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Five Large

It is with great pleasure that I announce that Bica turns FIVE on Wednesday, August 19. To celebrate, we will again be offering free brew coffee all day and this year, one great tea as well. I hear many accolades, some direct, others indirect, but very recently, while in the casual carpool on the way into SF, two folks broke the silence and started talking about the great café on the corner. I couldn’t resist jumping in and as the conversation continued, what I relished the most was one of the long-term Rockridge residents describing Bica as an important thread in the fabric of our local community.

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The Birds and the Beans

As we blow past Winter and right into Spring here in the Bay Area, I’m reminded of two constants in life:  birds mixing it up and the incredible array of beans available at Bica.  The Robins and Varied Thrushes have started their annual dance in late January, an event that really should happen in the middle of February.  Now all the birds are at it:  Titmice, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Finches…..even Pine Siskins and Band-tailed Pigeons!  It’s a glory to behold, but it comes for a reason:  while the rest of the country, especially my hometown of Boston, are getting hammered by deep freezes and copious amounts of snow, we didn’t see a drop of rain in the entire month of January and our temperatures have been unseasonably high.  This drought is for real, but at least the birds are awesome.

Also in the month of January, Bica saw 25 different bags of beans being sold from our six roaster line up, featuring Verve (Santa Cruz), Ritual (SF), Four Barrel (SF), Heart (Portland), Coava (Portland), and Intelligentsia (Chicago / LA).  On top of that, the new BicaBeanClub members saw an additional 4 bags which were unique to the BeanClub.  We featured 8 coffees just from Heart, focusing on the great coffee producing countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Colombia.  We concurrently cupped three fantastic coffees from Intelligentsia, including a jammy joe from the highest coffee farm on earth, in Bolivia.  We were lucky enough to get our hands on a small number of Four Barrel’s Honduras “San Marcos” Peaberry — from their “smalls” program (Four Barrel bagged only 150 bags of this bean) — and pass this along to our BeanClub members.  We’re constantly sampling in the store, usually in the afternoons, so please swing by.  Here’s the current menu.

The new members of the expanding BicaTeam are gelling wonderfully with those that have been around for a while.  Harper is closing in on her 2-year anniversary (May); Ryan and Emily have each ticked over their 1-year; Alice, Claire, and Hanna are all nearing their first half-year; and they’re joined by new BicaTeam members, Paigelynn and Daniel.  Claire had a lovely customer story to pass along to me last week:  a current regular customer shook her hand and told her that he remembered his first cup of coffee from Bica, served by me outside the store early one morning.  Often, Cameron would man the shop and I would take a Zojirushi filled with hot French Press out to the sidewalk on College Ave and sample out or even charge for coffee, as a way to promote the store.  This gent remembered that and told Claire he has been a customer ever since.
Being from Boston, naturally I’m happy that the Pats won SB XLIX, but I have to be honest, I can’t wait for what’s around the corner when another great Vernal rite shows up.  This new-look Red Sox team can only be better than last year’s!
Back to the grind!
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Canines and Geshas

Poking around the Rockridge shops recently, I’ve received many warm wishes from customers and merchants for the great coffee and experience at our little café.  Bica’s multi-roaster concept and laid-back vibe truly comes to life during this festive time of year.  We’ve had three stellar Geshas from Verve on the BicaBrewBar during the past few weeks and customers have given vociferous thumbs-ups.  The variety of other roasters’ coffees has spanned the globe, including a stand-out Rwanda from Intelligentsia, Ethiopian from Heart, El Salvadoran from Coava, Kenyan from Four Barrel, and a Honduran from Ritual.  The BicaBean club allows regular bean buyers the chance to get “off-menu” coffees that are unique to the club, at a discount.  But it’s really the vibe in the store that is so special.  Despite the great rain we’ve been having, or perhaps because of it, the store has been packed with revelers of all ages.  We at Bica are truly blessed to be an integral part of Rockridge’s College Ave scene.

You may have seen some lovely sketches of dogs in the southwest corner of the store lately.  Amanda is involved with the good folks at PALS (People, Animals, Live, Support) and we’re now featuring a corner in the store for adoptable dogs.  Adopting pets is wonderful and kind and not-as-hard-as-you-think: we’ve both fostered and adopted.  Thanks go to local artist Kate Merriman for sprucing up the place!

A brief shout out to Justine and Morgan who both leave Bica this week…what a bittersweet week it is.  Justine moves on to Four Barrel, look for her at their Valencia store.  Morgan moves back to Austin to pursue her academic dream.  I cannot thank either of them adequately for their professionalism and leadership in developing the unique Bica experience.  It truly has been an absolute joy to work side-by-side with these two wonderful women.  I wish each of them only great success in the future.

