March 23rd marked the one year anniversary since opening the doors of our second Kean Coffee at 13681 Newport Ave, Suite 14, Tustin, CA. The opening of our Tustin store was not so much a new venture as it was a return to our roots, as this was the exact location where Martin opened his first full-scale Diedrich Coffee coffeehouse many years ago, which had become a popular hangout in the community. With coffee roasted fresh onsite in a roaster built by Diedrich Manufacturing, the company created by Martin’s brother Stephan who went into the roaster building side of the coffee business, Diedrich Coffee became a local institution.
After control of Diedrich Coffee was taken over by an ambitious investor, the entire Diedrich Coffee chain was sold to Starbucks, and Starbucks opened in the Tustin location sometime after we had gotten our new start with Kean Coffee in our original Newport Beach location. In September of 2008, Starbucks announced the closure of the old Diedrich location after @ one year in business, and we immediately received numerous calls, letters and emails from old customers and community members asking if we would please return to the Tustin location. With Kean Coffee thriving in Newport Beach since December of 2005 and no immediate plans to open a second location at that point, Martin could not pass up the opportunity to be back on his old stomping grounds and return to the welcome of the Tustin community. This particular location held many fond memories for Martin, the Diedrich family, and the many wonderful folks who had worked and played there. So the planning and designing began.
As we had done with our first “baby” in Newport Beach, Martin and I combed antique shops, fabric swatches, studied color palettes, pondered lighting, flooring, etc. in an effort to create an environment that would be beautiful and rich, yet warm, inviting and personal, reflecting our personal tastes and aesthetics at this time in history. After considering various options, we again could not resist including a gorgeous Fortuny lamp imported from Venice, Italy, having fallen in love with these lamps on a trip to Venice in 1995, like those we utilized in in our Newport Beach coffeehouse. It became the centerpiece of our lighting in Tustin.
Martin envisioned a floor of stone and wood, and sourced a French limestone to combine with a rustic American hickory to create an interesting pattern and texture. Our antique American art deco condiment stand was borrowed from our Newport Coffeehouse, while Newport received our new aquisition, an antique Chinese sideboard we had discovered in our latest antiquing forays. The iron building stars that adorn our counter fronts, historic architectural elements, were very hard to find, but with persistence Martin located a company back East from which we aquired some.
We fell in love with a rustic antique Himalayan bench, I found some well-loved wood-carved wingback chairs that were begging to be re-upholstered and loved anew, and we found a delicious green marble at the marble yards for our Tustin countertops, among other ecclectic elements that ended up in our final coffeehouse environment. Martin combed through many old photos he had taken on his trips to coffee origin and selected some of his favorites to hang on the walls behind the coffee bar.
We wanted some sculptural elements in the coffeehouse, so decided to commission my sister-in-law, artist Molly Varese to create a unique metal sculpture as a backdrop to our fantastic bench. We loved the look and feel of the finished effect, but after “road-testing” the space between the bench and espresso bar, decided that for safety reasons the sculpture should be relocated to the spot it occupies outside on our back seating patio today.
The first days and weeks of opening Kean Coffee Tustin were not so much a “grand opening” as they were a reunion and a homecoming, with many old friends coming to welcome us, and even a number of past Diedrich Coffee staff who re-joined to launch the new evolution of Martin’s coffeehouse vision. Jerry Folwell, who had been our roaster in the Tustin Diedrich Coffee location for years, even came back to roast on weekends on the latest model of Stephan’s incredible coffee roaster, which this time was located in the front window of the coffeehouse.
The newly trained staff headed by manager Paul Valdez was eager and excited, and the air crackled with enthusiasm. In accordance with Kean Coffee’s “next evolution” in coffee excellence, Tustin baristas worked hard in the first few weeks to hone their espresso shot pulling and latte art skills, assisted by some of our by then expert baristi from our Newport Beach coffeehouse. After a bit of a learning curve, a healthy “competition” began to develop as Tustin baristi worked hard to achieve the Newport standards that had been established.
At this writing, it seems hard to believe that one year has already passed since opening the doors of Kean Coffee Tustin, and just a few months longer than that since we launched into the flurry of unexpected, yet exciting activity that led to that day. In honor of our anniverary, we wish to deeply thank from the bottom of our hearts all of those who “wished” us into returning home, offered support and loyalty, and have filled our Tustin coffeehouse with life, love and warmth for the past 12-months and counting. We also wish to thank our incredible Tustin staff who have infused the coffeehouse with their energy and provided a welcoming space for our guests. We look forward to many more wonderful years ahead at Kean Coffee Tustin!