For ten years Jeff Clinard, now owner of Bear Coast Coffee in San Clemente, C.A. was a comedian, mainly doing improv in Los Angeles.
"Whenever you do comedy, you have a goal of making other people laugh," he says. "You are always trying to gain approval. It's less about community."
For a long time Jeff had a dream to get involved with the coffee industry. He put it off for a while figuring that maybe it's just a dream and it was something he just didn't have the time for.
But his wife objected. She stated that you didn't need a degree for coffee. Why not start now?
And like every other dream made into reality, Jeff took that first step and then the coffee world unfolded before him in ways I don't think he even sought imaginable.
Pete's Coffee would be his first experience. He instantly loved it and knew he wanted to do more. He then work for Jeff and Crystal at Portola Coffee Lab to help gain exposure for the brand. He was also a part time barista and manager. But he yearned for something of his own.
He found the Wine and Cheese shop and offered two approach just two things: their water and coffee.
"It was just me [working the coffee bar] and it was was exhausting," he says. "But it was so much more fun to finally get to know this city."
And he was finally able to create something his stand-up career couldn't provide.
"The main thing this city was missing was the concept of inclusion - the opposite of stand up comedy is what I wanted to do," he says.
His concept of the Behind-the-Bar espresso classes is anther solution to directly impact the community.
And on any given business day, you can rest-assure you will be taken care of. He even made it a point to limit coffee brewing methods to simplify the serving process. There's no pour over stations here and the menu could be a little brother to IN N OUT's simple, successful menu.
"I wanted the process to be as simple as possible so the interaction was possible between customers," he says.
The menu, while simple, can offer some seasonal items. I'd say my readers split into three; there are the coffee snobs and scoff at a pumpkin latte and others that don't mind and then others who must have a pumpkin latte until their hearts of explode of pumpkin. Anyway, when asked about how do you balance preserving the simplicty of coffee but catering to the masses on more flavored drinks, he replies earnestly,
"It's like your daughter says, 'I want a pink cake!' And the thing is, I will make one, it's just going to be the best damn pink cake there was."
He stands by his mission of delivering the best ingredients, because if you are going to do a pumpkin latte, you are going to do it right.
When I ask him what his happiest memory with coffee he instantly thinks of people, his people.
"There was a couple that was coming here for a long time. One time they were really dressed up and I later learned he was on his way to purpose to her. She insisted to stop by Bear Coast Coffee before their 'date,'" he pauses. "Bear Coast got be a part of that experience and that enamored me."
He then added that it is pretty cool to see strangers driving with the Bear Coast Coffee logo sticker on the back of cars. He just smiles at himself and at how unreal things seem to be these days.
He has realized his dream, has a second location in the works and a second baby on the way.
Personally, I credit his success to his focus on people, a focus and passion that I hope will never change.
"Coffee is the vessel to provide an experience. If coffee didn’t exist tomorrow, we’d all be okay, but if we didn’t have these human interactions we wouldn’t be."
The Coffee Nomad