The sweet leaf
Has Beans Coffee and Tea Co. is a coffee house rooted in tolerance
A few places in Chico still reek of tolerance; none more than Has Beans Coffee and Tea Co.
The first Has Beans Coffee House was located on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. Owner and operator Willem Vonk began working at the coffee house in 1989 and eventually became a co-owner before moving the operation to Mt. Shasta in 1994. Roasting his own beans as well as embracing his clientele, rich or poor, the Dutchman stayed true to his roots. In 2000 he opened his first Has Beans here in Chico. You’ve seen it—the place on the corner of Fifth and Main where drifters and lawyers can sit in the same coffee house, and deal with it.
“I have always maintained the same policy since San Francisco,” Vonk said. “I stay true to the coffee shop, where the beatniks, the poets, the businessmen, anybody can come, you know, the broad spectrum.”
This policy that Vonk describes manifests itself throughout the whole operation. Just introduce yourself to assistant manager Dan Whelan, and you will see how he can relate to just about any soul, lost or content. The coffee house is also a place to see the work of local artists and check out the weekly slam poetry and open mic nights.
Has Beans’ coffee is made right here in Chico. It is a true quality coffee with a smooth taste. A straight 12-ounce cup of Joe runs $1. The more elaborate coffees are whipped up with love: lattes (small $2.35), cappuccinos ($2.35) and Americanos ($1.60). The list goes on and on. Has Beans also serves up Oregon and Chico chai (small $2.35). A vast list of green teas (loose-leaf) include jasmine, gunpowder, China oolong, and Darjeeling. Fresh Black teas are also available, as well as traditional tea bags. A cup of tea costs $1.85, which is the deal-io because you pay the same no matter your tea of choice.
All of the loose-leaf teas and coffees are sold in bulk as well. The Italian roast, dark French, organic house, fair-trade Mexican and Sumatra Mandheling are some of my favorites. The bulk coffee prices range from $5 to $6 per half-pound. Iced coffees, Italian sodas and smoothies are also available.
The candy at Has Beans is akin to the gourmet licorice and treats you get at the drugstores along waterways in Amsterdam. Drugstores (apotheek) in Holland have been selling licorice for years. These sweet relics started as herbal remedies and continue to be devoured. Has Beans also has other gourmet candies, including chocolate-covered espresso beans, ultimate malt-balls, Swedish fish and chocolate-covered gummy bears.
The candy is imported from Germany, France and, of course, Holland. A half-pound of soft licorice cats will set you back $3.50. The other bulk candies are in the same price range.
Margaret Allison heads up the baking—preparing orange-cranberry bread, pecan pie bars, cinnamon walnut sour cream coffee cake and an occasional “Saucijen Broodge” Dutch sausage roll, and more ($2 per fair share). The baked treats are as sweet as the hard work Allison puts into them. The bakery is located at the new coffee house on Humboldt Avenue, right in front of the Boucher Bridge that enters into Chapmantown.
Leave it to Vonk to put a coffee shop right at the mouth of Chico’s most diverse neighborhood. It’s as cool as can be—a small two-tabled establishment with a patio, donning glass-blown lamps and a Bohemian feel. Where else will you find a cool cat like local drummer Sidiki Diallo, a Senegal native with a smile as wide as Little Chico Creek in the rainy season?
I love getting up in the morning, walking two short blocks, and sipping my coffee in a place that is diverse, laid back and imaginative—a sweet break from a world going mad.