Bay Area/ Oakland/ Food & Drinks
Published on April 15, 2021
Red Bay Coffee officially opens its modern public roastery and headquarters in East Oakland Photo: Courtesy of Keba Konte, owner of Red Bay Coffee

Red Bay Coffee — the eco-conscious Oakland coffee roaster that will open a cafe inside the Ferry Building later this month — unveiled its new public roastery and headquarters this week at 3136 International Boulevard in Oakland. And it’s every bit as gorgeous as you can possibly imagine.

Founded Keba Konte in 2014, Red Bay Coffee has now amassed a cult-like following. (The company’s charcoal vanilla latte have since become regional Instagram darlings with local foodies.) Though Red Bay Coffee began as a fever dream inside Konte’s garage seven years ago, the roaster’s newest public roastery — which also houses the company’s headquarters, located on the location’s second floors — is anything but dreary. Frankly, the new space couldn't be further from Red Bay Coffee’s garage beginnings.

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Walking up to the lofty three-story Central National Bank building (that now features 11,000 square feet of usable commercial space), patrons are greeted by Red Bay Coffee’s familiar mantra: Beautiful coffee to the people. (One of the company’s main missions is to support Black-owned creators, businesses, and coffee suppliers… and remind people that coffee is “Africa’s gift to the world.") The collection of cleverly worded sidewalk signage only confirms the fact that sublime coffee is, in fact, just around the corner… or right in front of you.

Stepping inside the East Oakland neighborhood building — which was originally erected as the aforementioned bank in the 1920s, then later turning into a check-cashing business, before finally becoming a dollar store before Red Bay Coffee took ownership — all the millennial cafe troops are present. The space is naturally lit by towering windows that spill sunlight onto the unfussy walls and wood decor; ornate white light fixtures dangle from the two-story-high ceiling; a smattering of tall indoor plants dot the corners of the seating area, while lush vines dangle from the office railing above; the baristas are as warmly effusive as they are incredibly knowledgeable. 

Black bags of coffee beans sit on the far-facing back wall by the touchless register. Artisanal scones, croissants, and other baked goods entice buyers from glass displays; cold bottle beverages sit in a refrigerator beneath them. Easily accessible outlets line the entire lobby; jazz music bounces off the low-slung black chairs and cubed coffee tables.

The roastery and cafe, too, is an exercise in environmentalism — a fundamental principle of Red Bay Coffee’s business model. Flush-free urinals are included in each of the two all-gender bathrooms available to customers, and LED lights are used throughout the coffee shop-office hybrid. Attentive eyes will also note the 100% recycled disposable drinkware, composting trash receptacles, and the reclaimed wood accents used throughout the massive location.

Then there’s the coffee, itself. 

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Patrons ordering at the new location can order from the usual offerings, including the charcoal vanilla latte, found at other Red Bay Coffee outposts. High-quality brews from the roaster that locals are accustomed to are accounted for at its new 3136 International Boulevard address. Though fresh pastries and a few refrigerator items exist as the only food options at the moment, Red Bay Coffee will soon offer African hand pies — uncommon decadences in the Bay Area — in addition to other morsels.

While the second floor of the building is dedicated to Red Bay Coffee’s business doings, it remains unclear what the 4,000 square feet that make up the public roastery’s third floor will become. But for now, customers can freely bask in the glow emanating from the hung windows while nursing your coffee of choice — at what’s arguably one of the most modern, jaw-dropping Oakland coffee shops that has opened in recent memory.

// Red Bay Coffees’ public roastery is currently open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 3136 International Boulevard in Oakland, seven days a week; click here to see the company’s COVID-19 safety policies and protocols for guests; curbside pick up is also available for customers.