Two Sacramentans with a decade each working in local coffee bars are set to branch out on their own this week as they open Insight Coffee Roasters at Eighth and S streets.
Ben Lance and Lucky Rodrigues met about five years ago when they both worked at Temple Coffee, and their idea of what a coffee business should be is set to open Wednesday – possibly as early as Monday or Tuesday if all goes well.
“We’re opening this to stay in coffee, not just to own something in coffee,” Rodrigues said. “We want to do this our whole lives, and this is a way to stay in it and not earn minimum wage in our 40s.”
The premise of the business is to keep things simple while providing sustainable coffee to the Southside Park area, Lance said.
“Simplicity is the most effective concept,” Lance said. “We’re working directly with coffee growers in El Salvador and Guatemala. We’re actually going down there in a couple of weeks to meet them and see their sustainable business and know that they’re able to put a roof over their families’ heads.”
Working through Atlantic Specialty – a business that connects coffee roasters in the United States with coffee growers – Lance said Insight Coffee will be able to trace where each shipment is coming from and know that it’s not exploitative.
“We want to work with like-minded people,” Rodrigues said. “We’re really into sustainability, and we have a high attention to detail, so it’s nice to work with people who feel the same way.”
In keeping with the simplicity theme, furniture consists of a few couches along the back wall of the roughly 2,000-square-foot cafe area, wooden counters along the windows and a host of wooden tables built by Rodrigues. Chairs in the space are theater seats built in 1918 that used to be in the basement of the Masonic Lodge on J Street.
The space will hold 40 people, and Rodrigues said the emphasis is on community, with large communal tables and an open atmosphere.
Lance said that free Wi-Fi will be offered, but there are only about eight outlets in the seating area.
“We don’t want this to be a place where everyone is clicking away on their laptops and you’re afraid to make a sound,” Lance said. “We want you to play a board game or sit and have a conversation.”
Music will be provided by an old record player, and Lance said he wants to bring the work of local artists in two or three times per month to make use of the extensive wall space.
All the coffee will be French press, and while iced drinks will be available, there aren’t any plans to provide blended iced drinks or smoothies.
A standard cup of coffee will cost $2.25, and the most expensive drinks will be about $4.50.
A unique style of brewing using Chemex coffeemakers will be available, in which coffee is brewed in a hand-blown glass pitcher to the customer’s specifications. The 24-ounce vessel will cost $5 and is meant to be shared.
All milk and sugar in the business will be organic, with the milk being the Crystal organic line, from cows that live near Chico, Lance said.
“It will be reflected in the price, maybe a nickel or 10 cents more per cup, but it’s organic from the start,” he said.
The coffee roaster, in the approximately 2,000-square-foot space behind the cafe, was custom-made in Nevada.
Business hours will be 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. every day, and Lance said if business levels dictate, he will extend them. He said he also plans to bring in live music, with local bands playing two or three nights per week once Insight Coffee is up and running.
Another future addition, Rodrigues said, will be a beer bottle shop.
“We’re just waiting on our license,” he said. “We want to bring in beers from abroad – beers that follow sort of the same idea as our coffee. We want this place to be a mature area where people can lounge and have a drink, without being a bar.”
Insight Coffee Roasters, 1901 Eighth St., will be open from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. every day. The scheduled opening date is Wednesday.