New establishments keep popping up in Oakland's Uptown neighborhood, and Coloso Coffee is another recent addition that's just joined the diverse coffee scene. Coloso, which translates to "colossal" in Spanish, is a cheeky reference to the shop's petite 370-square-foot space.
Co-owners Renzo Gianella and Jose Posadas have been friends for over 15 years since they originally met in Lima, Peru. "I moved to the Bay Area when I was 10 years old and met Renzo when I moved back to Lima after high school in '97," says Posadas. "Renzo moved to Oakland almost two years ago. I had been toying around with the idea of opening a small shop in a downtown or financial district setting." Posadas spent two years as a barista at San Francisco's Grand Coffee and loved the cozy 200-square-foot setting of this Mission neighborhood establishment.
"In mid-2010 on a trip to Lima, I told Renzo about my plans and right then and there he said he would like to be a part of it. He had been planning to move to the Bay Area and had since taken a huge interest in specialty coffee as the scene developed in Lima. He was very much aware of the local roasters adopting Third Wave practices such as profiling coffee and moving to a lighter roast. Trips between San Francisco and Lima followed, including two trips to coffee farms and co-ops in the Peruvian region of Oxapampa in 2011 and 2012."
Once they decided to launch their venture, the search was on for a location in 2012. "We researched and visited dozens of neighborhood shops trying to figure what our niche could be. The biggest challenge was to find something small. Low rent was essential, considering our limited budget of under $20K. By the end of 2012, we realized that opening in San Francisco was out of the question. Rising rents were a clear sign that we had missed that boat and decided to look for other options," noted Posadas.
"I still live in the city now, but Renzo moved into Oakland on his arrival in California and we naturally saw Oakland as an option. Renzo was the one that actually found the location while biking around the area. The size was right, but the storefront needed tons of work since it had not been well-maintained and huge changes needed to be made for use as a coffee shop."
Posadas recruited his girlfriend, Maggie Servais, to style the shop (and cultivate the unique plants that are for sale), and Coloso Coffee opened their doors last month "with the intention to focus on executing great coffee and paying great attention to our customers." They're currently serving Sightglass Coffee and offer batch-brewed drip coffee and espresso drinks.
"The decision to not do pour over was made considering that the majority of customers in the area are office workers on their way to or from work. As it is still very early on in the business, we will do pour over via Chemex in the future for folks who want to hang out for a bit," says Posadas. "We also want to be a part of the neighborhood and plan on opening 7 days a week to give residents of the area who don't get to visit during the week a chance to hang out on weekends. We are also hosting events on the second Saturdays of the month in coordination with other merchants in the area." And for customers who like to nibble on pastries with their coffee, they're offering freshly baked goods from Sandbox Bakery in Bernal Heights.