Cafe Santana

Oakland, CA

Richard Santana first read about the benefits of fresh roasted coffee while on a plane. The article described how to roast coffee in a popcorn maker, so he decided to try it. Thirteen years later, he now owns a successful coffee roasting business and cafe in Oakland.

Starting by roasting for himself, then neighbors, Richard expanded to the Jack London Square farmers market four years ago. Roasting on site every Sunday, he built a following. On October 31, 2015, Richard opened his brick and mortar cafe at 4100 MacArthur Blvd. The cafe offers empanadas, bagels, and more, but for Richard and his team of six employees, it’s all about the coffee. “We pride ourselves on fresh roasted coffee. We roast in small batches and offer an on-demand service for our customers. You can walk in and walk out with a warm bag of coffee in your hands when you visit our cafe,” says Richard.

Richard came to Main Street Launch (then OBDC Small Business Finance) after being turned down for a couple of loans. He was financing the build-out of the cafe on credit cards, so his loan helped to off-set those costs. “Having the loan helped me make decisions about the type of equipment I could buy. Having the right espresso machine to do third wave coffee correctly was really important to me, but more expensive. Without the loan, I would have had to go a cheaper route,” says Richard. “The lending process was pretty easy and smooth for me,” reflects Richard. “Whenever something else was needed, I knew about it right away. It also helped that I already had so much of the paperwork together.”

Opening the physical location also added jobs: “We grew from a team of two to a team of six. The loan gave me some security when I was hiring because of the working capital I received. The money from the loan came at just the right time.” Richard is an educator first, and all of his staff are college students. He offers flexible, part-time work that allows students to earn for their education and build skills that they can take into the future.

When aspiring entrepreneurs approach Richard for advice, he always talks about preparing for the permitting process. “Obtaining permits is complex and time consuming, which ends up being expensive. Plan for both the time it takes and the emotional ups and downs that come when there are set-backs,” advises Richard.
Visit Cafe Santana Tuesday-Sunday for your fresh roasted coffee, and to check out the community art and events they host at their location.