Retrograde Coffee Roasters to take over West County Coffee and Wine
West County Coffee and Wine will bid goodbye to Sebastopol next week as the Main Street coffee shop is retrofitted by its new owners, Retrograde Coffee Roasters.
The current café will close Jan. 1 for a week while Retrograde makes aesthetic improvements and dining room changes. The new café will have a soft opening on Monday, Jan. 9 followed by a grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 14.
“We are really excited for this,” said Danielle Connor, one of two principals behind the small-batch roaster.
Connor, 26, is joined by her partner Casey Lanski, 29, in the new venture. Originally from Oakland, the pair moved to Sonoma County in 2014 and established a mobile coffee and espresso cart that’s made a name for itself at farmers’ markets in Occidental, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg and Petaluma.
While working the markets, Connor and Lanski connected with farmers, purveyors and customers, learning about Sonoma County’s passion for local, sustainably sourced goods.
“We were surprised by the response about the interest in our beans,” Connor said. “People are interested in more than just the coffee beverages; they’re interested about the source of the beans.”
The interest pushed the pair to set up a brick-and-mortar location in their first Sonoma County home of Sebastopol. “Sebastopol is really funky and eclectic, has a strong appreciation for being green and really supports its small businesses,” Connor said.
Connor and Lanski are looking forward to adding to the ranks of Sebastopol’s small businesses while becoming part of the community at large. “Community members need to support each other to survive,” Lanski said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of support from local farmers and friends we’ve met along the way. We want to reciprocate that support.”
To accomplish that goal, Retrograde Coffee Roasters is dedicated to sourcing as many ingredients for their beverages, homemade pastries and other goodies as much as possible from local purveyors and farmers.
Connor says doing so is pretty easy. “Sonoma County is so unique. There are so many people and small businesses crafting really great products. Where else can you go and meet the cow where your milk comes from?” she said. “It makes sense to source everything locally.”
The café sources beans from Olam Coffee in Healdsburg and Coffee Shrub in Oakland. For their handmade syrups, chai and non-dairy milk, Connor and Lanski turn to Sonoma Spice Queen of Petaluma, Tcho Chocolate of Berkeley and Stony Point Strawberries of Santa Rosa. Other ingredients listed on the menu come from Imwalle’s Garden and Leisen’s Bridgeway Farm in Santa Rosa, Rize Up Farm in Petaluma and Rodriguez Brothers out of Watsonville.
In addition to serving hand crafted coffee drinks, the menu will also include an array of seasonal food. Customers can order a breakfast sandwich, granola parfait or oatmeal with their morning cup of coffee. Lunch will include sandwiches, salads and paninis. Throughout the day, homemade cookies, scones and muffins, along with croissants from Village Bakery, will be available for purchase.
“We’re do-it-yourselfers,” Connor said. “We make as much of what we serve as possible.”
Their intrinsic motivation has helped the pair become proficient at small batch coffee roasting. While working as baristas for coffee shops of all size in Oakland, including Peet’s Coffee and Blue Bottle, the couple began experimenting roasting their own beans.
“We began by sharing space with our friends at Beauty Bagel Shop (in Oakland),” Lanski said. “We bought a one-pound coffee roaster and started from there.”
Today, Lanski wakes up early in the morning and gets to work in the couple’s certified home kitchen in Santa Rosa, roasting four pounds of coffee at a time.
“We get a nice aroma of roasting coffee in the morning,” Lanski said. “We have it set to 60 beats per minute, so the sound is like a heartbeat. It’s nice.”
In their DIY fashion, Lanski is a self-taught roaster. Over the past few years he’s worked with suppliers and other roasters to discover what makes a roast bad, good or great.
“Great coffee is made with calculated steps in order to get the consistency and quality you love,” Lanski said. “But what makes the biggest difference is the quality and freshness of the beans.”
As such, Retrograde Coffee Roasters works with small, family coffee farmers and co-ops worldwide that are dedicated to producing small batches of high quality beans.
“There are some horror stories about what happens (to beans) during shipping,” Connor said. “We love supporting small farmers because we know we get quality beans.”
After its weekend grand opening celebration (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.), the shop will begin regular hours: Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit retrograderoasters.com.