More Than Just Coffee
John and LeeAnn Krause are no newcomers to the coffee industry. They opened their original Big House Beans location in Antioch four years ago, which is where they continue to manufacture all of their coffee.
However, their dream of having a location to be able to embrace the community didn’t come to fruition until about a year ago when they signed the lease to open the 1155 2nd Street Brentwood location.
Coffee started out as a hobby for John. “I began by roasting coffee in our garage when we first got married,” said John. “We lived in Danville and there would be smoke billowing out of our garage. People would come over to make sure things were ok.” His passion for the craft can be attributed to a friend and mentor who introduced him to what good coffee should actually taste like. “We would roast coffee at his house. It was the first time that I tasted coffee in a different way that was very intriguing.” John quickly fell in love with coffee and developed a passion for the industry.
At the time when he discovered this new-found love, John was at a point of transition from a previous business. Opening a coffee company was not in the original plans. “I just prayed and asked God what he wanted us to do,” said John. “After weeks, or maybe even months, of praying I felt like I got an answer. It was one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments where I felt God speak to me.” John felt called to use the coffee industry as a platform to share his story and glorify what God had done in his life. “With a colorful past like mine, with 16 years of addiction, 12 years of incarceration, and homelessness, I was very passionate about being an advocate to break the stigma that society has at large against people that are different than them.”
Now four years later, Big House Beans is partnered with quite a few businesses including locals like Sip and Scoop California and the Brentwood Farmers Market. “We’ve been at the farmers market for four years, which is why we felt we owed it to Brentwood to bring them a café,” said John. They also provide delicious brews for various cafes, restaurants, and churches in areas such as Oakland and Livermore. However, their primary partners are tech companies like Salesforce, Airbnb, Splunk, and many more. “It’s very humbling. It was practically impossible for me to find a job initially, so when I have a meeting at Salesforce or Sony or LinkedIn, I’ll tell my story. It’s encouraging to be able to have something that was so awful for so many years be used for good now.”
Regular patrons know, and newcomers quickly find out, that Big House Beans does not skimp on the quality of their coffee. “We aim for specialty coffees that score in the high-80s to mid-90s on a 100-point scale,” said John. John and LeeAnn go through a process of requesting samples of different beans from reputable importers and try to get as close to the source as possible. Once received they then go through a cupping process to evaluate aroma and taste. They line up the spectrum of roasts from dark to light, similar to wine tasting, and use the same standards as the Specialty Coffee Association of America to keep things fair and consistent. “If you taste one coffee you’ll think it’s good, but if you taste another coffee side by side, you’ll really notice the differences,” said John. “Just because a coffee costs you more, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best tasting.”
If you walk into Big House Beans on any given day there is a certain selection of coffees that remains consistent. They always have a dark roast on drip for the hardcore dark roast drinkers. Then they have a medium on drip, most likely a single origin coffee, that will be periodically rotated. In addition to those two staples will be three other single origins available for pour over. “Those are usually higher quality coffees that are more unique,” said John. “Usually we offer better coffees as a pour over to let the coffees themselves shine.” John’s current favorite is a Sulawesi from Indonesia. “Our goal is to roast in a way that it tastes as good as it smells.” Often times the delicious smell of coffee does not match the taste, which is typically from over roasting. “The coffee industry is massive; there are so many aspects to it. A lot of the industry we’re exposed to are coffee shops like Starbucks that are ‘sexy,’” said John. “On the back side it’s a lot of hard work. It’s hot, dusty, dirty, and messy, but it’s absolutely worth it.”
Visit Big House Beans’ Brentwood location, in walking distance of downtown, and try one of their lattes, cappuccinos, or pour overs. Don’t forget to pair your beverage with one of their blueberry scones, waffle with whipped cream and fresh fruit, or impressive avocado toast. John and LeeAnn invite you to get comfortable, enjoy your food and drinks, and stay awhile.
Business: Big House Beans
Address: 1155 2nd Street, Brentwood, CA 94513
Tel: (925) 679-7687
Photos by: Ron Essex Photography