11th Hour Coffee
Food & Drink

11th Hour Coffee’s Search for Meaning

Co-owner Brayden Estby on inspiration and how he named his café

Brayden (left) and Joel Estby, the brains behind 11th Hour Coffee, want to foster a welcoming environment. PHOTO: JACOB PIERCE

The ingredients that 11th Hour Coffee throws into its avocado toast would put the offerings from any Brooklyn café to shame.

At 11th Hour, employees serve up their special version complete with watermelon radish, garlic-infused olive oil, nutritional yeast balsamic glaze, and a little salt. Brothers Brayden and Joel Estby, co-owners of the newly opened coffee house, plan to celebrate the joint’s official grand opening on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

I’ll mention here that I’d forgotten about this assignment until dangerously close to GT’s deadline, which gave his café’s name a special meaning. Luckily, Brayden was available on short notice.

Love the name 11th Hour. How did you come up with it?

BRAYDEN ESTBY: I was reading a spiritual book, and it was talking about the 11th hour, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my coffee idea. I was just starting to roast. This was about four and a half years ago. For me, the 11th hour was representing the present moment. The 11th hour is the moment you pull out whatever reason, whatever “why” you need to get up in the morning, to get excited about something. That’s the 11th hour.

What are your core values here?

Our values internally are all based around communication. One is personal growth work—so people quit jobs often, especially at coffee shops, but it’s usually that they’re quitting their employer or the environment more than anything. As an employer, we want to create a space for our employees where it’s invigorating and captivating and they feel like they’re growing as a person. Customer service is the most important thing. People have preconceptions before they even sip a cup, so feeling comfortable, invited and welcome is a core value. Our overall mission as a company is to spread awareness and expression, so come as you are. Express who you are, how you want to express it. And raise your awareness as a human. Higher consciousness through higher-quality coffee.

One of the things we want to promote with our coffee is mindfulness of consumption. We don’t serve in 16-ounce cups or 32-ounce cups. Twelve ounces is our largest. We promote being mindful of what you’re consuming and how you’re consuming it.

Is the medium one a “tall?”

No [laughs], none of our drinks actually have a large or a small. Every drink is descriptive of what the size is. So a latte’s a certain size—cappuccino, macchiato, espresso.  

Wait, there’s only one size for coffee?

That’s the one thing where there is a small and a large.

Are the bar and tables handmade?

Everything in the entire café is built by me and my brother. Every table, every piece of wood. The bar, the espresso machine. The only thing that isn’t is the heavy equipment, like the grinders and the brewers. It’s very DIY.

11th Hour Coffee. 1001 Center St. #1, Santa Cruz. eleventhhourcoffee.com. [email protected]

News Editor at |

Jacob, the news editor at Good Times, won the 2014 award for best local government coverage from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. A longtime basketball and football fanatic, Jacob has evolved into a shameless fair weather fan and band wagoner for hot West Coast sports teams. He also enjoys arguing with others about where to find the best burrito in town.

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