We catch up with owners Justin and Diana – over a coffee of course

Brunch in the ‘burbs? Yes please. Confidentials headed out on the tram to find out why California Coffee & Wine is Altrincham’s American dream. It’s partly down to the owners Justin and Diana who just radiate good vibes (but not in an annoying way) and partly down to, well, we’ll find out over a chinwag and a cheesy steak bro-ito…

California? Altrincham? It seems an odd juxtaposition. How did you end up in Altrincham?

California Coffee and Wine was in the planning stages for many years before we opened in November 2018. We thought Altrincham would be the perfect place for the cafe after a good friend, who lived and worked locally at the time, gave us the head's up about the area. When we checked out the town, everything fell into place perfectly and we decided Altrincham would be the best home for California Coffee!

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Can you tell us more about the idea behind California Coffee & Wine? Where did you get your inspiration from?

We have both worked in the retail and hospitality industries for many years and always enjoyed it. We knew that working in a customer-facing environment with high energy would be where we could both thrive. After spending many hours searching ideas online, Justin found many sources of inspiration via YouTube etc. and wanted to focus on the water quality of coffee and the varying practices of wine producing. 

We love California Coffee & Wine. Somehow it just seems different to the other places around. Can you put your finger on what it is that makes it stand out?

We like to think our customer service is key. Attention to detail. Remembering guests' names and coffee orders goes a long way.  

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If you could unleash your inner coffee boffin – and we’re guessing it’s not very far from the surface – what would you tell us about the coffee you serve?

Our coffee is biodynamically grown. This is a farming practice that sits above organic farming.  We think that minimal intervention impacts the quality and therefore the taste of the coffee, making it richer and smoother than coffee beans that are grown on commercial farms. 

The green beans are delivered to us in 70kg sacks every few months. Our roasters roast the beans in 1kg batches using our on-site, Artisan 3e air roaster, which we imported from Idaho, USA. Each batch is slightly different, depending on the weather, beans, and the roaster himself, but the process of roasting usually takes around 15 minutes from start to finish.

Once the roast is complete, the beans are cooled down and served to guests within 24-hours using the Espresso Deck espresso machine, which was imported from Australia. Australians have the best reputation for great coffee and this machine is like the Bentley of espresso machines. The espresso is infused with water that has been filtered through the Pristine Hydro filtration system - the water is high-alkaline and free of nasty pesticides and residues, making for a rich, smooth, and delicious cup of coffee that gives optimal flavour and kick.

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It’s not just the coffee though, is it? The wine is an equal part of the title too. What makes the wine at California Coffee & Wine different from other bars and restaurants?

We source the majority of our wine from suppliers who have a large portfolio of biodynamic, organic, sulphite-free, vegan, and sustainable wines.  Like the process of farming for the coffee beans, we like to think that the lack of intervention in these wines gives the best taste. but also stops those terrible hangovers the day after.  Our California wines are rich and juicy and mostly come from practising-organic farms.  We believe great wine should be available to everyone. 

The food is an integral part of the California Coffee & Wine experience too but we’re guessing the name is already long enough without adding & amazing food. Do you cook yourself or do you have a team in the kitchen?

When we first started, we used to do the cooking ourselves. We had a panini grill and a chopping board behind the bar, where we would make a selection of hot and cold sandwiches.  After a few months, the space became too small for this, so we moved our kitchen and hired a chef who introduced us to the world of poached eggs and sourdough toast. The menu was a big success.  

Once the first lockdown happened in March, 2020, we knew we needed food that would lend well to take-away, as this would be the new offering for some time.  It was obvious that poached eggs and toast wouldn't work, so our new chef, created the Mexi-Cali inspired menu, with breakfast burritos, salads, and big sandwiches. The community loved the offering, so the menu has stayed the same since then. Our guests love The Don breakfast burrito.

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What’s your favourite dish you serve – and to make it tricky, you need to give us a daytime dish and an evening dish. We know how to turn the thumbscrews at Confidential.

Our most popular daytime dish is The Don Breakfast Burrito - it is a beast of a burrito, with four scrambled eggs, chilli jam, fresh coriander, smoked cheddar cheese, crispy onions, and your choice of Spanish chorizo, breakfast sausage, or sauteed spinach. It's incredible. 

For the evening, it's a toss-up between the chicken wings and the 'Not the Routine Poutine'. The poutine is our version of a classic Canadian dish of cheese curds, chips, and gravy. It's not one to be missed.

So there you have it. There’s not one thing that gives California Coffee & Wine its edge. Everything comes together to create the relaxed welcoming atmosphere: the flavours, the freshness, the ethics, the biodynamic beans. It’s like a harmony from The Mamas and The Papas. All together now: I’d be safe and warm (I’d be safe and warm), if I was in L.A. (if I was in L.A.), California dreaming (California dreaming) on such a winter’s day.

Click here to find out more about California Coffee and Wine