Just when you thought you knew everything about Verve Coffee Roasters—the shops in San Francisco, L.A., and Tokyo; the sensuous pastry alliance with Manresa Bakers; the impossibly hip vibe; and the outrageously complex coffees, they come up with something new. Bigger, sleeker, foodier. Yes, after a few weeks of closure for renovation, the Verve Coffee Roasters’ 41st Avenue cafe has re-opened and is currently showing off its expanded showcase for food, pastries and righteous caffeine. All on its 10 year anniversary.
“We’ve made better use of the existing layout,” says co-founder Ryan O’Donovan. “Our capacity to serve people has been speeded up, we added a second register, and there’s increased seating inside as well as an expanded area outside.”
In a region of serious coffeehouses, what makes Verve distinctive? “I think we are different than other brands,” O’Donovan admits. “Our coffee sourcing is different, we have a full-time coffee buyer and both Colby and I do buying as well. But mostly we’re more of a lifestyle brand. A local independent brand.”
The wall of playful green “air botanicals,” the beach-hued striped paint decor, all the chic mugs and T-shirts—yes, there is a lot to complete the feeling that you are surrounded by a liveable idea. Partner Colby Barr agrees. “Part of our design aesthetic was to keep a lot of residential feeling. We’re very connected to the Pleasure Point area. All of our references are to a residence, a place you’d want to come and stay, yet with the ability to keep it super clean and neat as well,” says the founder who, with his partner, literally built the very first store at 41st Avenue with his own hands. “We did it all,” he laughs. “We had no budget to hire anyone else! And the relationship with Manresa is unique. We started doing coffee at Manresa back when we first started 10 years ago. When the bread baking started we naturally partnered with them.” Many local pastry fanatics (like me) are grateful for that fix of ornate, flavor-intensive cake, or croissant, or cookie Verve showcases like jewelry at Tiffany’s.
So what’s next? “We want to keep going, and grow the brand responsibly. We’ll continue to do retail in our current markets—Japan is amazing,” Barr adds. “After all, our brand says ‘Made in Santa Cruz.’ We want to keep that local feel.”
Food is new too at the remodeled Pleasure Point location, and the concept is “beyond pastry,” says Barr. “But not beyond our core competency,” he says, with a chuckle. “We won’t be doing artichoke bisque. Just a little more substantial than pastries.”
For my money, the prospect of a prosciutto sandwich with piquillo aioli, manchego and mizuna on Manresa bread is definitely beyond pastry. And so is chai pudding, or avocado toast, or organic poached eggs on a Manresa biscuit. “They make those biscuits exclusively for us,” Barr adds with pride.
Founded and based in Santa Cruz, Verve now has nine cafes and two original founders still right here at the helm. Verve coffees are still roasted here in Santa Cruz. The second register should significantly reduce wait time for that double macchiato. There’s even nitro cold brew on tap. Get on over there and congratulate entrepreneurs Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr. Lucky Pleasure Point!
Verve Coffee Roasters is at 816 41st Ave., Santa Cruz. Open daily 6 a.m.-7 p.m.; foods ‘beyond pastries’ from 7 a.m.-2 p.m.