Kaleidoscope Coffee and its customers pep up frontline workers

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Kaleidoscope Coffee set to open renovated backyard next month
Kaleidoscope Coffee is located at 109 Park Place in Point Richmond.

By Mike Kinney

A popular Point Richmond coffee shop can’t open its doors during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, but its owner and her customers have opened their hearts for frontline workers.

Starting March 20, Cassie Cushing, owner of Kaleidoscope Coffee in Point Richmond, has been delivering her shop’s coffee in the mornings and afternoons to Kaiser Richmond. She’s also delivered coffee to local fire stations. Donation drop-offs have typically included two pots of coffee to pep up critical frontline workers.

Cushing says she isn’t doing this alone. Following the shelter-in-place order, she began offering customers the option to buy a “cup” of coffee for $3 or a whole pot for $30.

“We keep track of how many ‘cups’ have been sold, and when we have enough, they get turned into a pot of coffee that we brew up and deliver,” Cushing said.

Some customers have additionally donated medical and N-95 masks for Cushing to deliver.

Cushing said she got the idea while “flipping through my Instagram feed” shortly after the initial shelter-in-place order was made.

“I saw that Andy Town Coffee over in the Sunset [District of San Francisco] was doing a similar thing, and I thought, what a great idea!,” Cushing said. 

An EMT who is a Kaleidoscope Coffee regular thought it was a great idea, too, and even helped out in the first couple of drop-offs “since he had a bit better lay-of-the-land, so to speak,” Cushing said. 

“Initially, I had hoped it would just allow me to use up some of our extra coffee while it was still fresh, given that business had slowed considerably and we had a lot of beans,” she said. “The community response and participation was enthusiastic, the medical workers were deeply grateful, and before I knew, I was ordering more beans to keep the program going.”

Following the latest, most restrictive shelter-in-place order yet on April 2, Cushing has had to shift gears since her shop is no longer open even for regular take-out orders. 

“We are working quickly to get a new website up and running with an online shop that, among other things, would allow customers to purchase cups and pots from the comfort, safety and social distance of their own home,” she said.

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