SAN FRANCISCO TECH & COFFEE
In this two-part series for Sprudge, I examined the interaction of San Francisco tech companies and coffee companies. The first part, “The Office Coffee Bars Of San Francisco Tech,” takes a look at cafes that have partnered up with tech companies by creating coffee programs and opening up full-fledged cafes inside of other spaces. I interviewed people from both the coffee companies and the tech companies.
Equator’s cafe, while housed inside the LinkedIn building, is actually a privately-owned public space (POPO). San Francisco law dictates that one square foot per 50 square feet of new commercial space be set aside as a public space. The public can mingle in the area, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Because of this POPO designation, there is no pressure for anyone to purchase from Equator.
The biggest difference between their 2271 Union Street location and GitHub’s office, says Cho, is the closed community. Because most people know each other, the baristas are treated more like peers. “The way they engage each other reflects on how they engage with the baristas.”
The second part, “Coffee & Tech In San Francisco: A Barista’s POV,” takes a near-anonymous look at what it’s like to work at the aforementioned tech cafes and/or serving mostly tech-focused employees. Oftentimes, these pieces either give a rose-tinted look or an apocalyptic skewer at tech in San Francisco. No one really talks about the service workers who keep things running behind the scenes.
He recalls a specific conversation he overheard that made him aware of the socioeconomic gap between him and the customers he served. The customers were talking about “buying their way to the front of a line to get, literally, a jet.” He incredulously observes, “Not only were you in line to buy a plane in the first place, but you bought somebody else’s place in line, because you didn’t want to wait.”
All of Hedge’s clients are tech companies, with about 75% of the bookings for event catering. Because the clients pay a flat fee for the service, with pricing based on factors like attendance count and coffee service type there is no point-of-sale transaction. During the few times that Hedge taught coffee education classes, Sobal found that “people were really engaged and asking questions. Like, ‘If it’s a single origin, does it mean it’s from one farm or two farms?’”