When Arcade Coffee Roasters wanted to spread the word and grow their wholesale program, they took their case to the public. They rolled a retail pop-up Barista Capsule service counter decked out with a two-group classic Linea and several manual brew methods into a bay door of their 1,200-square-foot warehouse roastery space in Riverside, Calif., and for a few hours a day, brewed and served the fruits of their 12-kilo US Roaster Corp roaster coffee directly to consumers.
Due to the out-of-the-way industrial location and the zoning limitations, the pop-up was specifically not a retail operation. The coffee was free, and donations were encouraged. “Instead of us trying to make any money off of it, we thought of it as more of a marketing opportunity,” Arcade co-founder Stevie Hasemeyer told Daily Coffee News.
“It worked!” Hasemeyer exclaimed happily. In a few short weeks, word had indeed spread enough to attract an uptick in wholesale clientele, leading the roughly nine-month-old company to scale back on the pop-up hours to focus on production.
While Arcade launched independently in June of 2015, Hasemeyer and co-founder Shane Levario first started working together in 2013 under the canopy of Torch Coffee Roasters, a China-based company the pair assisted in establishing a stateside presence. Torch was Levario’s first serious experience with coffee, while Hasemeyer’s coffee journey had already taken him on some odd adventures.
Hasemeyer started off as a home roaster on a popcorn popper. Later he scaled up to a Hottop that he drove out into the Arizona desert to purchase second-hand off of a bounty hunter. Not long after that, while spending time in China, he took another drive for about six hours out to a roastery in what was then Tibet, getting his first glimpse into a professional coffee environment in a space with a view overlooking a city. “It was this gorgeous scene, just an awesome experience,” Hasemeyer recalled.
The contacts Hasemeyer made in China lead to the affiliation with Torch, and it was after about two years of working with them that Levario and Hasemeyer struck out on their own. Arcade now roasts and sells coffees sourced through Bodhi Leaf Coffee, InterAmerican Coffee, Coffee Shrub and Red Fox Coffee Merchants, from their facility about 40 miles east of Los Angeles.
The goal is to bring some of the bigger city’s elevated coffee culture to the sleepier community of Riverside, and though they’ve scaled back the pop-up for now, Hasemeyer looks forward to a time when the company’s finances support a proper brick-and-mortar roastery café, hopefully within the next few years.
“L.A. has all this cool stuff, and Riverside didn’t for the longest time,” said Hasemeyer, who has been saddened by how many of the people he grew up with in Riverside wound up moving west and not looking back. That is, not until the time comes to settle down with families of their own, at which point Riverside’s mellower and more affordable appeal becomes apparent.
But Hasemeyer thinks Riverside can have it all. “I’m just tired of L.A. having all the cool stuff,” he said. “Let’s make something here that people are excited about… I want to be a part of that culture shift here.”