An established roasting company with roots in Oaxaca, Mexico, Proyecto Diaz Coffee is opening its first brick-and-mortar cafe next week in Oakland, California.
Coffees for the shop will be coming from the company’s new roastery, which has vastly expanded capacity while supplying existing wholesale accounts and Proyecto Diaz’s stand at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco.
The new cafe, meanwhile, is located within the American Steel building industrial complex in West Oakland. It boasts 1,100 square feet of space while offering seating for 25 guests.
Fernando and Hannah-Love Diaz, the married cofounders of Proyecto Diaz, strove to reflect the company’s deep connections to Mexico, as well as its roots in the Bay Area, when designing the new shop.
Light grey counters, exposed metal ductwork and white walls and tiles reinforce the restrained color palette that provides a backdrop for the colorful objects and images around the shop. Large framed photos of family members and scenes from Mexico adorn the walls. Earthy Oaxacan barro negro clay pieces sit on wooden shelves, while Mexican terracotta holds vibrant leafy plants throughout the space.
“We wanted to have a canvas that would allow us to touch it up with natural elements,” Fernando Diaz told Daily Coffee News. “Those elements that are not the pictures, the walls and the tabletop, we wanted to be very organic, so that it almost feels like you’re walking into a museum… We’re curating the space more than creating the space.”
The seating Diaz designed was fabricated locally by Treasure Island Woodworks, and the shop’s drink and food ceramics were made by fellow West Oakland company LuvHaus, whose studio is near the Diaz home about a mile away from the cafe.
“They’re neighbors, essentially. Their stuff is super minimal, it’s clean, and it has this very earthen feel to it,” said Diaz. “We saw [LuvHaus] stuff before ever before having the opportunity for the cafe, and we love them.”
When it opens Dec. 11, the cafe will serve a full selection of espresso and drip coffee options, including a cafe de olla latte, coffee slushies and a cold brew lemonade. A pourover bar will showcase single origin coffees.
While a more robust food program for the cafe remains in development, the shop will open with locally made tamales in addition to house-made salads, tres leches, overnight oats and “street-stylized” fruit cups.
Proyecto Diaz Head Roaster Genaro Diaz, Fernando Diaz’s father, has since March been operating the company’s San Franciscan SF25 roaster alongside the company’s older SF6 machine. Both are up and running inside the company’s new 3,300-square-foot roastery.
The SF6 machine is the central engine of a new premium roasted coffee series from Proyecto Diaz called Terruño. The line of limited releases will feature things like sophisticated post-harvest processing, exceptional quality or small experimental lots.
The line recently debuted with a honey-process Gesha variety grown in Coatepec Veracruz, Mexico. Another upcoming Terruño release will be the first natural-processing experiment from the Diaz family’s own farm in Oaxaca, called El Carmen.
The roasting company continues to devote a percentage of its profits to refurbishing El Carmen, which is run by Fernando’s grandfather, Juan Leovigildo Diaz.
“The crop is actually looking to be one of the best crops, but there’s a lack of labor,” said Diaz. “That’s making it difficult to pick everything that we need to pick, and this whole past month it’s been raining pretty hard, which has been damaging a lot of the fruit. So, you know, it’s about balancing our expectations.”
The Ferry Market stand will pause for the winter while the company focuses on getting the new cafe on its feet.
“We’ve been doing a lot. This year has been a year of condensed growth,” said Diaz. “The upcoming year we’ll be letting the irons that we have in the fire start cooling down. 2023 has been a year of pounding the steel; this next year is going to be sharpening the steel.”