Coffee Bar, San Francisco

An espresso-inspired retail concept warms up the Financial District
Posted January 14, 2013

San Francisco’s Coffee Bar is part of the “Third Wave” movement in coffee – the evolution of java from mere caffeine buzz (Folgers) to specialty drink (Starbucks) to curated culinary experience. Small, local roasters obsess about bean sourcing, roasting, blends and brew methods to craft premium coffee and espresso.

Founded three years ago, Coffee Bar is a new face in San Francisco, and its curated menu contains specialty coffee and espresso drinks, including fair-trade roasts sourced by Mr. Espresso, a Bay Area institution and espresso equipment importer.

In the city’s stately Financial District, Coffee Bar tasked Jones | haydu (San Francisco) with transforming a 496-square-foot storage space into its latest Coffee Bar with gourmet espresso and coffee, as well as a few shelves of grab-and-go edibles, high-end teas and merchandise.

The design team maximized a full-height glass storefront and covered the ceiling and walls with warm maple plywood. Dimmable fluorescent lighting is staggered throughout the wood ceiling, maintaining the store’s simple lines and creating a glowing beacon that invites hurried pedestrians to dash in from the street.

For faster service, indoor seating areas were sacrificed to allow a second barista behind the counter. “There are world class plazas within 200 yards of the shop, so why not have [patrons] enjoy the city itself?” explains principal Hulett Jones.

But even with grab-and-go speed, the company wanted to highlight its artistry in crafting each cup. That led to hand-run espresso machines that stand out on white quartz service counters designed like stages. On the wall, a placard-style sign inspired by old train signs displays menu items.

“There’s a lot to the design that was about theatricality,” says Jones. “We looked at the big arching wood [walls and ceiling] as a proscenium in a theater.”

Project Suppliers

Retailer: Coffee Bar, San Francisco

Designer/Architect: Jones | haydu, San Francisco; Hulett Jones, principal; Paul Haydu, principal

Lighting: J.S. Nolan + Associates Lighting Design LLC, San Francisco

Furniture: Selamat Designs, San Francisco

Lighting: A-Light, Oceanside, Calif.

Ceilings/General Contractor: Northern Sun, South San Francisco, Calif.

Materials: Caesarstone, Van Nuys, Calif.

Photography: Bruce Damonte, San Francisco