Handlebar Coffee Roasters is bringing a taste of Europe to Santa Barbara.
Former professional cyclists Aaron Olson, 34, and Kim Anderson, 44, opened Handlebar Coffee Roasters at 128 E. Canon Perdido St. about two weeks ago.
“We learned to love and spend a lot of time in squares in Europe after training hard,” Olson said. “We would enjoy a break in cobblestone squares, drink a cappuccino and people watch.”
He said a good cup of coffee goes beyond technique and flavor.
“The atmosphere you’re surrounded by helps the whole experience. It’s a lot more than preparing great drinks,” Olson said. “Hopefully it’s great customer service and something people look forward to every day.”
Olson and Anderson have been roasting their own coffee from their garage for the past year. The coffee is created in mostly light and medium roasts, and rather than the automatic drip machine, it’s made through a press pot. Olson said roasting requires plenty of humility and patience.
“Similar to racing, if you want to be the best you can’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from the best,” he said. “You have to soak up as much knowledge as you can.”
They did just that at the American Barista & Coffee School in Portland, Ore., Olson’s hometown.
“We’ve never been afraid of putting in 16-hour days,” Olson said. “Seeing locals come in here and knowing they are going away smiling is the best feeling.”
The couple renovated the former Three Pickles location to promote a friendly, open atmosphere, Anderson said. They installed three sets of double glass doors that welcome plenty of natural light and open into a patio they share with Three Pickles. The store features an artistic array of exposed wood and recycled countertop.
“I want everyone to come here and meet up,” Anderson said. “Hopefully with the glass doors it will be a nice open atmosphere.”
Santa Barbara freelance photographer Jeff Clark says the product is top-notch.
“It’s mind-blowing,” Clark said. “You can taste the dedication and craftsmanship of the press coffee.”
In terms of creating world-class coffee, so far the duo have succeeded, said Richard Weedn of Ford Motor Co.
“I’ve been all over the planet, and this is as good of coffee as I’ve had in any place,” he said. “It takes a lot to get us hooked, but (Aaron and Kim) doing it in a few days is pretty serious. It has a European flavor and is really put together like a family business.”