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It’s a true quantum leap: From your father’s greasy-spoon cup of joe to the double-shot vanilla latte you ordered at Starbucks this morning, in a generation, we’ve become a commercial coffee culture (heck, even McDonald's does cappuccinos, now). However, there is a downside — there’s not a lot of love in our daily brews.
But a vanguard of all-in-one buyers, roasters, brewers, and café owners like Four Barrel Coffee founder, Jeremy Tooker, are serving quite a bit of heart alongside their morning cups. A self-billed CEO, quality-control expert, creative director, mechanic, designer, builder, and janitor, Tooker puts a lot of soul into his coffee and the beautiful San Francisco site in which it's served. As he says, "We’re really just trying to make good folks happy with good coffee" — a somewhat daring goal considering how many of us opt for burnt lattes from corporate giants.
We followed Tooker into the roasting area of Four Barrel to talk style, his hipster clientele, and how he went from toiling at a coffee shop to owning one of America's best.
Barista To Boss
"My coffee career started at 17 as a barista at a small shop in a small town. I loved it and decided I wanted to work in coffee for the rest of my life (much to the initial chagrin of my parents). I worked my way into upper management for some corporate coffee companies, but they never let me get into sourcing or roasting. So, I decided to pursue it on my own terms. At 25, I co-founded Ritual Coffee Roasters — a great success. My knowledge and style evolved quickly, and, knowing that I could start over and learn from my mistakes, I sold my half two years later and founded Four Barrel Coffee."
"My personal passions lie in things that require an understanding, that can always deepen, and skills that can always be honed — surfing, motorcycles, tweaking vintage audio equipment, photography, taking care of my four-year-old son! So, even though other coffee professionals consider me an expert, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface."
"When I first walked into our building, I was struck by how beautiful it was as an empty warehouse. I wanted to beautify and highlight that rather than covering it up. We designed as we built, reusing materials that we found for cheap (or even free) without faux-finishes or fake patinas. There’s an authenticity to it. It just feels like a second home — loud, bustling, and still creative."
Once A Hipster…
"Having a shop in the Mission, I’m constantly surrounded by the young and hip. 'Hipsters' folks call them — though, these days, I’m not sure what that means anymore. My staff and clientele are pretty stylish, but being a bit older, I try to dress more my age (no more super-tight jeans). If I had to describe my style, I’d say it was understated, casual, and comfortable, with a sprinkle of hipster. I am still a hipster, after all."
The Perfect Brew
"I’ve worked my way through many style phases — high-end Japanese designers, handmade local goods, etc. I still have a penchant for all that, but I’ve settled on an outfit I’ve honed to fit my life. See, I’m always getting dirty, so I choose clothes that coffee or grease stains can’t ruin — well-made things that look better as I break them in. My everyday outfit is a gray V-neck T-shirt, a pair of jeans (I often wear the same ones for months straight), black work boots, and a good jacket. Every once in a while, I’ll break out a heavy-gauge cotton, plaid, button-down shirt. But even when I dress up, I’m still in jeans. No muss, no fuss. I believe your style should come naturally, so wear things that make you comfortable in your own skin. If it doesn’t and it’s important to you or your job, hire a professional!"
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Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Kendall Shira, Makeup by Katie Nash.