Creating A Buzz
Mother/daughter duo raises the coffee bar at Café Virtuoso
Posted on Nov. 14, 2016
Living in a house where every day starts with a fresh pot of coffee, it was impossible not to become a coffee drinker. While not an expert, I’ve developed a taste for what is a decent cup of coffee.
And then I visited Café Virtuoso, south of Petco Park on National Avenue. Co-created by Laurie Britton just over eight years ago, this little roastery and shop has already garnered awards and accolades for its superior coffee. The coffee roasting venture, first run out of Britton’s garage, initially didn’t include a café. Dedicated to high quality even at the earliest stage, Britton’s garage was certified organic. “I’m kind of fanatical. There’s one way to do it, and that’s doing it right,” says Britton.
Following customer demand, a coffee cart was added to the roastery. Then, an actual café was opened, where the public can enjoy Café Virtuoso’s 100 percent certified organic, ethically-sourced coffee on-site. The café boasts some the very few baristas in the county who are Level-1 certified by the Specialty Coffee Association, as well as certified roasters and trainers. Their wholesale business serves everyone from mom-and-pop coffee carts to casinos. The spotless roastery processes 12,000-15,000 pounds of coffee per month, and organic teas make up about ten percent of their business.
I meet Britton and her daughter, Savannah, who presents me with the most amazing cup of coffee I’ve ever experienced — rich and creamy, though without a drop of cream in it. I feel like this is the first time I’ve ever tasted coffee. The Britton women knowingly watch my reaction. Laurie warns, “Once you drink or eat something really good, it’s very difficult to go back.”
The mother-daughter team makes a dynamic duo, complementing each other’s strengths. Laurie is a “big picture” thinker; Savannah is more detail-oriented. Each works to maintain the delicate balance a family business demands. “It’s like any relationship — you have to have good boundaries, and we’ve figured it out,” says Savannah. Their shared passion for Café Virtuoso is a consistent theme. “We’re a lot alike on our expectations and where we want our product to be,” says Laurie.
The pair has created a nonprofit training lab within the café to support their external community, boost coffee knowledge, and provide top-tier barista education year-round. The effort is being led by Savannah, who herself is a certified trainer.
The Brittons’ commitment to their craft is what pushes Café Virtuoso forward. “It’s not only the coffee we choose, it’s how we roast it and how we prepare it — it’s everything,” says Laurie. 619.550.1830, cafevirtuoso.com DEANNA MURPHY