Amoeblog

The Town Pt VI: Oakland's Cole Coffee, Where Conversation is Celebrated & Music is Appreciated

Posted by Billyjam, February 9, 2011 11:11am | Post a Comment

Long before Oakland (aka "The Town") was a hipster destination teeming with endless cafes offering good quality coffee, there was the North Oakland coffee spot known as Royal Coffee, and in more recent years known as Cole Coffee. In 1987, Royal Coffee, which morphed into Cole Coffee in 2005, first opened on 63rd Street near College Avenue in North Oakland near the Berkeley border. Offering strong, quality, affordable coffee with no pretensions and located just half a block down from La Farine bakery, it immediately built a loyal following. Even the recent era influx of new Oakland cafes similarly offering choices of quality coffees and teas has not affected the College & 63rd Street business one bit. This is because Cole, nee Royal, is as much of a social gathering point as it is a place to buy a good cuppa joe.

When Cole Coffee's owner Michael Murphy purchased the business from Royal Coffee six years ago,  changing the name to Cole Coffee at the time, he was already quite familiar with the business and its loyal clientele. "I managed Royal Coffee from 1992 until I puchased the business in 2005," he told me. He recalled how back when he started managing the business that, "Royal only had the 63rd Street location and then opened the cafe in 1995." Cole Coffee is one business split into two locations that are side by side. At the front cafe part (corner of 63rd & College) you can sit down inside or outside and specialty coffees are custom made on drip in front of you. Then the Cole Coffee shop round the corner down a bit on 63rd (with an apartment door entrance separating the two) is where you can buy coffee by the pound to go and cups of the reliably strong roasted and tasty house coffee. About a dozen small round green cafe tables line the outside on 63rd and snake up around onto College.

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The Town Part V: Beer Revolution, the Punk Rock Beer Bar, Has Fast Become Oakland's Premiere Beer Tasting Room

Posted by Billyjam, November 7, 2010 12:46pm | Post a Comment

Oakland's Beer Revolution, located at 435 3rd Street @ Broadway down by Jack London Square, is all about beer, boasting a mind boggling choice of over 500 different brews, mostly bottled but also on tap.

But Beer Revolution, which is owned and operated by the lifelong punk rock husband & wife team of Fraggle (born Mark Martone) and Rebecca Boyles, is also all about celebrating music -- namely punk rock with an emphasis on 80's punk (especially West Coast punk), all of which acts as the perfect soundtrack to this one-of-a-kind beer tasting emporium.

"Music is very important to us and it's been a predominant part of both my husband's and my life forever, really," Rebecca told me. "I've been very much involved in the punk rock scene for pretty much my whole life and so has Fraggle. It's a part of our lives so we made it a part of our business too." Fraggle, whose passionate punk past includes putting in years as one of the crew of volunteers at 924 Gilman Street Project, confided to me, "It was at an MDC show that myself and Rebecca met."

Not surprisingly then, the legendary Austin, TX formed / SF based punk band MDC (Millions of Dead Cops) is a regular on the Beer Revolution's playlist. Other artists that you'll likely hear being blasted from the in-house sound system include Minor Threat, Fear, 7 Seconds, Operation Ivy (Fraggle was once roommates with the band's Tim Armstrong), GBH, Stiff Little Fingers, The Adolescents, D.I., Social Distortion, and La Plebe (one of the newer punk acts that Fraggle is into).

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The Town Part III: Remedy Coffee, Oakland and Proud

Posted by Billyjam, August 3, 2010 02:11pm | Post a Comment
Remedy Coffee, Oakland, CA
It may not even have been open a full two months yet but already Oakland's Remedy Coffee at 4316 Telegraph Avenue (between 43rd St & 44th St) in the ever evolving Temescal district has the warm & comfortable feel of a local cafe that has been there a lot longer than just seven weeks. The friendly and attentive Todd Spitzer is the owner of Remedy and I instantly knew I liked the guy and his new business when I first went in and saw him proudly sporting a T-shirt that read Live in Oakland. Love in Oakland. Love Oakland, and, between preparing individual servings of fresh coffee, he was changing the record on the turntable (yes, a vinyl player!) behind the counter.

