Mostra Coffee is finding its way through the challenging COVID-19 retail and regulatory landscape with the opening of its second cafe in Southern California.
The 2020 Roast magazine Roaster of the Year award winner’s new 1,450-square-foot coffee shop in 4S Ranch north of of San Diego constitutes a homecoming of sorts for the company, which can trace its roots back to a home garage there.
“Opening this store is so exciting because the community rallied for us to open there,” Mostra co-founder Jelynn Malone told Daily Coffee News. “A petition was made to get us in there and over 1,200 people signed it in less than 24 hours. It will forever mean the world to us.”
Malone’s husband James Malone, who led the buildout, took inspiration from classic French design, with a focus on dark stone surfaces and copper metal accents, as opposed to the English-inspired wood and concrete emphasis in the company’s first retail environment in Carmel Mountain Ranch, said Jelynn.
Both shops feature a lower-than-standard bar height to allow for better communication between customers and baristas while relying on low-profile and under-counter equipment such as Mavam espresso systems to reinforce that connection.
“Our bar was intentionally designed to be low and open with no equipment obstructing anyone’s view of watching our team prepare drinks,” said Malone. “A low bar allows our team the opportunity to connect with our guests.”
Both shops pull shots on 3-group Mavam counter-mounted systems, while a black and brass 2-group Mavam resides at the roastery, where drinks are not currently served although tours are still offered. However, the roastery-based 2-group is installed on a mobile cart that has been making the rounds.
“Since winning ROTY, we have had tons of TV interviews,” said Malone. “We bring this machine with us to our TV appearances and big events. Mavam has been such a dynamic machine for us. It allows us to really create a show and experience for our guests.”
Mostra was proactive in addressing the need for greater surface sterilization, protective equipment and social distancing even in advance of subsequent COVID-19 regulations, according to Malone, who said the company now continues to adheres to all CDC guidelines and fortunately never had to close entirely. A new online ordering system and curbside express pick-up services have kept the business humming along.
“[We] did whatever we could do to get ahead of it,” Malone said. “Our entire team was so strict about following all of their guidelines and enforcing it to keep our staff and our guests feeling safe being there.”
Despite these challenges, fun is also an essential part of the Mostra’s business, as exemplified by a variety of creative drink specials. In tribute to the founders’ connections to the Philippines, the Turon Crème Brûlée Cappuccino takes inspiration from a Filipino dessert consisting of fried banana and jackfruit, while the Bibingka Crème Brûlée Latte is made with coconut-infused milk and topped with coconut powder in homage to yet another Filipino dessert. A butterscotch cold brew and Neapolitan Banana Split cold brew have also both proven popular according to Malone.
Mostra also recently launched its first instant coffee products in collaboration with instant-maker Sudden Coffee, although that product is now on hold as Sudden has temporarily suspended production due to the pandemic.
In the meantime, Mostra is working on releasing a line of canned cold brews, while waiting and watching for a time when progress can resume towards opening a third retail location planned for Mira Mesa.
“To be completely honest, COVID-19 changed everything,” Malone said of the company’s future plans, which until recently included firm intentions to expand into San Francisco, New York and potentially also Manila, with roasting facilities in each. “It’s been really difficult to plan or know what to expect. We’ve just been taking it one day at a time for now.”
The new Mostra Coffee location is open now at 10550 Craftsman Way #187, San Diego.