Henry’s House of Coffee is a long-running coffee shop and micro-roastery with a legacy dating back to the sixties.
It is one of San Francisco’s first specialty coffee companies, that today sells house-roasted beans, espresso drinks and pastries, and brewing accessories.
Visit Henry’s House of Coffee at 1618 Noriega Street, and experience what three generations of coffee roasting tastes like!
You can also check out their great website (and order coffee beans online), or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
We got a chance to interview Hrag, owner of Henry’s HoC, in September 2017.
How did Henry’s House of Coffee get started?
Our story started off with a small peanut roaster and a store located on Irving Street in 1965. Back then the focus was geared more towards European products such as chocolates from Holland, jams and olives from Italy and cheese from Greece.
Coffee became more of a morning ritual in the Bay Area and we began roasting more coffee in the mornings as a way to attract business. Our focus shifted to the coffee beans themselves. We started bringing in more high quality beans, and we increased our knowledge of the roasting process. After a small stint, the store was moved to our current location (1618 Noriega Street) in June of 1971. And since then, we continued the art of roasting and providing premium coffees and teas to our neighborhood.
All in all, we have been in business for 52 years! We also recently became the first Legacy Business in the Sunset district.
We have 10 part-time and 3 full-time employees today. We roast 5 days a week, for roughly 4 hours each day. (Henry’s roaster is at the back of their cafe, giving you a chance to see the roasting process from up close if you visit their store in the mornings).
Hrag and Henry, what is your story, and how did the father and son end up working together here as roasters?
Henry Kalebjian: [Hrag’s father]
My roasting roots began in Lebanon where my father owned a bakery and served coffee to the locals. Back then coffee wasn’t easy to find and source, so you had to roast your own coffee if you wanted to drink it. As the business grew, my father pulled me out of school at 12 years old to help him with the store. My job was to roast the coffee.
I moved to the US in the early 70s and first worked as a draftsman. In 1983, I decided to leave and purchase my own business – we bought the House Of Coffee from Andy Devletian. He’s an Armenian as well, and had started the business in 1965, at the time on Irving St.
I love the coffee business. Our store was the only coffee roaster in the Sunset District then, and I started to import green coffee beans from all over the world. Pretty soon, we were roasting not only for the locals but for more and more businesses from all over the Bay Area.
In 1990, I purchased the San Franciscan, the current roaster that we still use today. Even today, I continue to create new blends and roasts to adapt to people’s tastes – I want them to love our coffee. [Critics agree: Henry’s House of Coffee was awarded “San Francisco’s Finest Coffee” and earned accolades in the SF Bay Guardian, Best of SF, and the Independent.]
The business continues to grow and coffee is now shipped all over the United States, from Hawaii to New York.
Hrag Kalebjian: [Henry’s son]
When I was thirteen my father would drag me out of bed on Saturdays to help with the store. I hated it! I wanted to watch Scooby Doo. I remember scooping pounds of coffee and packing them in clear colored bags for our wholesale accounts.
I was never interested in the business which is why I ended up working in corporate finance for almost ten years. My last job was at AAA where I was a manager of Sales Operations. I loved my job but there was something missing. I realized there is something very special about a tradition that is passed down from one generation to another so I left and made the switch in July of 2013.
When you visit us, you’re not just walking into our store, you’re walking into our home. You are part of our family. We’ve seen many people come through, including Mayor Ed Lee, SF State President Dr Lee, President Bill Clinton, William Saroyan, and of course our local supervisors, including Katy Tang. We have partnered with the Office Of Economic and Workforce Development and were awarded funds for the Invest In Neighborhoods project.
For us coffee is more than a business venture, it’s part of our heritage.
Tell us more about your coffees!
We are well-known for our dark roasted coffees. My father’s specialty is ensuring the coffee beans don’t taste bitter or burnt. He’s been working on his craft for over 30 years, and customers are always surprised at how smooth our dark roasted coffees are. Our #1 seller is Bella Finca which my father created almost 15 years ago. We use it in our espresso drinks and it tastes delicious. Our other famous coffee is another blend my father created over 20 years ago called Henry’s Blend. It’s a medium roasted coffee which we use in our Cold Brew.
Can you think of any coffee fun facts?
Sure! I have a few. Let’s see…
– A full mature coffee tree will produce only 1lb of roasted coffee a year! Imagine how many coffee trees there are in the world.
– The coffee “bean” is actually the seed of the coffee plant, the pit inside of the coffee fruit.
– The term French Roast refers to the color of the roasted bean, not necessarily the type of coffee.
– 100% Arabica coffee doesn’t imply that the coffee is from the middle east, but rather the high-quality varietal of coffee known as Arabica.
Anything new at Henry’s House of Coffee?
Yes, we just remodeled the store! A customer of ours described it as a “new larger space, with the same delicious coffee.” We’ve flipped the store to make more room for customers and built custom-made benches. We’ve got a new Roaster’s bar where we can consult on your coffee-related needs. We also brought in new pastries from Andersen Bakery, including lunch-time snacks.
We’re very happy with the remodel! It was necessary to continue to establish our company and brand. Now, my focus is to maintain the same quality and high standards as my father.
Here is a sneak peek at their new storefront.
Why manufacture locally?
Manufacturing locally not only gives you a competitive edge, but a sense of accomplishment and value. Products that are crafted locally have a story to tell, and our customers love that. For me personally, it’s as much a piece of my heritage as it is a passion.
Why did you join SFMade?
I joined SFMade because I wanted to be a part of a larger community that supported locally manufactured businesses. I’m honored to be represented by them. I think SFMade does a great job in promoting and supporting these companies.