That was about four weeks ago and in the short time since, business has quadrupled for Remedy -- and for good reason. It's a welcoming, very spacious, well lit environment with a variety of seating options (high stool counter, sofa level, & standard cafe table inside and out), excellent coffee (they specialize in light coffee), free Wi-Fi (unblocked under Remedy Hearts You), great music selection and nice bass-y speakers well positioned up high, excellent art on the wall (artist Cathy Lo currently), plus numerous cool curiosities such as a Pacific Bell phone booth right when you walk in the main door. The back patio is still to open, but it will soon. The clientele (many of whom arrive by bike) is a nice wide mix of people from The Town: musicians, DJs, artists, students, blue collar workers, OPD, young, old, straight and, gay. It's open Monday to Friday 7am to 6pm and weekends 8:30am to 6pm.

Before opening Remedy, which is right next door to Flying Yoga, round the corner from a cluster of Korean restaurants known to many as Little Korea, and down a block from Rent-A-Relic, Todd had a coffee cart set up right outside. With help from friends, he slowly but surely over a period of year worked on getting his business off the ground. He carefully crafted the interior of Remedy, which is modern without being cold or alienating. I recently caught up with Todd to ask him about going from cart to cafe, light roasted versus dark roasted., Oakland as a place to live & work, the meaning of the Remedy logo, and, of course, music -- inviting him and his staff to submit their all time Top Five Albums lists. The staffer descriptions are all Todd's.

Beirut
Taylor King (Almost lead barista and art curator) Top Five:

1) Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick

The Town Part II: Interview with Oakland's Bikes 4 Life's Founder Tony Coleman

Posted by Billyjam, July 24, 2010 02:55pm | Post a Comment
Bikes 4 Life 3rd Annual Peace Ride - July 24th 2010

Oakland's unique Bikes 4 Life, which later today presents its 3rd Annual Bike Ride for Peace & Bike-In Movie Night with a free screening of The Warriors, is yet another thing about The Town (aka Oakland) that helps make this long slept-on East Bay neighbor of San Francisco such a wonderfully unique & special place to live or visit. And the goal of the Amoeblog's The Town series is to focus on many of the Bikes 4 Lifefine Oakland organizations and businesses (for profit & non-profit) that have either been around for a few years such as Bikes 4 Life, or for a good many years such as Rent-A-Relic, or else ones have only just cropped up in the past several months such as Beer Revolution and The Layover (both to be Amoeblogged about here in the upcoming weeks).

Earlier today I caught up with Tony Coleman, who is the founder and executive director of this Oakland bicycle based organization -- someone who I originally met through hip-hop several years ago and who has always been a really cool, positive person-- one with his community always first in his mind. The interview with Tony follows and includes the specifics on this evening's bike ride and movie screening.

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The Town: Part I: Rent-A-Relic in the Temescal District of Oakland

Posted by Billyjam, May 5, 2010 03:45pm | Post a Comment
Amoeblog interview with Rich Craig + Todd Connors of North Oakland's Rent-A-Relic

This is the first in a new Amoeblog series focusing on businesses and organizations in The Town (aka Oakland, CA) including many small, independently run & operated local businesses that are neighbors of the Amoeba Berkeley store, from steps away and up to a one or two, or three mile radius. Kick-starting this new series is the successful North Oakland car rental company Rent-A-Relic. Located on Telegraph at 45th in the Temescal District, Rent-A-Relic has seen their surrounding neighborhood undergo much development since they opened shop back in 1993, with countless other small independently operated businesses (including lots of restaurants) opening up along Telegraph Avenue. Rent-A-Relic, which also offers notary services, is run by Rich, Todd, and Spencer, and anytime you stop into their small offices, odds are that you will hear good music, from Miles Davis to the Minutemen, playing in the background. I caught up with Rich to interview him about operating a business like Rent-A-Relic and about music and radio, among other things. He supplied his Top 5, while Todd supplied his Top 25 -- all below.


Rent-A-Relic Rich's All Time Top Five Albums:

Meat Puppets Huevos
1) Meat Puppets
Huevos


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