Restaurant News & Reviews

Joebella Café and Dark Nectar: Hot spots for coffee lovers

The baristas at Joebella Café in Atascadero can make you a mocha, latte or espresso with your choice of beans. Read more »
The baristas at Joebella Café in Atascadero can make you a mocha, latte or espresso with your choice of beans. Read more »

Whether you prefer a shot of espresso or a pot of drip, freshly roasted beans are the key to brewing up good coffee. Both of these North County roasters can serve you a great cup and set you up with some beans to brew at home.

Joebella Café and Roasting Works

The home of Joebella Coffee has moved to new grounds. After almost 10 years of having a roasting facility in Atascadero, and concurrently a coffeehouse in Templeton for five years, owners Joseph and Isabel Gerardis finally have both operations under one roof.

“It was always a goal to combine everything,” said Joseph. The newly dubbed Joebella Café and Roasting Works opened at the end of 2012, located on El Camino Real in Atascadero just south of Del Rio Road.

Housed in a former warehouse at the front of an industrial park, the cozy café’s vibe is warm and inviting. A picture window with bar seating offers you an up close view into the roasting room, or you can sit at a couple of other tables inside. If you prefer outdoor seating, sip your java in the dog-friendly area by the front door.

Brewed coffee is always available on a self-serve basis — choose from two roast levels and a decaf — or ask the baristas to pull you a mocha, latte or espresso with your choice of beans. Food items are of the grab-and-go variety, such as breakfast burritos, bagels and house-made pastries.

To create the combo café/roasting house, Joseph used his creativity and skills as a general contractor (specifically as a framing specialist skilled in fine woodworking) to do the majority of the construction. He gutted the existing interior, but “every bit of the demo lumber was repurposed” in the remodel.

Some especially inventive touches include the creative sound baffles hanging from the ceiling, and take note of the wood underneath the bar by the roasting room window; Joe salvaged it from a job site at the Paso Robles house where Jesse James once lived.

The new Joebella digs will also host more events: from open-mike nights to “barista throwdowns” to opportunities for coffee education. The latter might include an overview of the roasting process, hands-on roasting classes, or coffee tastings — known as “cuppings” in the trade.

As for the roasting, Joebella still prides itself on crafting small batches of all-organic and mostly fair trade coffee. A variety of roast levels and countries of origin are always available, and Joe noted that “we can also do custom batches as small as three pounds, especially when customers prefer the lighter roast style that we don’t usually do for our beans.”

Dark Nectar

The idea for the Dark Nectar coffee roasting business began percolating because of a barber shop in downtown Templeton.

“We loved this view across the street of the old Granary,” said owner Danny Jones. After he and his family also opened a salon next door, “we realized that a lot of our clients were winery owners and/or winemakers with great palates, so let’s serve them some great coffee. And if we’re going to do that, let’s roast it ourselves.”

As a result, two years ago the available space attached to the barber shop and salon became the small Euro-style café of Dark Nectar. The roasting is done to order right in the front of the café by Paul Brink. All the batches are 10 pounds or less and are labeled with the roast date.

Jones looks to a buyer in the Bay Area to source beans, concentrating on “recently harvested crops” as opposed to beans that have been stored until price levels become more favorable. As a result, the particular countries of origin change frequently, so patrons are encouraged to look for the nuanced tastes and flavor profiles of each particular coffee, just as they would approach wine tasting.