Calling the new coffee shop from the owners of Leucadia’s Surfy Surfy a labor of love is no exaggeration. Partners Jon Pankopf, Dave Thomas, and J.P. St. Pierre had a passion for running a coffee bar that would go hand in hand with the surf shop and be a warm, welcoming community hangout. To make that vision a reality, Pankopf and Thomas, the primary partners in the coffeehouse, completely transformed the empty shell of the 1926 building, right next to Surfy Surfy —crafting the counter and bar from scratch, painting, welding, doing electrical work, and pouring the concrete floor, among many, many other things.
“We wanted [Surfy Surfy] to not be like a corporate surf shop, but like a mom-and-pop surf shop and hangout for surfers, and we want that for the coffee shop, too,” says Pankopf, who was inspired by their old hangout, the former Miracles in Cardiff. “The main priority was a nice, homey place. We just knew it would be a good thing and the combination of the two would feed off each other.”
The coffee bar had its soft opening Nov. 4; it’s so new that it doesn’t have an official name yet. (Pankopf prefers Café Ipé, named after a tree with reported healing properties, but there’s wide support for Coffee Coffee.) But locals were already taking up spots at the bar, the indoor tables and on the patio during a recent weekday morning.
The eatery has a wide range of coffee drinks and hot and cold beverages. There are also baked goods, including items from plus some vegan and gluten-free items, salads, yogurts, chilled quiche, and paninis in combinations such as turkey with roasted bell pepper and roast beef with Swiss cheese.
The coffee is roasted each night by Dan Scheibe, another Leucadian who had a roaster in his garage that is now set up in the coffeehouse. Scheibe sources the organic, free-trade beans and has his own label, Revolution Roasters, sold in the coffee bar; there are future plans for a Coffee Coffee house brand. Teas are from Tea Gallerie, a regular at the local farmers market.
It’s all served in a space tailormade to the partners’ specifications. It helps, of course, that they had the know-how and skills for the project. Thomas builds high-end pools by trade, and Pankopf is an artist and screen printer who runs Factory 101; both have extensive construction experience. (St. Pierre’s family owns Moonlight Glassing, and is also known for his writings on the Leucadia Blog. His wife, Yvonne, is an architect who did all the major design, planning, and permit work. Wives Karen Pankopf and Erin Thomas are also owners and have been heavily involved in the planning process.) They built the counter from galvanized steel, metal, glass from , and slats of ipé wood. The bottom of the curving bar that surrounds the roaster in one corner is a striking, artistic version of the local beachfront cliffs, with its striations made by Pankopf custom mixing various earth-tone shades of cement — which filled more than 60 wheelbarrows — and hand shoveling it into place. They also gave the concrete floor a custom red stain that pairs well with a Guatemalan hutch Pankopf got from his parents, designers who owned a furniture store in La Jolla. Small details were paid close attention — Pankopf says he picked paint colors by comparing sample chips to cups of ground coffee, latte, and milk.
In all, it took a year of planning and six months of full-time work to get the coffee bar ready for business. Right now, it’s open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but Pankopf says there are plans to stay open later Thursday through Saturday, to accommodate open-mike nights and live music shows. They also hope to add more baristas to the eight-person staff.
“We still have a few little loose ends,” Pankopf says. “But the staff is friendly and nice, and the community has been patient waiting for us to open. This is all about the community; they’ll dictate to us how they want us to serve them.”
970 N. Coast Highway 101, 760-436-2233.