Equator Readies to Hang Ten with Proof Lab

by laura everage on June 5, 2013 · 1 comment


Equator Coffee & Teas to Open at Proof Lab Surf Shop – Mill Valley, California

In just a couple of weeks the new Equator at Proof Lab coffee cafe will open in the Tam Junction area of Mill Valley, California. Scheduled for a June 21st opening, the new shared space, Equator at Proof Lab, brings the finest, ethically-sourced coffee from around the world to the hub of surf, skate, music and art at Proof Lab in Mill Valley. Equator at Proof Lab is Equator’s first retail coffee bar.

So we had to ask, how did these two local businesses pair up? According to Helen Russell, co-founder and CEO of the San Rafael, CA-based Equator Coffees & Teas,  “Proof Lab approached us and inquired if we were interested in doing a coffee bar concept at their location, which is a vibrant community gathering place, and also the gateway stop for surfers.” She added, “The Tam Junction location was intriguing, and a tour of the property was enough to mobilize us into action. The Proof Lab complex with its mix of businesses, has a quirky, eclectic, incubator vibe that appeals to us. We were actively in search of our first neighborhood location, and it felt like a good fit.”

Created by Boor Bridges Architecture of San Francisco, the coffee bar is described as ‘beach shack meets modern day coffee bar,” and is complete with copper fixtures and red Elm furnishings. The space will pay homage to Proof Lab’s rich surf culture, incorporating many of the surf elements including the five surfboards out front. Equator’s signature red is infused throughout the design, most notably the eye-catching red exterior with Equator’s iconic Bengal Tiger mascot. The coffee bar is designed with an outdoor patio for enjoyment of the sunny surf shop atmosphere, featuring a large table to encourage a communal coffee experience. The seating area has surfboards on display for sale and is surrounded by lush plantings, including tall native grasses and colorful planters.


According to Russell, “Part of the appeal of collaboration is practical – a shared space lends itself to a relatively small retail footprint for us, making it financially accessible.” She further explained that a collaboration such as this can build upon the existing micro-community that supports one or both of the businesses involved. “If community is about inhabiting shared space, then collaboration is inevitable.”

For those of you not familiar with Mill Valley, which is located just 15 miles north of San Francisco, there is no shortage of great tasting coffee to consume. Locals and tourist alike enjoying coffee at a variety of long-time spots including Peet’s, Starbucks, LaCoppa Coffee and The Depot Bookstore and Cafe, to the newer Coyote Coffee kiosk in Tam Valley (which serves up coffee and espresso from Thanksgiving Coffee Company), and the addition of Blue Bottle Coffees to Mill Valley Beer Works.

Yet both Russell and Brooke McDonnell, co-founder and Master Roaster, saw the potential for offering something different. “The alchemy of exceptional coffee and tea served by excellent baristas, with sweet & savory baked goods from Beth’s Community Kitchen and Flour Craft is the starting point.” She continued, “We will have coffee & tea tastings on Sundays, classes on brewing techniques, and barista “throw downs” (latte art competitions). We look forward to exploring ways to engage the community. We are utilizing the sensibilities of our “third wave” team to bring. this experience to Mill Valley.”

Look for a wide-variety of coffees, from classic blends to seasonal single-origin offerings, such as the Fair Trade and Organic certified Ecuador El Batan.

Brewing methods will include Hario V60, AeroPress, and Chemex. With Equator’s seasonal coffee menu, guests will be able to experience high-end single-origin coffees like the celebrated Colombia Cerro Azul Geisha and other distinct varieties from coffee growing regions around the world.

Full espresso service will be available as well, featuring signature blends and seasonal single-origin offerings pulled on a La Marzocco Strada, a hand-made Italian espresso machine. House-made syrups will be available, including a mocha made with TCHO chocolate. A selection of loose-leaf specialty teas will also be available.

For those living in the area, get ready to make Equator Proof Lab a daily stop. And, if you’re passing through Mill Valley on the way to the beach, Equator Proof Lab is easy to access – just pull right in.

Summer hours are as follows:

Monday through Friday: 6:30 am – 6 pm

Saturday: 7 a.m. – 6 pm

Sunday: 8 a.m. – 5 pm


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