Interview: Saint Frank Coffee founder Kevin Bohlin

Coffee San Francisco


Who else in the specialty coffee community do you look to for inspiration, guidance or advice?

Steve Ford, green buyer at Ritual, took me to origin for the first time and is a major influence for me in coffee; my friend Ryan Brown was also on that trip and continues to be a major influence. I worked with Ben Kaminsky at Ritual as well, and his drive for progress and quality in coffee is incredible. My friend Charles Babinski in L.A. is also an incredible influence for me when it comes to retail and service, I have a lot of respect for Charles. Also, Benjamin Paz of Beneficio San Vicente in Honduras, that guy is one of a kind and very special to me in the world of coffee. So I guess there are a lot, I could go on…

What’s your favorite aspect of working in the coffee world?

The people. I love the people and the culture, for me that’s what makes it special.

Is it easier or harder to accomplish your goals with so many other specialty roasters?

Definitely easier. I love the community and see this as a collaborative effort to transform how people view and experience coffee. We need more roasters and retailers to grow our part of the coffee market.

Where do you see the Bay Area coffee scene in five years, and how does Saint Frank fit into that vision?

I hope that the retail side continues to grow and diversify where neighborhoods get regular and real connections to special and specific coffees. It’s hard to say but I wonder if the focus will shift away from Roasting Brands and more to the diversity of experience at the retail and personal level. We see so many coffee shops choosing the multi-roaster model these days rather than having an exclusive roaster relationship that banks on brand power. Baristas are growing up and branching out, not sure what that means for roaster branding but I see more coffee/farm focus and less brand focus. I would like to say in five years Saint Frank is opening other retail locations bringing relationally sourced coffees to more people in new neighborhoods. Perhaps my vision for the Bay Area is want I want it to be because that’s what I’m trying to do, not for me or Saint Frank but for San Francisco.

What’s a typical coffee consumption day for you, drink by drink, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep?

I used to always start the day with a cappuccino followed by a filter coffee. That still holds true but I often stick to a morning filter coffee with two to three espresso sprinkling throughout the day. I still do more tasting than I do drinking.

If you brew coffee at home, what’s your preferred brewing method, and why?

I brew with V60 if I have filters and Aeropress when I don’t as a back up. I love clean and clear coffee, pure and simple. Both methods are easy to brew and easy to clean up.

If you could only have one more shot of espresso, who would make it for you?

Charles Babinski because he’s an incredible barista, the full package. If I get one more espresso I don’t want to just drink it, I want a coffee experience, Charles will deliver.

Address: 2340 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

Interview: Saint Frank Coffee founder Kevin Bohlin


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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