Garden party

Boris Breckenridge

Photo by Meredith J. Cooper

Like many others, Boris and Lory Breckenridge were tired of being caught up in the rat race in the Bay Area, prompting them to look for somewhere nicer to live. Lory’s grandparents were walnut farmers in Vina, so she was familiar with Chico, and when the couple visited, they knew they’d found their new home. One of their favorite places to spend time in the Bay was a local nursery that had a coffee cart. Aiming to replicate that experience, they recently opened Mockingbyrd Coffee Co.—the name is an homage to Charles Bukowski, Boris says—at Magnolia Gift & Garden (1367 East Ave.). During a recent visit, Boris—who also books music at the Naked Lounge and Tender Loving Coffee—took a few minutes to talk about the new business and what he hopes it will bring to Chico.

Tell me about your cafe.

Everything is organic and fair-trade. I roast all of my own coffee beans. And all of our baked goodies are home-baked. We are just very DIY.

This is an unusual place to find a coffee cart. Why Magnolia Gift & Garden?

We were inspired by this place called Flowerland in Albany—they’re a nursery. We wanted to bring that same archetype here. This was by far our favorite nursery in town, and we approached them and asked if we could fill a spot for them and hopefully enhance the experience here. We want people to kind of unwind here. We want to have real interactions, conversations. I didn’t want to just be a place where people grab a cup of coffee and go. Of course, we’re here if people want that. But I want to make connections with people. We have [tables and chairs]—we want people to come out and enjoy the garden. I tell everyone we have the best view in Chico. We have dog treats—we’re pet-friendly.

How did you learn to roast coffee beans and make drinks?

I was actually what they call a barista before it was ever called that, about 20 years back. That’s actually where I met my wife was at a cafe. So, again, we made a certain connection over coffee so we’re hoping to expand on that. I worked at a French cafe in Danville and I’m sort of a Francophile at heart. Romantically, I love what they do—it’s moreso with purpose than Westerners. They have a love for food. There’s little pretense behind it all.

Why the big move?

We were ready to scale back a little and simplify things. We don’t have tremendous overhead, it’s just my wife and I doing everything. We don’t plan to expand or even have employees. We just want to keep the integrity of our product really high.

You also book music in town?

Yeah, I’m just trying to multitask and hopefully enhance the cultural experience in Chico. We just love the collaborative atmosphere here, versus the combative way of the Bay Area.