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Laguna Beach

 Volume 14, Issue 95  |  November 29, 2022


Jedidiah Coffee: the artistry and ingenuity of craft coffee from the Munsey family to you

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Yes, there is a word for someone who loves coffee – caféphile. For even the most discerning of caféphiles, Jedidiah Coffee is the ultimate taste experience. Steve and Embry Munsey, the owners of Jedidiah Coffee, are passionate about coffee – so much so that they have developed it into an art form. 

It’s apparent they’re doing what they love – and have been for some time – and our community is the fortunate recipient of that expertise. 

As Steve explains, there truly is a science to roasting, “The coffee industry is behind the craft beer industry. We need to catch up and get the palate adjusted to craft coffee.” 

Jedidiah coffee couple

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Steve and Embry Munsey

Why craft roasting?

Craft coffee roasting offers the versatility needed to roast a delicious batch of coffee by optimizing sweetness and clarity. By combining passion and ingenuity, craft roasters create original roasts that stand out from the rest as they are able to unlock varied nuances from within the bean.

As described by craft roasting experts, “The act of coffee roasting is nothing short of an art form. Roast masters – much like potters, sculptors, and oil painters – devote countless hours to the honing of their craft until they master it.”

When Embry and Steve met 18 years ago, they hadn’t yet discovered their mutual affection for coffee.

Embry (from Texas) and Steve (who grew up in Mission Viejo) met in Sydney, Australia, at a bible school. They long-distance dated for a while and then on a visit here, Steve picked Embry up at the airport and took her straight to the Orange Inn and then to the beach. Evidently, that cinched the deal. 

In 2005, Steve and Embry married and started their family in North Texas where Embry was born and raised. Steve had been working with Starbucks in Orange County which made for an easy transfer to Grapevine, Texas, when they moved there to be closer to Embry’s family.

Jedidiah coffee roaster

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The Munseys are planning on buying a larger roaster

Time in Texas

“Once in Texas, I moved up quickly and was promoted to manager within two years,” Steve adds.

“I got pregnant there with our firstborn, Zealan, but we had decided we wanted to raise our kids back here in Laguna,” says Embry. “So when he was four months old in April of 2008, we came back.”

Steve transferred to the Starbucks at Quail Hill and by that time there was talk of him being promoted to District Manager. “I loved the interaction with the community and getting to know the regulars. I would hike and surf with some of the regular customers,” says Steve. “It was that community in Irvine that started to refer to me as ‘the Mayor of Quail Hill’ and started encouraging me to open my own shop.”

By 2010, Steve had been at Starbucks over six years, and they both had warmed up to the idea of having their own cafe. “Embry was 38 weeks pregnant with our second son, Jedidiah, when we got a verbal ‘yes’ from an investor to move forward with a spot,” says Steve. “Just a week later, we lost Jedidiah [at birth], and put the whole coffee dream on hold. We kind of stopped doing everything. 

“We moved from Club Laguna in the Audubon down to Laguna Terrace in South Laguna, and I’d walk down to the beach every day to watch the pelicans. Being at the beach gave us a lot of peace during that time.” 

His fondness for pelicans is reflected in the Jedidiah Coffee logo, which is a uniquely designed abstract pelican in flight combined with the colorful art culture of Laguna Beach. 

Jedidiah coffee cups

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Jedidiah Coffee cups

“By late 2013, we added another boy to the crew, Gideon – our first ‘rainbow baby,’” says Embry. “Rainbow baby is the term for a child that’s born after a loss. A friend helped us come up with the middle name Malex that was a combination of Zealan and Jedidiah’s middle names. We want to always honor and hold a space for Jedidiah as part of our family and have found so much comfort and healing in sharing his story with people.”

Southern California had been home for the Munseys for over eight years, and they were deep in community at Mariners Church Irvine, where they both worked on staff from 2012 until the time they moved back to Texas in 2016. They were expecting their first (and only) daughter, Liberty, and “although SoCal was home, we were wanting to be back by my family, and possibly have more space for our growing family,” Embry says. 

Launch of coffee catering

“While we were in Texas, I worked for a hunger initiative organization, and we launched our coffee catering as a side business in 2017,” says Steve. “Because of a friend’s suggestion, Jedidiah Coffee was named in our own son’s memory.”

The Munseys stayed three years and did very well with the mobile coffee bar but didn’t feel like Texas was home for their family, so they came back here to Orange County in 2019.

“A year after we had moved back and relaunched in OC, we were starting to get traction with the business. We served regularly to the staff and students at LCAD right here in the Canyon and were finding our way back on preferred vendor lists around town,” says Embry. “We’re so happy to see events picking back up after such a wild year, and grateful to have this facility to house our roasting operations. We love that we have a space for our community to come by for a chat!”

