While I'm still saddened to see my local Diedrich Coffee shops go, in reading all the recent news (e.g. read this) of the Diedrich Coffee buyout by Starbucks, I discovered that Martin Diedrich actually left his namesake business two years ago and has since started over with a whole new enterprise: Kéan coffee. It sounds like he's trying to start fresh with something truer to his ideals, which, seemingly, have gotten lost over the years at the soon-to-close Diedrich Coffee shops. There's only one Kéan Coffee, but it's located in Newport Beach, and in fact it's not very far from where I work!
So today I headed out there at lunch with my friend David to check it out. As soon as we
walked in the door, we were greeted with an amazing aroma of freshly roasted coffee. I
looked around the place--it has a very warm feel to it, nicely decorated but warm and
comfortable. I saw the famous Diedrich coffee roaster in the corner (which, at any
Diedrich's you visit today, is nothing more than decoration, if they even have one). And
then saw a strangely familiar face sitting on a couch. I looked more closely, and
realized it was Martin Diedrich
himself! Yes, it was the same face as on various flyers near the door touting the
establishment. Suddenly I felt starstruck. This is the man who has been fueling my
coffee addiction, err, love for so many years! He was talking business with some guy in a
suit, and I heard business talk and mentions of "Starbucks".
At this point, trying to suppress my growing excitement, I saw the selection of bags of
coffee beans on a table for sale. Interestingly, they were in rather plain, paper
packaging--not the usual, flashy labels and glossy bags. Inspecting them more closely, I
saw hand-written dates on them. A bag of Kona, roasted yesterday (10/4) called out to me.
Wow--I'm brimming with excitement at this point. At any Diedrich's you go in these days,
the bags of coffee on the shelf look like they've been sitting there for months, imported
from who knows what warehouse. These beans were roasted, on the premises, in that coffee
I ordered some brewed coffee, which today was the Diedrich trademark Guatemala Antigua,
and paid for my $18 12oz bag of Kona. David and I sat down to drink, and were talking
about the place, when Martin and his associate began walking around the shop, examining
tables, talking shop, etc. At that point David put me up for the challenge: I needed to
walk up to Martin Diedrich, shake his hand, and say thank you for all these years of great
coffee. It took some persuasion, and one or two tries of getting up, but I finally got
the courage and did just that. He was very nice, unassuming, seemed genuinely happy for
the thanks, and even offered some conversation on how he's at the shop every day, roasts
all the beans himself, and how he was also a big fan of the Kona coffee I held in my hand
("You can be sure it's 100% genuine," he said). I asked him about my favorite coffee, the
seasonal "Brazil" that the Diedrich Coffee houses have carried in the summers the last few
years, and he said that it or something close might be showing up soon. I think he might
have been more surprised by the fact I was a bit nervous talking to him than anything.
I guess this whole thing is a little silly, but if you know me you know I do love my
coffee. I guess we all have our celebrities. What a day. Oh, and the Antigua coffee was
excellent. Really, really great stuff.