There’s a new coffee shop in Yucaipa – Hearthwood Coffee Roasters. Kevin Lentz, owner and roaster, has been hailed by a local food critic as “the best coffee roaster within a 30-mile radius.” Lentz got his barista training working for several years at Queen Bean Caffe, also in Yucaipa. He then decided to become a coffee roaster. He honed his roasting skills under the tutelage of roasters at Augie’s Coffee in Redlands.
Lentz purchases “fairly traded” coffee beans, mostly from South America. Since different bean varietals are harvested at different times, and Lentz only uses fresh beans, the coffees he serves are seasonal. Customers have the opportunity to try several different coffees throughout the year.
Hearthwood coffee is offered at Chai Coffee Company in Yucaipa and has been served at many local events this past year – the Herbivore Festival at Crafton Hills College, Augie’s 10th anniversary party, and as a “pop-up” at Suveg Cellars wine tasting room in Yucaipa.
About two years ago, the storefront next to the roastery became available, so Lentz decided to open his own coffee and sandwich shop. He designed the interior of the shop and did most of the construction himself, including the tables, counter, seating, and tasting bar. Check out the herb and succulent garden he created in the center of the tasting bar.
Unlike many coffee roasters, Lentz roasts each small batch himself. He doesn’t use computerized settings. During the roasting, Lentz checks the beans frequently, culling imperfectly roasted beans, thus assuring even roasting. When the roasting is complete, he re-checks the beans, discarding any that don’t meet his high standards. Roasting small batches daily means customers are ensured of the most flavorful cups of coffee.
While working at Queen Bean Caffe, Lentz developed an appreciation for locally grown and made products. He purchases produce from venders at the local farmers’ markets and tea from Summit Tea in Redlands. The bread and pastries served at Hearthwood are supplied by Village Bread in Calimesa, Old Town Baking Company, and Bricks and Birch in Redlands.
Lentz proffers seasonal specials. This summer’s specials are muddled teas. To muddle means to press fresh ingredients such as herbs and fruit against the side of the glass with a special muddler stick, similar to a pestle. In the near future, patrons will be able to pick the herbs for their muddled tea from the aforementioned herb and succulent garden.
Art created by local artists is displayed, with new artists showcased monthly. Photography and ceramics are this month’s features.
Lentz is ready and willing to share his brewing knowledge with interested customers. He’ll demonstrate different home brew equipment – French press, Aeropress and pour over – but not Keurig. He’ll discuss how much ground coffee, at what temperature, and how much time needed to brew the type of coffee each individual enjoys. He’ll also explain how to make espresso at home. The equipment needed is surprisingly inexpensive and can be purchased at many local shops and on-line.
Lentz believes every person should have great coffee, tea, breads, and pastry.
Hearthwood Coffee is located at 32387 Yucaipa Blvd. Ste A, Yucaipa.
It’s open Monday through Saturday from 7a.m. – 5 p.m.