Bica is a team effort:  generous customers, loyal partners, and devoted BicaTeam.  I would like to raise my mug and wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday Season, and Bountiful 2015!

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Bean Curation

Customers have asked, we’re now going to deliver. The BicaBean Club is now available for our most devout customers. With a roster of six of the finest roasters in the world on show, Bica is uniquely positioned to offer a diverse array of beans on an ongoing basis. Similar, but different, to offering six different Ethiopian coffees at one time, the BicaBean Club will offer beans that may be off-menu at that current time. Sign up or pass along as a gift to someone who loves curated beans.

The BicaTeam has been growing lately adding some new baristas and about to lose a couple of biggies. We welcome newcomers Alice, Claire, Chris, and Hanna to the squad; but concurrently we bid farewell to Read More »

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Ethiopia Dreamin’

A few weeks back as the baseball season went into over-drive (Go Gigantes!), in an effort to stay awake for all of the games, I sought out great coffee.  I noticed a plethora of great Ethiopian and Kenyan coffees on local menus, including some on Bica’s. We decided to see if we could find a time when all six of Bica’s roasting partners were roasting coffees from the same country. The stars will align starting Saturday, 18OCT14 when we offer dreamy Ethiopian coffees of all kinds at Bica. Bica is uniquely positioned to pull this off. At no other coffeehouse will you find six of the highest quality roasters on one brew bar; to be able to feature a coffee from the same country….albeit Ethiopia, the home of the Arabica bean….is special indeed. It will allow us to really see the nuances in the coffees, various roasting styles, and micro-regions within one country. This really is becoming a bit like wine. Read More »

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Number 4 Brewin’

Slap! Back of the unguarded net every time. Over and Over. Repeating my favorite Boston Bruin’s number, “Number Four….Bobby Orr….he shoots, he scores!”. As a young kid growing up in Boston, he was everyone’s hero. I think it was at this point that I became somewhat obsessed with all things numerical. And now, Bica is on the verge of realizing her Fourth Anniversary!

This Tuesday, the 19th of August, Bica will be serving free coffee all day to celebrate the day, toasting her loyal and devoted customers as well as her incredibly generous roasting partners. Read More »

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Song From the Heart

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Not sure who said that, but it’s apropos at Bica at the moment. Our commitment to provide the highest quality coffee within a homey environment has never wavered. It’s this focused commitment that guides us through tricky times and has us prepared to pounce when opportunities arise. The most visible change in the store, besides the newly discovered flooring, has been to the BicaTeam itself. The new line-up is in place and firing on all cylinders. Please introduce yourself to Ryan, Emily, Andrew, and Morgan, who now augment Cameron, Justine, Jonah, and Harper on the line. I thank Bryn, Taylor, and Claire for their dedication to Bica, and while I’m sad to see them leave, I know that they moved on for personal growth and goals. While they can’t be replaced identically, the new collection of individuals is building on the work that they did while at Bica while bringing new talents. Read More »

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Moby Duck

The holiday season has come and gone, but memories linger on. Something about the aromas that emanate from Bica help stoke the merriment engine. The BicaTeam was on fire, happy to have such a loyal group of regulars who lap up the various coffees on the menu. One stand out has been Four Barrel’s “Andino Especial” from southern Huila, Colombia. Andino is a co-operative of 200 small farmers; Four Barrel selected seven producers from this group after cupping hundreds of samples. These are some of the finest Caturra beans found in Colombia. While we’re very happy to have it on the BicaBrewBar, we were also fortunate to get some from 4B that was roasted as a Single Origin Espresso. Bica prides herself not only on having a huge array of beans that rotates regularly, but also on being able to offer one bean roasted and prepared in two different ways. Look for us to feature an SOE from Coava soon, which we will also have on the BrewBar. Read More »

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Beans and Beards

I don’t know if it’s because Taylor’s finally back from her Pacific Crest Trail Trek, or if it’s because the Sox dominated in October, or if it’s just that coffee roasters are just getting better and better, but the conversation has deepened around the coffee. No longer are we just referring to coffee’s origin as “Ethiopia”, but rather “Ethiopia Kochere”; we don’t really talk about “Robusta” or “Arabica” when describing beans, but rather “SL28” or “Gesha”; I hear the team and customers referring not just to “apple” as a flavor, but “granny smith” because it’s not just appl-ey, but it’s a tart apple. Read More »

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