surf-shop-proof-lab co-founder and First Tiger Zachary Carlsen recently attended the grand opening of Equator Coffee and Tea’s first-ever retail coffee bar. Equator are longstanding friends and partners with this publication. Here’s Mr. Carlsen’s notes and photos from a lovely shindig in Marin County.

Last weekend I did indeed attend the very first day of public service at Equator’s stunning new coffee shop, located at the Proof Lab Surf Shop, in the Bay Area’s beautiful Marin County.  My journey started by hopping on the bus – the beer bus! Equator booked out a fabulous brews cruise that set sail from Mavelous, a lovely multiroaster cafe in San Francisco’s schizophrenic Civic Center neighborhood. The bus was chockablock with representatives from Blue Bottle, Ritual, Four Barrel, Stanza, Linea Caffe, Flywheel Coffee, Front, and Sightglass, to name just a few.

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With custom stainless Equator cups filled with IPAs, we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge on an idyllic and rare sunny San Francisco June afternoon. The conversation on the bus veered from Che Garcia’s recent BACC win, espresso shots, beer breweries, punctuated by silent moments when the conversation would stop to look at para-skiing in the Bay, or the jaw dropping view from the bridge.


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The shop itself is ten minutes from the bridge, situated in a perfect parking little lot with generous outdoor seating, for those for always sunny Marin coffee days. Equator owner Helen Russell showed off the shop’s impressive collection of gorgeous wood surf boards, some of which will eventually become a carved menu and fencing for outside.


The space has countless surf boards lining the wall, a gorgeous red and yellow LM Strada, and a brilliant K-30 grinder and Robur. Folks mingled, chatted, and reveled in the friendly intersection of cross-shop talent represented at the event; it was as though that long, scenic bus trip unified us all (the beer may have also helped in this regard).

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My favorite moment of the evening? “You have to meet Erna Knutsen,” Helen Russell told me. Erma is 92 years old, and is credited with coining the phrase “specialty coffee”, all the way back in 1974. I must admit that she seemed to enjoy me as well. “You have such thick hair!” she told me, reaching out to yank my curls. A woman such as Erna Knutsen is allowed to take such liberties; meeting her is easily one of my favorite moments in the annals of Sprudge 2013.


By the end of the night, most had Equator tattoos on their necks. I personally contributed to the good vibes by laying down Les Baxter, Dick Dale, The Blazers, and by special request from Helen, The Beach Boys. Stay loose. Easy like Sunday morning, man.



Equator Coffee and Teas at Proof Lab is located at 254 Shoreline hwy, Mill Valley, California. For hours and details, visit Equator Coffees online

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