On a journey through Indonesia at the turn of the millennium, Sean Kohmescher became captivated by the ornate Buddhist temples he came across there – focal points of spirituality and community togetherness visited several times daily by members of its surrounding village to refuel, converse, pray, and read.
In 2005, Kohmescher decided to introduce a touch of Southeast Asian tradition to Sacramento, opening Temple Coffee Roasters as a hub for rejuvenation, camaraderie and caffeine. Coffee varietals farmed in the country, such as the Sumatra Ulos Batak, are served in stores year-round.
Temple now plans to open its fourth cafe in Davis on Aug. 15 as the first location outside of coffee-centric Sacramento. The store will feature modern interior design and state-of-the-art coffee equipment that just may resemble a UC Davis chemistry lab, mirroring the town’s young, academic climate.
Their fifth location – and second midtown store – is expected to launch in October.
Since the local purveyor started roasting beans at their S Street warehouse in 2009, Temple coffees have ranked nationally amongst the top five specialty coffees in 2013 and 2014, according to Coffee Review, an influential industry guide.
The Bee caught up with Temple’s Coffee education director Cole Cuchna on his mid-afternoon coffee break to learn more about what’s in store for Temple.
Q: How does the upcoming Davis location compare to your current shops?
A: The Davis store will be similar to our Sacramento stores in its presence of young people who tend to gravitate toward this style of specialty coffee. It also has an obviously huge number of college student mixed with a more mature demographic – who already enjoy their morning cup of coffee and may be willing to try us out. We expect customers from Davis who have visited our Temple locations in Sac.
Q: This will be your first store directly outside of Sacramento. What does this mean for Temple?
A: We are seeing a big growth in specialty coffee everywhere because there is more of it. I think we are just adding to the growth of more and more small, local specialty coffee shops. Recently, Sacramento has gained a reputation for being a hub for specialty coffee. We’ve even had people come in from out of town who are on a Sacramento coffee tour. I think we are just expanding our reach and making Temple more accessible.
Q: What can customers expect from the store’s cutting edge brewing devices?
A: Davis will have a modern pour-over bar; Nitro iced coffee and iced tea makers; and 4-foot-tall Kyoto iced coffee drippers – all are firsts in Sacramento and Davis. The Kyoto drippers essentially look like giant beakers; they funnel water through a valve that produces one drip of cold-brewed coffee every two seconds. Our Nitro makers will feature iced coffee and tea on tap, including a very fruity iced Cascara cherry tea made from dried coffee cherries. With our sleek, mod pour-over bar, we can make a fresh cup of coffee just for you with our highest quality coffees. These aren’t in our other stores yet.
Q: Temple will be releasing a new coffee varietal in celebration of 10 years and its Davis opening. How is this coffee special?
A: We are launching a super rare coffee varietal called the Panama Don Pepe Fully Washed Geisha. We’re selling it for $40 per half pound – which is relatively cheap considering other companies sell that quantity of Geisha for $60 to $70.
Our Geisha was just ranked 96 out of 100 by Coffee Review, the industry’s trusted third-party scorer of specialty roasts, based on things like the coffee’s body, acidity, sweetness and finish. It’s a big deal given that 97 is the highest score ever given, only a handful of times.
Q: Do you worry about competition with Davis specialty coffee purveyor Pachamama?
A: I don’t see it as competition – and that’s not because we’re doing something completely different, we just have different styles. For the industry to grow, we need each other – the more of us the better. It’s been our experience that every time another specialty coffee shop opens up nearby ours, we get busier. I don’t know why exactly, but could guess that more specialty coffee shops make specialty coffee less scary and more accessible to try, rather than falling back on the safety of Starbucks and Peet’s.
Q: Speaking of which, how does Temple differ from most big-name coffee shops?
A: The majority of our coffees are directly sourced and bought in much smaller quantities. We have a green coffee buyer personally traveling the world for six to eight months of the year to purchase coffee based solely on quality. Also, what most people don’t see is our really selective barista hiring and training process – we have our own private training facility where baristas practice full-time for a month before ever making a drink for a customer. Both help us with quality control.
Q: Do you plan to expand beyond the Sacramento area into, say, coffee-crazed San Francisco?
A: It’s definitely possible for the future. We’ve been looking at Davis and midtown, and that’s been enough to keep us really busy for now. The Bay Area is definitely somewhere where we see a market, although maybe not directly within the city.