When I first spoke to the owners of FourScore Coffee in January 2016, they had just closed their tiny Historic Roseville shop to make way for a vastly expanded and renovated space. “A month or two” was the initial timeline given to rebuild the original shop that customers would have described not as a hole in the wall, but, more literally, a wall with a hole in it.
Now seeing the newly re-opened space completed, it’s hard to believe the original shop included only an ordering counter on a wall that stood just a few feet from the front door and a narrow hallway that led to a small lounging room in the back of the store. In all, the project to make one large space out of the original shop and the building next door took an unexpected 14 months in a permit/demo/building process that felt excruciatingly long to co-owners Luke Noland and Jesse Mariut.
“Except for this wall separating the back from the front, everything is totally new,” said Noland as he described the details of the new space that include both modern and vintage touches, a long community table built of wood pulled from the building’s historic walls, and handsomely designed arches made of brick reclaimed from the K Street buildings demolished for the Golden 1 Center.
As Noland tells the story of the shop’s evolution from 2015 to now, he seems to live in the past, present, and future all at the same time. He speaks with relief of the surrealness of seeing the shop completed, while quite obviously looking forward with a this-is-just-the-beginning outlook that reflects on what he’s learned the last 14 months.
Abraham Lincoln comes up quite a bit, a not surprising reference since Lincoln was the inspiration behind the shop’s namesake. What started, though, as a nod to the street on which the shop is located has become what Noland calls a mantra and a mission for the shop with manifold parallels between who Lincoln was and what FourScore is.
“We want to emancipate people from the pretentious coffee culture,” said Noland, explaining in a Lincoln-esque spirit that FourScore chooses instead to focus on a welcoming atmosphere where are all people are equal and accepted, even if they don’t know what a geisha pour over is or they like cream in their coffee.
With that, FourScore’s aim is to lead people into drinking and making better coffee and, in doing so, defining an era and generation of coffee in their sphere of influence, just as Lincoln lead people and defined an era of American history.
“Lincoln was hip. He thought like a real hispter. He was cool, and tall and awkward and said a lot of things that inspired people,” Noland concluded of the president after mentioning other parallels that included dedication, sacrifice, and working toward something that’s bigger than yourself. “We stand on the shoulders of giants and we learn a lot from people who did things that were greater than what we’ve done and who inspire us to do greater things.”
Noland would be one to say it takes a great deal of inspiration to take on the task of entrepreneurship. Prior to opening the shop, he brought with him six years of experience as a barista and half ownership of FourScore’s coffee, Valiant Coffee. He said what prompted the birth of FourScore was nothing but raw, unfiltered desire by him and three other co-owners to try something new.
A couple years and a lot of hard work later, his advice to people thinking of opening their own business is “Dream. Pray. Plunge.”
“No matter where you are, you should be dreaming of something bigger,” said Noland, continuing, “and then, for me, it’s prayer. For a lot people, they don’t believe in God or they don’t count themselves religious, so you can replace prayer with ‘plan’ because there has to be a heart preparation for what you’re going to do.”
The dreaming, praying, and planning is where FourScore has been since it first opened. That’s its story thus far, its evolution. And, now, they are in what Noland calls the plunging phase.
“People ask me why I’m here so much and I say, ‘Dude, this is the plunging phase. This is where I’m diving in and I’m going to dive as deep as I can,’” said Noland. “To come out on the other side and to see this place busy, it just shows that the dreaming was good, the praying was good, the planning was good.”
In addition to providing great coffee in a relaxed space, impact is at the heart of what FourScore is about, not only in the world of Sacramento coffee, but also in hoping to be a catalyst for growth in Historic Roseville, where they’d like to see one thriving downtown connected by a walking bridge that does away with the separation of “Historic” and “Old” Roseville.
On a global level, FourScore sells items in the shop that help fight human trafficking and provide an obvious but perhaps easily forgotten economic impact on the lives of the coffee growers who supply our daily fix.
Noland uses social media to remind himself of the positive impact his business has on the 300 employees of the farm of which he and Mariut visited last year that sources their Nicaraguan, direct trade coffee.
“We’re Facebook friends with our farmer,” said Noland. “When I see it pop up that ‘Diego Chavarria liked your photo’ I’m like, this is crazy, this guy sees where his coffee is going now.”
To see for yourself where FourScore is going and to enjoy coffee from one of the few artisan coffee shops in Roseville, visit their shop at 327 Lincoln St, Roseville. Opened 6:30am-9pm Monday-Saturday, the renovated space has lots of seating and they are also known to host special “FourScore Sessions” featuring live music by local artists.
Photos by Bethany Harris