Business

Trouble Coffee, which helped launch the artisan toast craze, closed after 15 years at sunset

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The beloved and eccentric business on the Avenue has ceased to exist after 15 years, and we should all mourn for a moment.

Trouble Coffee, the unique coffee shop that served as a path to mental and financial stability for its owner, Juliet Carrelli, and in the meantime became a test business for one of San Francisco’s haziest and quirkiest corners, has closed. Carrelli has not publicly commented on the closure, but according to the Chronicle, she personally handed over the space at 4033 Judah Street to neighbors Laura Seymour and Colin O’Malley, who run DamnFine Pizza, which opened in January 2021, and a nearby restaurant. Sunset cantina. Seymour and O’Malley plan to open DamnFine Coffee on the premises, continuing to serve coffee, toast and a few other items, but things will be very different from Trouble Coffee.

By the time “$4 toast” became the mantra and oft-repeated symbol of all that was wrong, overpriced, and overly noble in San Francisco a decade ago, Carrelli had been making thick slices of cinnamon toast for her customers for nearly five years. years already. And no one complained.

As Carrelli explained in the episode This American life Since 2014, Trouble Coffee has never had anything valuable or artisanal. The business and its idiosyncratic menu of coffee, young coconuts, cinnamon toast and grapefruit juice grew out of the mental health episodes Carrelli has had since her teenage years — what she always referred to as “problems” before. it was diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder in her early 30s. Food seemed like poison to her when the trouble started, but coconuts were, oddly enough, one of the few things she could eat – and they are quite nutritious, since you also get some vitamin C, hence the grapefruit juice.

Regarding the toast, she explained, “My mom used to make me toast. And so when I first opened Trouble, I wanted to feel safe. The toast was for me. many people. Nobody can get mad at toast. I mean, it’s toast. It’s cinnamon toast. Everyone is delighted.”

It all started with coffee, because it seemed that this was a business that she could handle even without experience. She worked and sometimes slept in a coffee shop in another part of the city, and there her boss advised her to open her own store, which had everything she needed: “He’s like this: take cups, make coffee. you’re out of cups, close the door and go get some more cups.”

Trouble Coffee opened in 2007 as The Trouble Coffee and Coconut Club and soon gained a following. Carrelli, with her facial and other tattoos, as well as outfits that usually included a crop top, said she looked the way she did so that people would recognize her and possibly help escort her home if she had bad episode. And the coffee shop was part of that self-preservation plan, too.

“So many people are connected through this Trouble Coffee network. Maybe I’m just a bit of a tiny place, but it’s pretty famous because I need to be famous,” Carrelli said. This American life. “I mean, I was just walking to my house before you guys came here. And it was this man with his son, and he said, “Hey, you are Trouble, right? And I just went, I’m sure.”

Photo: Michael Jang/Instagram

It’s been five years between Carrelli’s first order for cinnamon toast and the trend that harkens back to it—thanks in part to more upscale, noisier businesses like The Mill. Josie Baker, owner and baker of The Mill, paid tribute to Carrelli, saying: This American life this is pretty much where you can find the origin story of $4 toast – though Trouble toast has always been a bit cheaper.

It’s almost strange now that people grumbled about toast ten years ago – and most of them probably never even tried Baker’s or Carrelli’s toast, they just complained on the Internet about the very concept of expensive toast, unaware of the miracles. — or the price — of good, thick, toasted fresh bread and delicious toppings.

There can be many reasons for Trouble’s closure, and we shouldn’t speculate – in the past decade, the coffee shop has tried to expand into Bayview and West Oakland, but both have since closed and the business was vandalized in January. , with a window and a neon light that had to be replaced.

At the upcoming DamnFine Coffee, you can expect cinnamon and avocado toast on focaccia bread, Seymour tells the Chronicle, as well as sliced ​​pizza. Also, a pastry from the Black Jet Baking Co., which made headlines this week for its gleefully unholy brownies in protest of the Supreme Court ruling. Rowe vs. Wade overturning.

The DamnFine Café opens this weekend and you may recognize some of the Trouble employees who will be back to work behind the counter.

Connected: Eight best slices of toast (like destroyed San Francisco or something like that)

Photo: Giulietta Carrelli/Instagram


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