TMC’s SBA 504 loan finances $5.4 million in combined project costs
“First there was Folgers, then came Starbucks and we’re part of the third wave,” explains Jodi Geren, a partner in Four Barrel Coffee. “What’s going on in specialty coffee today is a focus on quality.”
After cofounding the legendary San Francisco roastery Ritual Coffee, Jeremy Tooker struck out on his own in 2007 to obsess further about quality coffee.
“Jeremy built the first Four Barrel café by himself, with friends, on a shoestring budget,” Geren said, noting that she and Tal Mor soon signed on as partners. “We’ve all been working in coffee since we were 15 and had crossed paths for years. The planets finally came into alignment for us to work together.”
Starting up in the middle of a recession proved challenging. “We kind of white-knuckled it through the hard times to get where we are now,” Geren said. “The business is growing and we’re feeling established and solid. We have TMC to thank for that feeling of stability. Working with TMC was a game-changer.”
As the business grew and stabilized, Geren said San Francisco’s frenzied rental market still created concerns about being able to remain independent for the long term. “We were really getting nervous that we’d be priced out of the neighborhoods we helped establish when our leases are up,” Geren said. “Now we know we’ll always have at least one café in San Francisco because we own the building at 9th Street. That gives us a place of security that we didn’t have before. It’s a good feeling.”
In addition to the SBA 504 loan for Four Barrel’s third San Francisco café, TMC provided funding for a new roastery in Oakland to support Four Barrel’s continued wholesale growth. “In the beginning, retail really was the driving force in our business, but over the years wholesale has become the driver. It just takes time to build up that business. Now we sell to cafes all over the country that are high-volume and passionate about quality,” Geren said.