A batch of coffee beans rotate inside a brass furnace, cafe owner Shawn McMillan checking their color every couple of seconds. Once the beans are fully cooked, McMillan pulls a lever, allowing the beans to stream out. The small room fills with a mixture of gray smoke and steam, and the scent of charred coffee permeates the room.
The main entrance of Connoisseur Coffee, on Middlefield Road in Redwood City, has an overwhelming aroma of syrupy coffee. As early as 7 a.m., customers are already occupying the few parking spots in front of the shop, bustling in and out on their way to work.
Originally based in downtown Palo Alto, the family-run business is operated by Shawn McMillan and has been passed down thorugh the family, from uncle to brother-in-law.
“We opened before there was this huge craze around Starbucks,” McMillan says with a smile. “We’ve been roasting coffee before it became popular.”
A tragic fire ravished the shop years ago and McMillan was left with nothing but his ability to roast coffee. For two years, he kept the spirit of the beans and the coffee shop alive by using other locations’ roasters to roast his special formulas.
“We were closed for over two years, during the rebuilding process,” McMillan says. “Luckily we were able to come back, and we came back quite well.”
Today, the shop is back and bustling. McMillan roasts coffee every day of the week except Sundays. All the fresh coffee beans come from a local Oakland supplier and each batch takes a lengthy 45 minutes to roast. v
Perfect for strong coffee lovers, the drink is less sour than the other blends, but much richer in aroma and consistency. Although all the drinks were brewed the same way, this blend has a distinctly starchier consistency to it which made it seem thicker.
Light Costa Rica Roast
Fruity undertones and a sweetness make this coffee suitable for a casual coffee drinker. The less intense roast is the most acidic of them all and has a citrus taste to it. The fruit flavors mostly taste like a mix of forest berries and add in a delightful kick of sweetness to the drink.
Red Rooibos Herbal Tea
While being similar to a black tea, this type of tea brought its own character to the plate — or to the cup in this instance. The initial tartness was later replaced with a sweetness, which help elevate the drink. This is a tea perfect to accompany a midday snack or breakfast.