Kean Coffee: Specialty Coffee Pioneers Return to Tustin Roots

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Martin Diedrich and wife Karen have earned respect in the coffee community.

Not many coffee professionals can say they wielded a machete while leading expeditions to unearth Mayan ruins, but that’s exactly the case with Martin Diedrich, who just opened a second branch of Kean Coffee in Tustin with wife Karen.

Diedrich grew up on his family’s coffee farm in the Guatemalan highlands and studied to become an archaeologist at the University of Texas. He was on his way to becoming a real-life Indiana Jones, but his parents needed his support, so he left the jungle to help lead his family’s coffee company. They started Diedrich Coffee in an Orange County garage using his father’s handcrafted roaster. In 1986, Martin opened a retail coffeehouse in Tustin. By December 2004, when he resigned from Diedrich Coffee, the company had grown to be a 200-outlet chain. One year later, Martin and wife Karen resurfaced in Newport Beach, naming their coffeehouse in honor of son Kean. Two weeks ago, in phoenix-like fashion, they opened a second Kean Coffee on the original Tustin site of Diedrich Coffee.

Kean Coffee has a varied drink menu that mimics the Newport original, including specialty beverages and “milk steamers,” but there’s little doubt that the company is grounded in coffee.

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Kean Coffee roasts on-site and stocks green coffee in burlap sacks near the machine.

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The cafe has a similar aesthetic to the Newport original. The Diedrichs once again imported dazzling hand-painted glass lamps and chandeliers from Fortuny, in Venice, Italy.

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Kean baristas pulled some very good espresso shots, with subtly sweet body and no bitter aftertaste. Martin revealed he blends Brazilian Camocim – possibly the only biodynamic coffee on the planet – with Brazilian Poco Fundo, Sumatra Tawar and Ethiopia Sidamo.

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My cappuccino was hotter than necessary, and the latte art was obliterated, which surprised me considering they hang photos of latte art on Kean’s Newport Beach walls. Still, the flavor was balanced, and milk brought out some added sweetness in the espresso.

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Karen and Martin Diedrich posed in front of their roaster, which his brother Steve built in Idaho.

While Kean Coffee isn’t a genre-busting company like Intelligentsia, which is propelling the industry to new heights, Kean is still producing better coffee than most Southern California coffeehouses.

During our visit, the café was crowded. The Diedrichs said they’ve been seeing a lot of the same people that used to frequent Diedrich Coffee. Those customers fled when the storefront housed a short-lived Starbucks, but Kean has given them good reason to return.


Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

LOVE Kean!!!!! The Grasshopper, mmmmmmm!

While visiting my son this past weekend, he took me to Kean’s. Wow! Amazing coffee. Delicious, no bitterness, smooth-tasting. I can’t wait until my next visit. Next time I’ll bring back some beans to brew at home in Arizona.


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