Portola Coffee’s next phase: a remodeled flagship store and doughnuts
By kenneth Dennis 5 months ago In Local   Comments: Comments Off on Portola Coffee’s next phase: a remodeled flagship store and doughnuts

Six years after changing the way Orange County thinks of coffee, the flagship Portola Coffee Roasters in Costa Mesa has reopened its famed oval coffee bar after a seven-week remodel.

The redesigned coffee shop inside The OC Mix at South Coast Collection reopened late last week with a new ordering system designed to keep lines flowing while having baristas interact more closely with guests.

“The idea is you order from the barista and stay with that barista as they prepare your drink,” said owner Jeff Duggan.

Customers pay for the drink after they get it.

The cash register has been relocated to the other side of the oval bar near the beverage waiting area. The side where the cash register used to be — and where crowds were jam packed as they waited in line in a small space — has been converted to seating.

The granite top counter is bar height, allowing customers to watch the action inside the barista bar.  The glass surrounding most of the bar has also been scrapped.

“There is more of an opportunity to engage the customer with this setup as they are together until the drink is handed off and the barista is on to the next customer,” Duggan said.

Once the barista is done, he or she fetches another person waiting and line and the process starts all over.

Duggan, a self-confessed science geek who loves experimentation, has also outfitted the coffee shop with more state-of-the-art equipment to speed up service. One of his favorite new gadgets is a new coffee brewing system dubbed Seraphim.

The sleek-looking brewers control water temperature and volume to a razor sharp precision, allowing for a consistently brewed cup of coffee, Duggan said. The barista bar also added a second espresso machine that “should have a profound impact on wait times,” Duggan said.

A new pastry case out front displays baked goods from the cafe’s new partner: Crema Cafe in Seal Beach.

During construction, Portola kept guests caffeinated by serving them from Theorem, the cafe’s six-seat specialty coffee bar around the corner.

In the coming weeks, Duggan said he plans to convert the space with a new food concept: doughnuts and milk.

Specifically, he and his wife, Christa, are looking at made-to-order mini doughnuts with eight flavors of draft milk.

Stay tuned.

In May 2011, the Duggans opened Portola Coffee Lab, which quickly generated a cult-like following for its science-based roasting and brewing methods.

Baristas in lab coats eventually became impractical, so the shop ditched the coats a year later and has continued to evolve and grow ever since.

Portola, which roasts beans on-site in Costa Mesa, changed its name to Portola Coffee Roasters a few years ago as it earned acclaim in the industry for its coffee.

Jeff and Christa Duggan have since opened five other cafes, most of them in hipster-driven food halls across Orange County including Union Market in Tustin and Mission Viejo, Lot 579 in Huntington Beach, and 4th Street Market in Santa Ana.  Portola also has a small outpost inside Provisions Market in Old Town Orange.

The changes at Portola come as more consumers, especially younger generations, seek “gourmet” coffee experiences.  In 2017, American’s daily coffee consumption was projected to jump 62 percent this year, up from 57 percent in 2016, according to a 2017 trends report by the National Coffee Association.

The daily consumption for ages 13-18 was projected to rise 37 percent in 2017, up from 31 percent a year ago.

“More of us are drinking coffee, and younger consumers appear to be leading the charge,”
said Bill Murray, chief executive of the association, which has been tracking coffee trends since 1950.

Jeff and Christa Duggan, along with Martin Diedrich of Kean Coffee, are considered craft coffee pioneers in Orange County. Both coffeehouse brands have spawned dozens of rivals to open such as Hopper & Burr (launched by a former Portola barista), Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders, The Aussie Bean, Bear Coast Coffee, and Contra Coffee and Tea.

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