At Hopper & Burr, the coffee menu is simple. It’s divided between black (filter and espresso) and white (cappuccino, latte, and mocha). It’s a no frills coffee shop serving really good, high quality drinks. The location is quaint and might be hidden for some, as it is inside Little Sparrow, a café in downtown Santa Ana. Hopper & Burr is technically a pop-up coffee shop and has been since February. But the main reason why Hopper & Burr will be your new favorite coffee shop? Truman Severson. Severson is the owner of Hopper & Burr. He’s been working in the industry for almost a decade and his passion and knowledge for coffee is incredible. He’s also one of five people featured in the upcoming documentary, “Baristas” which follows the subculture of barista competitions and coffee aficionados. He’s too humble to ever admit it, but he’s basically a coffee genius in our book. Read below to know more about Truman Severson and Hopper & Burr.
DTSA: Tell us about yourself.
Truman Severson: Well, I’m Truman, I’m 26, born and raised here in Orange County (Garden Grove) But my wife and I live here in Santa Ana now.
How did Hopper and Burr come about? Is this your first business? Do you have a business partner?
It is my first business, and it’s just me as far as ownership goes. Hopper & Burr came about out of me wanting to use this skills that I’ve learned over the last 8 years.
Also, what does “Hopper & Burr” mean?
A hopper and a burr are two parts of a coffee grinder, and I tought the words sounded good together.
Hopper & Burr is a neighborhood coffee shop. I’ve worked at a number of high concept, destination coffee shops; the kind where getting coffee is a spectacle and an event. While I think those types of businesses are cool and certainly worthwhile, I have found that I much prefer to run a simple, neighborly coffee bar.
it’s paramount to me to be serving the highest quality coffee possible.
When did you get involved in coffee?
I’ve been working in coffee since 2007, I started at Starbucks, but then spent about two and a half years working in in some killer coffee bars in Los Angeles, there I got to work under some of the best coffee professionals in the country (and if you look at their awards shelves, the world) after that I came back down to Orange County and worked at Portola from the very beginning. There I was the trainer and headed up quality control, I also helped open, run, and manage Portola’s concept bar, Theorem. As far as what I’ve learned, geez, I think if I had to sum it up, I’d say I learned how to be a student. I learned the deep importance of feeling like I’ve never learned enough.
Why did you decide to open up in downtown Santa Ana?
I choose DTSA because I like it here. I think it’s one of few places in Orange County that functions like a city. There’s a center of town and homes around it, rather than tract homes and strip malls, which means everyone comes to the same place to eat, and shop and generally do business. It’s also diverse, and I like that.
Okay, let’s talk about the coffee! How do you brew the coffee?
We brew all of our filter coffee on a batch brewer, sometimes folks expect us to brew with pour overs, and what we generally tell people is that we’ve outsourced our pour overs to a robot, which, while silly, is basically true. By brewing in batches we can insure high quality, every single time, without fail. It also frees us up to talk with our customers. Our whole menu is set up to let us talk with people. On the surface, it’s only five drinks, and the phrase ‘If you don’t see what you want, just ask.’ So if we get a really nerdy coffee person and they ask if we serve a certain drink, we can say yes, but we don’t have to put that drink on the menu, because that really nerd coffee jargon can be intimidating to someone who just wants a simple experience.
What beans do you use? I read that H&B is a multi-roaster. Can you tell us what that means?
Yeah! That means that we get to work with lots of different roasters’ coffees. We rotate the roasters we use based on what coffees they have in season, and what we think tastes best at any given moment.
This is more of a curiosity, but what is good coffee? Or what makes good coffee? Can that even be answered?
Oh man, that’s a rabbit hole of a question. Simply, Good coffee is coffee that has been taken care of by everyone who has touched it. For a coffee to be good, it has to be well cared for by a grower, and a harvester, and the person in charge of processing and drying it, and the person who packs it and ships it, and an importer, and then by a roaster, and them by a barista. If at any point in that chain, some one doesn’t do their job well, the coffee cannot recover, it can never make up for that lost quality.
Good coffee is the product of people working together across the globe, who don’t know one another, for the purpose of serving a drink to a customer.
We’ll serve you any drink that we have the ingredients for. But the menu itself reads espresso, capp, Latte, Mocha, and filter coffee. We also do seasonal drinks. Right now we’re making a pumpkin spice syrup from fresh pumpkin, spices and turbinado sugar. we also do serve some toast. We get killer bread from Bread Artisan Bakery here in DTSA, and try to showcase the quality of their products by doing really simple toasts, cinnamon toast on fresh brioche, avocado toast on a pancetta and asiago loaf, things of that nature.
I read that you guys make your own almond milk?
Yup, Andrew is formally know as an almond milk wizard. He wrote the recipe we use and it’s the best almond milk that exists, period. If you think you know some one who makes better almond milk then we can set up a competition, but remember, you’d be entering into a competition against a wizard.
How many employees do you have?
Just one, his name is Andrew and he is just as much apart of the daily operations of the shop as I am. Not only does he have the chops to wreck shop at any cafe of the face of planet earth, he remembers all of the things i forget. when I zig, he zags.
Are you planning on opening more pop up shops around OC? Possibly have a brick and mortar? Any ideas where you’d want it to be?
It’s definitely in the works, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
Hopper & Burr (inside Little Sparrow Cafe)
300 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
7:00am to 3:00pm Mon-Sat