Most people don’t consider becoming a certified sommelier a prerequisite to opening a coffee shop.
But that’s exactly what Ariana Akbar did before she opened Hearth Coffee Roasters in the Castro with her husband, James Kafader; the couple previously owned Brown Owl Coffee on Taraval.
Instead of creating a wine-focused cafe, Akbar wanted to use her training to pair the organic single-origin coffees she and Kafader roast in house with bites prepared by pastry chef Megan Bovis. “I wanted to see how they teach wine pairing with food and how the same discussion might work with coffee,” says Akbar.
When Hearth opened last fall, the couple were roasting an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with blueberry and chocolate notes, so Bovis baked blueberry chocolate ganache brownie bites to offer with it. “We wanted to see how the unique origin of the coffee could be paired with food,” says Akbar.