Aug 09, 2020

Fresno’s best in local coffee

Joy Marie Hallare / The Collegian


1940 North Echo Ave.

Echo Street Coffee, located in the former Jawawava Coffee, is nestled between Fresno High School and Fresno City College on the corner of Weldon and Echo Street. Mark Cifranic took over the coffee shop last October after the previous owner had to move away.

“We always wanted to make a coffee shop where people could study or hangout,” said Cifranic, who feels that the neighborhood has been very supportive.

Echo Street Coffee routinely sees a large amount of students and faculty from Fresno High School and Fresno City College, however, the music crowd has been a big draw for them.

On Tuesday evenings the coffeehouse hosts an open mic night that Cifranic said he has been very pleased with.

“We have some really good musicians that come through here,” Cifranic said.

Echo Street Coffee also hosts free shows every Friday. Cifranic said the coffee shop averages a crowd of about 30 or more people for these events. Cifranic also said most of their promotions are done through the Web site and through the musicians. He credits the artists they book for bringing people who had never been to the coffeehouse.

Echo Street has also garnered a loyal customer base with the food items offered on their menu.

“The Breakfast sandwiches and burritos are really excellent,” Cifranic said. They use organic produce for many of their items and offer vegetarian options. They also offer 10 percent off food and drinks with a student ID.


548 E. Olive Ave.

While some have found success in the coffeehouse business, others have not been so lucky. For Leo Rios, however, one failed business venture has led to a successful coffee bean roasting business.

Rios’ interest in starting a coffee bean roasting business was sparked after he began taking his beans to work. Soon after, many of his coworkers were eager to have more cups of his freshly-brewed coffee. Rios began roasting the beans in his garage with a modified popcorn popper.

Rios said word got out about his signature roasts and so he started selling it at local farmers markets and the Yoshi Now! flea market. It was through the flea market that he came up with the idea to open his own coffeehouse in the Fulton Mall.

However, the shop was not as successful as his roasting business.

“Fulton Mall really wasn’t ready for a real coffee house,” Rios said. “The coffee roasting aspect of the business grew, just not enough to meet the bills of that large space.”

Despite his failed business venture, people were still buying his coffee.

“Even after the coffee shop on Fulton Mall didn’t make it, I was still roasting coffee for a lot of the customers that frequented the spot,” Rios said. “[I spent] all of 2009 brainstorming our re-entry into business. The roasting aspect is still growing, but luck would bestow to us a place we can live in and also run a business from in the Tower District.”

In February of this year Rios opened Cafe Corazon.

Rios is hoping to buy a bigger roaster by the end of the year. But for now, Rios is holding monthly coffee tasting for customers who want to learn how to prepare the beans at home.


1122 East Champlain Drive

The Grind, located on the corner of Champlain and Perrin, is one of the few independent coffeehouses in north Fresno. Originally opened by previous owners as It’s A Grind by, Rick Urrutia and his mother took over the business three years ago.

While Urrutia said it has been a rough couple of years with businesses closing around the shop, they have grown with a steady flow of regular customers. Kaitlyn Wharton, an employee at The Grind, said the key to their success has been interacting with customers more than their competition, Starbucks.

“We know most of the customers by name. We know what drinks they order,” Wharton said.

Some customers come in so often that the staff has nicknamed them characters from the TV show “Cheers.”

While Wharton says interaction is a crucial part of The Grind, the quality of their coffee bean selection is what keeps people coming back for more. She says that while Starbucks offers packaged sandwiches and snacks, they prepare their food in store every day.

Urrutia says the burritos, made with cheese, egg, bacon and chorizo, are one of the most popular items on their menu. They also get fresh pastries delivered everyday from a local bakery.

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