For Pablo Moran, starting a coffee shop in the diverse, vibrant Excelsior neighborhood was a dream worth pursuing.
After spending two years redesigning the inside of a previously vacant building and preparing his new shop, Moran opened Double Shot Coffee on Jan. 27 at 4587 Mission St.
“I always wanted to open a coffee shop,” said Moran, 41, an experienced restaurateur.
Just two weeks after opening, Moran’s shop has already become a welcomed presence in the neighborhood, which has been afflicted with empty storefronts as small businesses have struggled to survive.
“Double Shot is a fabulous addition. It’s a ray of hope—a ray of sunshine,” said John Ostuni, a two-year Excelsior resident.
The new shop is located between Brazil and Excelsior streets — just two blocks away from the vacant building that was previously Mamá Art Cafe, which closed last year after serving the community as an artistic, cultural and social hub for 13 years.
“We have a lot of good food places. What we need is a coffee shop with good service,” said Leticia Casanova, a 25-year Excelsior resident and co-owner of the neighboring Redwood Beauty Supply.
Double Shot Coffee’s inner walls are painted Cornell red, and five main tables are given adequate viewing room from an unblocked wall displaying a giant 11- by 19-foot grayscale mural. It features a genie of the late Jerry Garcia, the legendary lead guitarist and a vocalist of the band the Grateful Dead, and a native to the Excelsior.
“This whole thing is kind of an illusion,” said Francisco Franco, the mural’s artist. “The Grateful Dead motif lets you know that what you’re looking at isn’t reality. It is, but it isn’t. So it captures the psychedelic aspect of San Francisco as well.”
In the mural, Garcia rises from a giant coffee mug atop a mound of coffee beans spilling from a bag beneath two San Francisco street signs labeled “Excelsior” and “District.” A Muni bus destined for “14 Double Shot” passes by, and pigeons flutter throughout the painting. Iconic San Francisco neighborhoods and buildings span the background.
“I wanted to have something about the Excelsior, something about San Francisco and something about coffee,” Moran said.
Moran and his father founded the corporation El Tomate Inc., which owns three restaurants in and around San Francisco’s Mission District — La Espiga de Oro, El Tomate Restaurante and El Pedritos.
It was at El Tomate Restaurante that Moran met Maria Palacios, now 24, who would become his manager and employee for the next five years.
Moran developed Double Shot Coffee’s menu with Palacios’ guidance, and since the day they opened, Palacios has run the coffee shop as its only manager.
“We checked out different coffee shops in South City and the City, so we kind of combined everything to form a new menu,” Palacios said. “We can ask people what they want and what they like. People are asking for Cuban coffee, and we’re definitely working on that.”
Double Shot buys most of their beans from Contraband Coffee, a San Francisco-based roaster, and offers a different roast on a daily basis.
They currently switch between Columbian, Guatemalan, Ethiopian and Perfect Alibi coffee beans — all medium roasts. They also offer Black Market Blend — a dark roast. Palacios said they plan to serve a light roast in the near future.
“My favorite drink here is definitely the lavender latte,” Palacios said. “I like the taste, and we put the actual lavender on top so it gives a different oomph to the drink.”
Her personal recommendations for new customers are the horchata and Nutella lattes as well as their Mexican hot chocolate, which uses Abuelita powder — a staple in the Mexican chocolate market for more than 78 years — rather than powdered chocolate and cinnamon like many coffee shops use.
In addition to drinks, Double Shot Coffee offers a variety of homemade sandwiches, salads and bagels, and pastries from local bakeries, including Bakers of Paris and Ultimate Cookie.
“They are very nice people,” Casanova said. “They have good service, good people and good coffee. I hope they do well.”
Double Shot Coffee is located at 4587 Mission St.
This article first appeared in the Ingleside-Excelsior Light’s March print edition.