Jedidiah coffee Steve

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Steve preparing a “pour over” which is used for small events

The majority of Jedidiah Coffee’s business is online. The Munseys offer pre-customizable coffee subscriptions (fulfilled every two weeks) with a 10 percent discount and free delivery for Laguna and Aliso Viejo (or the coffee can be picked up at their location). Subscriptions are a surefire guarantee that you’ll never run out of coffee and have to rush out to get more.

Five 12 oz blends are available – Ethiopia Sidama, Honduras Copan, Guatemala Heu Huetenango, Colombia Jerico, and Decaf Columbia.

In addition to subscriptions, they also offer small packages for hotels, a 10 oz sampler pack, a 40 oz bag, travel cups, hats, and other items.

Of course, although they want the city to know “they are here” and want to succeed, Embry says, “What sets us apart is that we truly want to be here for our community. We have worked hard since 2017 to create a dependable, quality coffee product and catering experience, but what truly drives us is offering whatever we have as a family and business back into our community, and partnering with the other local families, businesses, and organizations that do the same.”

They have already partnered with Hobie Surf Shop, Laguna College of Art and Design, Summer’s Table, Jade Tea, and Amenah and hope to expand their collaborations. 

Mobile coffee bar

Jedidiah Coffee offers next-level, full-service espresso bar service alongside their locally-roasted craft coffee. The mobile coffee bar is perfect for any gathering. Their events cover a wide spectrum – weddings, office parties, birthdays, anniversaries, corporate events, house warmings, employee appreciation, grand openings, and backyard soirées – pretty much any function one could imagine. 

Jedidiah coffee Embrey

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The mobile coffee bar – perfect for any gathering

Recently, they provided coffee for the teachers and staff at Laguna Beach High School for “Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week.” 

For get-togethers, the Munseys offer expresso drinks from their mobile coffee bar or pour overs for those on a smaller budget.

Their website states, “Since we truly believe every day calls for great coffee, we literally bring the entire (ultra-friendly) cafe vibe to you. So nix the average brew and let us pour our love and professionalism into giving you the absolute best coffee experience around! So what are you waiting for? Let us transform your venue, office, or even your home gathering into a coffee lounge full of excitement, good vibes, and of course, unforgettable coffee!” 

“One of the aspects I especially like is the party planning – we get to be part of people’s special occasions,” says Embry.

Currently, she is working with a friend in South Laguna on personalized cookies to add to the special occasion events.

Environmental responsibility

In running Jedidiah Coffee, environmental impact is uppermost on Steve’s mind. “We use an importer for the beans. In choosing, I look for the quality of production. Because some farms use child labor, the kids skip school. That doesn’t line up with our beliefs and sense of duty. One of our values to the community is that we try to select products that respect the environment – and people – even if we have to spend extra money. Even our cups and packaging are ecologically friendly.”

Jedidiah coffee door

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The door is always open – the guitar is Steve’s and Embry sings 

“Our initial dream in 2010 was to open a vibrant, welcoming cafe right here in the heart of Laguna Beach, and we are finally seeing that process begin,” says Embry. “We look forward to operating a coffee shop that not only serves incredible coffee beverages but becomes a space that locals and visitors alike come together to enjoy one another, and hopefully, rally to give back to our special town. Our company has always been about gathering people together and setting the tone for genuine, vulnerable conversation and relationship.” 

Invitation to stop by

As the Munseys say, “Coffee cultivates community.”

They want the town to know that, “We are here! Feel free to come by our roasting facility this summer, we just can’t promise it will be a quick chat. We’ll be posting specific hours and days, along with some fun offerings we’ll have available certain days of the week – make sure you’re following us on Instagram to keep up with all the excitement.” 

When not at their facility, the Munseys spend time together as a family, hiking and surfing. Zealan is a student at Thurston, Gideon goes to Top of the World, and Liberty, when she’s old enough, will go there as well.

So stop by and take a look any weekday morning, but best to call ahead and let them know you’ll be coming by – at 2177 Laguna Canyon Rd. Use the driveway between the wine gallery and the classic car shop – take it to the end, go left, and then just follow the wonderful coffee smell to their location.

Caféphiles, don’t miss your chance to give Jedidiah Coffee your own discriminating taste test. You won’t be disappointed.

Stay tuned as their coffee journey goes full circle, marking ten years this summer. 

For more information about Jedidiah Coffee, go to www.jedidiahcoffee.comor call (949) 291-4325.

 

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com

Lana Johnson, Editor - Lana@StuNewsLaguna.com

Tom Johnson, Publisher - Tom@StuNewsLaguna.com

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

Email: Editor@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc.

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