by Tom Sims
I was taking a walk, contemplating the meaning of something I have since forgotten, when I came upon a new establishment. It was a coffee shop, just off Fulton across from the Fulton Mall. The sign on the door said, Fulton Street Coffee Roasters, which seemed appropriate, and something about the place invited me in.
Speaking of meaning and mystery, consider this: Somewhere in time, someone invented coffee. There is a story to that. I don’t mean the bean. God and nature did that. I mean the drink. Then, man invented coffee bars, and the world turned around right.
Consider these profound observations:
“Coffee is a language in itself.” – Jackie Chan
“I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake.” – Lewis Black
“Never trust anyone who doesn’t drink coffee.” – AJ Lee
“We want to do a lot of stuff; we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.” – Jerry Seinfeld
“If it wasn’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.” – David Letterman
Then, there is the all-purpose observation of our greatest president:
“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” – Abraham Lincoln
I do not know if the folks at Fulton Street Coffee Roasters have considered all of these implications, but they are a part of something bigger than themselves. For one thing, they are part of a renaissance of downtown Fresno and Fulton Mall. The more businesses and gathering places open that reflect the community, the more alive downtown becomes. Fulton Street Coffee Roasters is building upon and encouraging that sense of community as they participate in promoting the arts and in hosting local musicians, special interest classes, and local products.
Another bigger picture in which they fit is the long history of coffee. According to The National Coffee Association the coffee bean was first discovered in Ethiopia. “The story goes that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.” By the seventeenth century, coffee had made its way to Europe. After that, there was no stopping its spread.
Still another dimension is our growing understanding of coffee’s health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic: “Studies have shown that coffee may have health benefits, including protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease, including liver cancer. Coffee also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression. …So, how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk.”
I am a coffee hunter and a coffee consumer. The only thing related to coffee that I like almost as much as the drink is the setting where I drink it. I love the culture, atmosphere, smell, and conversations in a great coffee bar. In this setting, I had a relaxing moment, sipped a great cup of coffee, and heard a couple of captivating stories.
I was intrigued to discover Fulton Street Coffee Roasters next door to what had been Raizana Tea. I love tea, too. Sol and Pablo Orazco built a great culture around the health benefits of tea and elevated sipping in Fresno to a higher level. I did not realize they had moved away to Northern Virginia. That happened about a year ago. That is when Omar Octavio Vargas and his partners answered the call to purchase Raizana and create Fulton Street Coffee Roasters, expanding the footprint of the tea shop and “factory” and the reach of the business.
Omar had been trained in the fine arts of coffee by local coffee legend, Leo Rios of Café Corazon. In January, Carlos Contreras and Omar opened the new place and began telling coffee stories. Located on Tuolumne and Fulton, Fulton Street Coffee Roasters, as the name implies, roasts its own beans and serves up a variety of coffee drinks, teas, and food items. There is more space for sitting and sipping in the remodeled “third place.” There are also friendly baristas ready to tell their story or just to chat.
If one visits the roaster’s website, one can order teas and coffee beans, but there is much more. There is something that points to another dimension of the bigger picture of coffee, the stories of the coffee growers. There is the story of Alejandra Martinez’ great grandmother dating back to the nineteenth century in Vera Cruz. You can learn about Luiz Paulo and his philosophy of land stewardship as well as the bonus system he has implemented for his workers.
While at the coffee shop you can sit inside or outside. You can also view the work of local artists and photographers. As a music venue, Music Venue, Fulton Street Coffee has recently, hosted Jeremy Hofer and a Songwriter’s Café.
I might add that the coffee is sophisticated and delicious, the chairs are comfortable, and the conversation is engaging. Somewhere in time, someone discovered coffee, someone else invented coffee bars, and thank goodness, some folks brought Fulton Street Coffee Roasters to Fresno.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “Coffee, the favorite drink of the civilized world.”
Fulton Street Coffee Roasters
Address: 2011 Tuolumne St, Fresno, CA 93721
Monday thru Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Phone: (559) 492-7373