Friday, June 1

inspired by locals: dan from coffee & tea collective

In the spirit of following my own entrepreneurial passions, I have decided to start a mini series of interviews with local San Diegans who have started their own businesses. The amount of inspirational people we have in this area alone is truly impressive; but hearing their success stories and finding out what drives their creativity is what I find most interesting and inspirational.

"It's nice and strong but hopefully light enough to drink with pleasure," Daniel Holcomb says to a customer as he carefully prepares an individual cup of coffee. His precision, focus and general congeniality caught my eye, but it was his iced tea that captured my taste buds (no really... Starbucks doesn't stand a chance)! This last week, his coffee shop opened in North Park so naturally, I had to do some investigating. Inconspicuously located on El Cajon Blvd., Coffee & Tea Collective is a simple coffee roastery and tasting bar specializing in pour over coffee sourced from some of the best beans around the world.

Holcomb, founder of C&T, is dedicated to promoting a very relationship-oriented style of business; not a linear transfer of coffee for money but more of a circular relationship where the consumer benefits from the product provided. Holcomb hopes to improve San Diego’s overall coffee presence in the world. No big deal... easy, right?

daniel holcomb founder of coffee & tea collective in north park, san diego

I had the opportunity to sit down [and by sit down I mean I sat and he paced back and forth, too dedicated and hyped on caffeine to take a break] and since then, I have been in almost everyday for an iced tea [they have agave nectar as a sweetener, obviously I was sold]. Plus, no matter how many straight hours he's been up, Dan is always upbeat and friendly, serving his customers graciously and with a smile on his face [how could you not want to be this guy's friend].

photo credit: lauren millslagle

How did you get into the roasting business?

I was first introduced when lived in Costa Rica where I toured several coffee farms. But around the middle of 2009 I knew wanted to start a business with Thomas [business partner] but didn’t know what form that would take. I had the opportunity to go to Venice Beach and visit Intelligentsia and that's where my love for specialty coffee really began.

Where did you learn to roast?

I learned to roast at a roasting school in San Francisco and roasted on many types of roasters including the San Franciscan (my roaster now). Once I came back down, I bought a sample roaster. Recently I've upgraded to the new roaster which has 25 pounds of capacity whereas the sample roasted was only a 2-pound roaster. This was a huge leap for me.

What are you looking for in your coffee's taste?

I'm looking to highlight each bean's original and varietal flavors. Coffee beans get flavor from how high they grow, which type of coffee plant they come from and the soil they grow in. So essentially I want to highlight those characteristics. I also do lots of research on each bean and lots of test roasts and I find one [roast] that highlights all the positive characteristics of that bean.

Do you roast in the store? 
Yes; I roast about eight batches per week.

What can the North Park community look forward to in the future from Coffee & Tea?
We're looking to partner with Tiger! Tiger! and Sezio for a grand ole event. I'm hoping this will happen in about a month... late June.

photo credit: lauren millslagle                

Eventually, Dan will incorporate food into his shop. His first official partnership is with Elizabethan Desserts from Encinitas, California.

{Coffee & Tea Collective is located at 2911 El Cajon Blvd. San Diego, California 92014}


Sienna said...

how cool, I'm from san diego and never even knew about this!

Allie said...

it's so wonderful! the best part are the owners and people who hangout there... great place to meet some locals!

Anonymous said...!! I want to go to there. This place looks like a dream come true!

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said...

What a great post, loooove me some coffee!

Alia Albonni said...

If you're ever up in Orange County, I must take you to Portola Coffee Lab... similar concept. Best coffee ever!