WORDS & PHOTOS BY: ALELI MAY VUELTA
It’s a cool day in Long Beach, and Bobby and Correne Hernandez are seated in their newly open venture, Recreational Coffee.
The latest addition and the first third-wave coffee shop in downtown Long Beach, the coffee shop opened its doors two weeks ago and so far has been nothing but good vibes.
The name Recreational Coffee stems from Bobby’s previous background as a recreational therapist. As a therapist, he had a big emphasis on doing things you enjoy, and at the time, coffee was his recreational activity.
“I looked up the term ‘recreational’ in the dictionary and the second definition said ‘relating to a socially acceptable drug,’ and I was like, “Perfect, everyone loves coffee, it’s socially acceptable, it’s an unregulated drug,” says Bobby.
Bobby’s coffee hobby turned into an obsession to replicate one of the first “good” cups of coffee he ever had, which he remembers having at Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa.
“I had a really good cup of coffee once and decided to explore why that cup of coffee tasted so good and why mine at home sucked.”
His obsession led him to doing pop-up shops for a retailer over the span of a year and a half, and the success he had eventually led him to quitting his job and opening Recreational Coffee.
Opening a coffee shop was never the original plan for Bobby and Correne. The couple have always known they wanted to open a business, but never imagined it would revolve around coffee.
“It’s funny, coffee is not even my go-to drink. [But] I made a cup of coffee once,” says Correne.
“Yeah, it wasn’t that good,” says Bobby.
The couple consider themselves polar opposites. Correne’s mellow persona and love for numbers and budgets and Bobby’s hyper energy and passion for coffee and creativity balance each other out as partners in marriage and business.
“I’m very mellow,” says Correne.
“And I’m not. We’re opposites [but] it’s a good balance. It keeps me grounded and it keeps her energized.”
Bobby and Correne have been married for five and a half years, and have two boys: a one-year-old and a two-year-old. The couple met at Cal State Long Beach as freshman in Italian class.
At the time, Bobby was a Radiology major and Correne was undeclared. The two both explored a number of majors before Correne settled on Liberal Studies and Bobby landed on Recreation & Leisure.
“It’s funny because we’re not even doing it. It’s just how life is,” says Bobby.
The menu at Recreational Coffee is simple with quality over quantity in mind, consisting only of items Bobby messed with and absolutely loved. Everything is measured by the gram and made meticulously so that every customer has the same experience.
Bobby admits he gets nerdy about coffee and has set flow rates, ratios and temperatures in his coffee preparation. The shop avoids anything artificial, only using organic products or in-house syrups and only use coffee they blind evaluated and were mind blown over.
Take for example their newest seasonal item, the gingerbread latte.
The latte is made from a simple ginger syrup they made using real ginger, espresso, organic whole milk and topped with cinnamon. The smell is divine and it tastes just like Christmas.
Another must-try item on the menu is their affogato. Made with three scoops of organic, vanilla ice cream and espresso topped with espresso grounds and sea salt, the affogato is the perfect dessert for any part of day, including breakfast. It is a nice bridge for coffee lovers and non-coffee lovers (hello Correne) alike without compromising the taste or clarity of coffee.
Moving forward with the business, the couple want to create a multi-sensory experience for their customers. They always found one thing they loved about coffee shops they would visit over the years, but hope to bring it all together.
“Long Beach has a really cool coffee culture going on over here. It has a really inviting community for coffee. The community is awesome and they’re really supportive of small businesses here,” says Bobby.
From the visual and open space to high quality products and workers greeting you right when you walk through the door, Recreational Coffee aims to make an experience enjoyable for everyone.