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Saturday, April 25, 2015


The hard working staff of Capricorn Coffees, who carry on the quality roasting legacy of coffee pioneers Jim Hardcastle and Herb Donaldson
BRAND LOYALTY--Deb met Zac while they were just out of San Jose State University and were winding down their interest in the fraternity/sorority scene.  Post-college they met at one last mixer and the rest is marital bliss history.  While living in San Francisco, she was a regular buyer of Capricorn Coffees, especially the dark French roast.  She bought it finely ground and made pour overs for her new husband.  That was in the mid-1990’s. 

Today, the couple lives in the Eastern edge of Alameda County, across the bay from San Francisco.  They still have Capricorn Coffees shipped them on a regular basis.  That’s 20 years for those of us counting.

Order: 1-800-541-0758
“We still stick with the dark French roast from Capricorn.  We order four pounds (ground) at a time,” says Deb, who works for an insurance firm.

“We simply like it and like most coffee lovers we’ve experimented with other brands and blends,” says Zac, a marketing executive, “we’ve pretty much settled on the dark French roast.  We love it because it does the job in waking us in the morning.  We have two sons, who need to get to school early and I have a long commute.  We need a wake up call,” he says.

Deb and Zac also mentioned getting a full pound of great coffee for under $10 keeps them brand loyal.  “Price isn’t the key factor, however great taste and convenience are,” adds Zac.  “It’s uncanny how many times our standing automatic four-pound renewal order arrives the day we poured our last cup.”

Capricorn Coffees is a non-pretentious coffee roaster located in the commercial district south of Market Street (353 10th Street, 415.621.8500) with a remarkable history (see below).
The hard working staff at Capricorn has been roasting specialty coffee in San Francisco since 1963. Capricorn retails more than 50 different coffees, including exotic single origin varietals and richly hand-crafted blends. To maintain Capricorn's tradition of quality, all green coffees are carefully sampled before purchase. Coffees purchased are then roasted fresh and sampled at the cupping table to ensure the balanced character and complexity of our signature full-city roast is perfectly represented in the finished cup.
Capricorn Coffees has a no-frills tasting room as part of its just-the- beans retail operation that’s open Mon-Fri 7 am to 3 pm.

Thanks to Deb and Zac's coffee tip we have since learned the amazing legacy of Capricorn Coffees has as part of the early history of the coffee revolution.  Capricorn Coffees was opened before Starbucks and Peets.


San Francisco-based
CUP OF CAPRICORN HISTORY--Herbert Donaldson, a young lawyer in private practice and his partner, James Hardcastle, opened one of the very first specialty coffee roasters in San Francisco in 1963. It was called Hardcastle’s Coffees and located on Union Street. They eventually changed its name to Capricorn Coffees for Jim’s astrological birth sign. The success of their coffee roasting business inspired Alfred Peet to open Peet’s Coffee in Berkeley in 1966 and Starbucks Coffee in Seattle in 1971 started by three employees of Alfred Peet. When Jim Hardcastle passed away in 1978, Herb devoted himself to running Capricorn until he became a judge in 1983.

Besides being at the start of the specialty coffee craze in the US, Herb played a key role in shaping San Francisco's inclusion of the LGBT community. On New Year's Eve 1965, as a volunteer at a legal, public fundraiser for several homophile organizations at California Hall, Herb told the police "God damn it, that's enough. You can't come in again without a search warrant” as they returned the fourth time attempting to break up the event. Herb was arrested and taken away in a police wagon. To justify their actions, the police sent out a press release claiming that San Francisco was overrun with 75,000 homosexuals. This unwittingly prompted the beginning of steady migrations of LGBT people to the area. Ultimately, the presiding judge overseeing the case instructed the jury to acquit Herb and 3 others arrested at the event. This incident has been widely acknowledged as a turning point in gay rights on the West Coast.

In 1983, Herb was appointed California’s first openly gay male judge by then-Governor Jerry Brown. He officially retired in 1999 but continued as an assigned judge to San Francisco Behavioral Health Court which offers alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders with behavioral health issues. For his leadership, contributions, and lifetime dedication to advancing justice, equality, and compassion for all, Herb received numerous awards, including a special tribute by the ACLU in 2006. He died in 2008.

In honor of Herb & Jim Blend, the next generation of Capricorn Coffees owners created in 2013 to celebrate Capricorn's 50th Anniversary. As a tribute to our two founders who were also life-long animal advocates, Capricorn Coffees donate $2 of every pound sold to the San Francisco SPCA.

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