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After 44 years, Oakland coffee roaster Mr. Espresso is opening its first cafe

Oakland-based coffee roaster Mr. Espresso has been roasting Italian-style, oak wood-roasted coffee and selling it to Bay Area retailers and restaurants for nearly 45 years.

Now, they’re going directly to coffee-loving consumers.

The Caffè by Mr. Espresso, which is slated to open in May and will be located at 1100 Broadway, will be a 1,200-square-foot stand-and-sip espresso bar inspired by the family’s Italian roots.

Gustavo Delgado, an employee at Mr. Espresso, roasts beans in Jack London Square, not far from the forthcoming cafe in downtown Oakland. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Located near the 12th Street BART station, not far from the company’s roastery in Jack London Square, the cafe will be housed on the ground floor of downtown’s Oakland’s newest high rise, a 18-story office tower named “The Key at 12th.” The development incorporates the historic Key Systems Building, a national landmark, into the design.

Plans for the cafe began in 2020 but its opening was postponed by the pandemic. For a time, the company lost 95 percent of its business supplying restaurants, cafes, hotels and offices, which closed or were in flux since March 2020.

Carlo Di Ruocco, an immigrant from Salerno, Italy, started Mr. Espresso in 1978 as an espresso machine sales and maintenance business, and grew it into a popular oak wood-roasted coffee wholesaler. These days, Di Ruocco’s sons, Luigi and John Di Ruocco, and daughter, Laurence “Laura” Zambrano, run day-to-day operations and the development of the cafe.

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