at CoRo’s coffee-education classes, “green coffee is increasing in quality so quickly and in such amazing ways, because of the work that professionals have been doing at the points of origin to help growers produce beans more carefully.
“We call them beans, but they’re actually cherry seeds — and they’re filled with sugars and flavors that you never used to taste.”
New growing and roasting methods favor those flavors — and “a beautiful mouthfeel,” Andrews said.
“Coffee’s becoming a little like wine in that it has so many different flavors that each roaster can find his or her own favorites and follow his or her own path while being his or her own boss.”
To augment coffees from such members as Trapdoor, Zolo, and Rhetoric, the cafe offers Berkeley-made June Taylor jams, syrups, and pastries from San Mateo’s The Midwife and the Baker, which stone-mills its own California-grown grain.
“People who ‘do coffee’ have so much heart energy,” Andrews said. “They really love community, and they know how to share.”
Bay Area CoRoasters, 2322 Fifth St., Berkeley, 510-542-2541, CoRoCoffee.com.