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Bad Fish Coffee - More Than a Cup of Coffee

What makes Bad Fish Coffee and Tea situated in front of Brahma Bar and Grill in the north end of the Village unique?

Bad Fish is the name of a reggae song from the 90s from a genre that suggests it’s time to do life differently. People who grew up in the 90s will find it familiar. The theme of not subscribing to the norms that frequently get pushed on people appealed to Pearl and Mark Eister and influences their approach.

Pearl and Mark grew up in Orangevale and opened their first store there after college because there was no community place for friends or business associates to meet in Orangevale. Their goal of providing a neighborhood gathering place that serves excellent coffee and tea led to opening a second shop in Fair Oaks Village.

What do you serve in addition to coffee, espresso drinks, and tea?

Bad Fish serves smoothies and small plates. Avocado toast is their most popular menu item, along with breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and snack foods. They also offer delectable pastries. Bad Fish also offers vegan, gluten-free, and keto options so anyone can find something to eat when they join friends. They also serve milk alternatives: almond milk, hemp milk, macadamia milk, and oat milk.

What would you like people to know?

Having worked for other coffee shops and managed other shops, Pearl and Mark wanted to make Bad Fish a coffee-first priority. They don’t cut corners when it comes to sourcing their beans. They are so determined to give their customers an excellent coffee tasting experience that if a beverage isn’t brewed within their established specific parameters, they don’t serve it. Their baristas throw away 10 - 15 shots of espresso a day because if it doesn’t follow their precise formula of time and water, it’s not going to taste good.

Bad Fish extracts shots using scales to weigh the finished product. Espresso usually takes 20 sec to prepare a shot. If the grind size is correct, the shot will weigh 23 grams in a certain amount of time. The Bad Fish coffee roaster determined that when a shot takes 24-28 seconds to prepare and weighs 24 to 26 grams, it’s going to taste good. Most coffee shops don’t weigh their shots. Employees in training intentionally taste shots out of specification to learn what they taste like. They don’t want to serve espresso that tastes sour or bitter on the sides of the tongue or, if it’s over-extracted (too long of a shot), tastes burnt. Expert coffee tasters use a flavor wheel similar to those used with wine to describe nuances of coffee qualities. Mark says before they did their first certification in coffee tasting, he didn’t think he could taste the nuances in coffee (strawberry, chocolate, etc., flavors there) until he took a class to learn what to look for.

What is certification? (a college for coffee) certification goal is to bring standards to coffee worldwide. While international preferences may vary, this gives everyone a standard to judge each variety. One of their baristas came from a wine background and is working towards certification. He’ll eventually be a trainer and offer certifications from SCA for all of their coffee.

How does your business model support your business ethic?

Pearl and Mark met in 2013 when Mark first started working in coffee. They both managed a shop and found they enjoyed working together. One of the first lessons they learned was that businesses often fail when owners can’t let go and give up some control. Bad Fish puts people in different roles depending on what responsibilities they’ve been good at and empowers them. Employees who want to grow learn skills like managing, training, or retail marketing. Employees are an essential piece of Bad Fish’s success. If employees are happy and have a good work-life balance, it shows in their work. Because Pearl and Mark don’t have the corporate red tape of a big business or absentee owner to go through, they can provide an environment where employees are valued.

What to look forward to?

The décor in both locations changes as Pearl and Mark add to their collection gleaned from family and friends. The counter in their Orangevale store came from Mark’s father’s property, and the counter in the Fair Oaks Village location came from a friend’s property. You’ll see more decor pop up at these locations. Also, watch for their grand opening in the Village after the first of the year.

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