Community: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
Like many other communities around the country, there is no shortage of places to enjoy a cup of coffee in Mill Valley. In downtown you’ll find LaCoppa, Peet’s and The Depot cafes. Scattered elsewhere throughout the city, there are drive-thrus, kiosks and the ubiquitous Starbucks. It is here where the community gathers to work, sit back and relax, and connect with each other. A place where moms meet after school drop-off; a place where those who work from home get out of the house and connect with others during the long day; a place where bikers gather to discuss their morning ride on the trails of Mt. Tamalpais.
But, this past weekend, the opening of our community’s latest coffee shop, Equator at Proof Lab, seems to have rejuvenated the idea of community, perhaps even taking it to the next level.
In the weeks leading up to the open, the community watching the progress on development . . . the concrete poured on the front patio, the walls being painted red, the black tiger appearing on its outside walls. I could feel the sense of community rising, as did my friends who exhibited that same sense of excitement about the arrival of someplace where they could gather and enjoy.
What has helped Equator Proof Lab immediately become part of the community is that it is a local company, based in San Rafael just a few miles north of here. This, along with the collaboration with the local surf shop, has helped immediately catapult it into the community hang-out. Proof Lab has established itself as the place the ‘hang’ on the way to and from the beach. It is the place where locals grab their surf gear, where the kids take skateboard and music lessons, and where we shop for our Hurley, Neff, and Quiksilver branded clothes. Not only does it bring a new gathering place for the community, but it reaches out the greater community – those who pass through on the way to the beach.
And now, it is a place where the community (and those passing through) can take their enjoyment of coffee to a whole new level.
The Bay area is well-known for its thirst for great tasting coffee. But here in Mill Valley, what the arrival of Equator will do is to take the community’s enjoyment and knowledge of coffee to a new level. Weekly coffee tastings, knowledgeable baristas, and the welcoming surf-shop atmosphere entice us to stop, linger, taste, and learn.
I’m excited about the new cafe because for the past 20 years I’ve been involved in the specialty coffee community. I’ve written about coffee, where it comes from, how to properly brew it, and even dabbled in a little bit of home roasting. I’ve connected with the specialty coffee community on the road at trade shows and conferences, and on coffee farms. An now, it is alive and well here in in Mill Valley. It’s great to see you here Helen, Brooke, and everyone at Equator.
You may not be close enough to enjoy our new little community gathering spot, but in the spirit of Equator Proof Lab, go out and gather at your local café offering you high quality coffee in a community environment. Connect with family, friends, and the neighbors you’ve only nodded at in passing. Share a cup of coffee, a conversation, and expand your knowledge of all things coffee.