Trail Coffee back in business

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Trail Coffee Roasters, April 11, 2018 in Stockton. Trail opened its new location in early April.

After six months being absent of a café, Trail Coffee Roasters opened up a new location on 501 East Main Street in Stockton.

The new location serves as a boutique coffee shop for the public as well as a roasting facility for distribution to major retailers.

Trail Coffee Roasters is the retail end of a coffee empire operated and managed by Gianna Vicari.

Her family owns a farm in Cerritos de Jesus in Nicaragua, where they source most of the beans used in the coffee blends.

Vicari and her team take pride in Trail being a fully transparent coffee company who grows, harvests, washes and roasts the coffee.

“[We want] to teach the community about specialty coffee and our farming practices and our roasting techniques and the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of what we’re doing here, which is super important to us,” said Vicari. “We take a lot of pride in our craft and are always looking to expand, you know our learning, techniques as well.”

Zach Bailey is in charge of processing orders and roasting coffee.

The story, or trail, of the coffee bean starts on the Nicaraguan side of Cerritos de Jesus, or Jesus Mountain, at the coffee farm. The coffee fruit is picked, washed, dried, bagged and shipped to Oakland and then sent to Stockton after customs.

Trail offers single origin Nicaraguan light, medium and dark roasts named Trailblazer, Sugar Pine and Black Diamond respectively. They use these along with other beans to make their Switchback and Buckeye blends.

Kirk, a local Stocktonian who attended Delta College for one year, laid the foundation for Trail Coffee Roasters.

“In 1977-78, I went down to Central America and [met] up with a couple of high school friends and that’s when I got introduced to coffee,” said Kirk. “I fell in love: the country, the people. I went down for thirty days and stayed for two years.”

After returning to Stockton and starting his real estate company, Bing purchased his farm in 1999 and roasted in Manteca as a hobby. With the encouragement from Bing and her mom Jody Kirk, Vicari rebranded their operations to Trail Coffee Roasters and opened up The Alley, an espresso bar located on an alley in E. Miner street.

“The Alley I always thought of as a test run, a test kitchen,” said Vicari. “Let’s cook things we always wanted to bake, let’s try out these specialty drinks, let’s make our own simple syrups and like let’s experiment with all that stuff.”

“It was just this funky little area we loved,” said Jody, who helped her daughter in running the business.

With the experience of working at The Alley up her sleeve, along with the support of her parents, Vicari was able to open up the new location.

“For a city, like Stockton’s trying to become, especially downtown Stockton, is trying to make a name for itself,” said Vicari. “And there are certain like places that go in to a big city, you know. You need a couple restaurants, a couple bars, good coffee shop, a grocery store.”

Trail hopes to be one of the hallmarks for downtown Stockton.

“Our position in this community is to provide our positive atmosphere for anyone, any demographic, any person, and you know, is traveling though, or from here, a place where they can come and meet friends and hang out and feel comfortable and at home … Coffee is relatively inexpensive, so you can come here and enjoy yourself.”

Aside from the craft of their coffee, the Kirk family takes pride in their philanthropic efforts for the community near the Nicaragua farm. The family has built a medicinal farm, a church, a school and dormitories for the local families.

Vicari is looking forward to starting a pen pal program between their school and local Stockton schools.