It's been a little while since we heard from Keith Gehrke, the inventor of the Able Kone, a stainless steel coffee brewing filter. Since moving the Able brand down to California, Gehrke's focus has widened to include consulting on a number of cafe projects, including the roasting brand of Berkeley, California's Local 123 (profiled here).
His latest project is States Coffee & Mercantile, a coffee bar and boutique in the East Bay city of Martinez, California. Known for its preserved historic downtown, States will slot right in to another Martinez preservation project, housed inside a former post office. Great coffee has spread to every last town and nook of the Bay Area, it seems, and now Martinez is in the batter's box.
As told to Sprudge by the States Coffee team. Photos by Brett Benzer (@bbenzer).
For those who aren't familiar, will you tell us about your company?
States Coffee & Mercantile is a new retail store with a strong coffee focus, created by the founder of Able Brewing Equipment, Pony Brand Coffee, and former co-owner of Coava Coffee. Sharing the same Made in USA mission statement as Able, States will feature a curated selection of hand-crafted goods such as thrown ceramics, wool blankets, soy candles, cutting boards, and similar home items.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Our space was a part of the old downtown post office in Martinez. A 5-year renovation was recently completed on the historic building. Once we saw the spaces, we knew immediately we wanted to call one of them home.
What's your approach to coffee?
States Coffee will be sourced and roasted by our owner Keith Gehrke on a Proaster 5-kilo. He has been roasting coffee for 10 years now. About 2-3 single origins and a blend will be available at a time. We will be serving all our drinks on a custom-built mobile cart inside the retail store. Our menu will be fairly stripped down due to our size and space limitations. Pour-over coffee using the Kone, espresso drinks featuring mochas with Dick Taylor Chocolate and a few teas from Portland’s The Jasmine Pearl.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We have our fingers crossed the super cute one-group La Marzocco Linea can keep up with the task of making delicious drinks for your enjoyment. Some grab-and-go drinks will be available also, like cold brew and carbonated tea in glass bottles. Local cold-pressed juice will be available from Happy Moose Juice. The team at HMJ is so passionate about fresh, healthy ingredients and their recipes are the tastiest ever!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
Yes! Our close friend James Mackessy designed and built the coffee cart, retail shelves, and a few tables for the space. He sourced beautiful walnut and redwood to create the pieces in his Boulder Creek workshop. He and his wife run Lille æske, a gallery and boutique. James and Keith met in Portland where James was an instrumental part in the build-out of the Coava Coffee and Bamboo Revolution showroom. We also teamed up with artist Cymone Wilder to create the branding for States. Instagram is such a great tool to meet artists and we were connected to her through mutual friends. There are many more to mention that create the goods we offer at the store but we will save those stories for when you visit!
Dig deep with more features in our Build-Outs Of Summer archives.
Correction: An earlier version of the article named Keith Gehrke as co-founder of Coava Coffee. Keith Gehrke is a former co-owner of Coava Coffee.