- Facebook‘s Menlo Park campus has its own Saint Frank Coffee location.
- Saint Frank Coffee is a San Francisco-based specialty coffee business.
- Business Insider spoke to two Saint Frank baristas about what it’s like to work at the Menlo Park café.
But a good number of Facebook employees don’t opt for a free cup of coffee in the morning. Instead, they head to Saint Frank Coffee, a café nestled on the border of Zone 3 and Zone 4 in MPK 20.
Saint Frank Coffee is a specialty coffee chain that operates two other locations in San Francisco. It’s even got a daughter venture: St. Clare Coffee. On Yelp, the chain’s Russian Hill location’s price range is listed as “under $US10,” while its SoMa roastery’s price range is listed as “moderate.”
According to barista Cris Mendoza, Saint Frank was initially supposed to just operate a cart on Facebook’s lush rooftop park. But in July 2016, Saint Frank opened up a new location in the belly of the tech company. As a result, the Menlo Park Saint Frank location is only accessible to Facebook employees and their guests.
Business Insider spoke with Mendoza and his fellow barista Jason Yeo about what it’s like to work at Saint Frank’s Menlo Park café.
Here’s what they had to say:
Facebook and Saint Frank share more than a location.
Facebook may be a tech powerhouse and Saint Frank may focus on crafting high quality coffees, but the two entities have a few things in common in terms of their stated company values.
Facebook’s mission statement is to “bring the world closer together.” Saint Frank, on the other hand, is named for both its hometown of San Francisco, and St. Francis of Assisi.
“Saint Francis had a passion for life and connection with people and the world around him in a way that shapes our direction in coffee and service,” the company’s website reads.
Mendoza said that Saint Frank Coffee founder and owner Kevin Bohlin is drawn to the writings of St. Francis, namely “the idea that everybody has value, everybody matters.” He said that everything about Saint Frank is built to reflect that philosophy. He said that Saint Frank works to forge close relationships with its coffee producers in Guatemala, Honduras, and Kenya.
“We want to value the people in every aspect of the supply chain within coffee,” Yeo told Business Insider. “That means honouring the farmers who put in a lot of hard, labour-intensive work toward the product that they’re producing for us.”
Mendoza said the coffee business operates with the goal of “making this huge world smaller in little ways” – like sharing a cup of coffee.
Facebook employees order between 350 and 450 drinks a day at Saint Frank.
Saint Frank is open every week day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Baristas have three shifts to choose between: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The line typically swells in the morning, as Facebook employees swing by to grab their daily pick-me-up. Facebook product manager Merlyn Deng previously told Business Insider that she always makes a pit stop at Saint Frank.
“It’s the best coffee that you’ll get in Menlo Park,” she told Business Insider.
After lunch, more people convene by Saint Frank for small or one-on-one meetings and interviews.
“People like to come here because it feels like you’re not quite at work,” Mendoza said. “It feels a little bit separate from that.”
Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually packed. Wednesdays are quieter, thanks to Facebook’s tradition of allowing “work from home” Wednesdays. Mendoza said that the team fixes anywhere between 350 to 450 drinks on an average day.
Saint Frank handles orders a bit like Chipotle.
Saint Frank’s Menlo Park location isn’t the biggest café – but Mendoza said it’s one of the fastest of its size.
He said that he’s seen three Saint Frank baristas “crush” 25-person lines “in less than 14 minutes.”
According to Mendoza, the secret ingredients are teamwork and a well-designed café.
“When I go to other cafes, a lot of times they will have someone on the register – taking money, greeting customers, and ringing stuff up,” he said. “Here, everybody’s hands are involved in making the drink. You don’t have someone just standing there. We maximise staffing and efficiency.”
Saint Frank doesn’t hand out tickets, either.
“You don’t order at the register, have someone ring you up and walk away,” Mendoza said. “You kind of hang out for the whole process.”
Mendoza and Yeo both said that the process is a bit more humanising for both the barista and the customer.
“We have a company saying: ‘We don’t serve coffee, we serve people,'” Yeo said.
But Mendoza said this specialised attention to each order doesn’t slow things down.
“Some people are like, ‘Wow, that was really fast. I love your guys’ ordering process. It’s very efficient,'” he added. “I joke around with them, ‘Yeah, it’s kind of like Chipotle, right?'”
Saint Frank employees get to enjoy certain Facebook perks.
Saint Frank baristas have badges that allow them to gain access to Facebook’s campus, and a number of the tech giant’s famous benefits.
Baristas can ride Facebook’s daily shuttles between San Francisco and Menlo Park. They also don’t have to worry about mopping the floors of the café every night – Facebook’s custodial staff will take care of that.
But the most tempting perk that Mendoza and Yeo talked about was Facebook’s free cafeteria.
“It’s pretty great slash pretty dangerous,” Mendoza said, of the free food. “Facebook 15 – it’s a thing. I’ve confirmed it, it’s real.”
“I think it’s been closer to the Facebook 50 for me,” Yeo added.
At Facebook, coffee tastes tend to skew more traditional.
So what’s the coffee culture at Facebook like?
“Classic,” “simple,” and “traditional” are all words that come to mind, according to the baristas.
“If you were to sort of average out the type of sale that we make, it’s definitely simple espresso-based beverages like lattes, cappuccinos, and cortados,” Yeo said.
Mendoza added that Saint Frank beverages tend to be bigger and feature more coffee than those at other specialty cafés. For example, he said that most coffee spots that he’s been to in California will add an ounce of espresso to a drink. At Saint Frank, you’re getting two ounces.
“We do have a good amount of customers who will actually order singles to kind of mitigate that,” he said.
While most Saint Frank regulars reach for lattes, cappuccinos, and cortados first thing in the morning, other orders have attracted a following. Mendoza cited Saint Frank’s “creamy and great” espresso milkshake, made with Straus organic vanilla ice cream, while Yeo said that the Menlo Park-exclusive nitro iced coffee order was also popular.
Another non-coffee option with a fanbase is the café’s almond macadamia milk, which is made in-house. Mendoza said it’s a sought-after non-dairy option for lattes.
Saint Frank’s Menlo Park location is home to a few exclusive beverages.
Saint Frank’s Facebook café has a few drinks up its sleeve that aren’t available at its other locations.
“We also have a handful of people who like to order from our Facebook exclusive menu and enjoy that,” Yeo said.
That makes sense, given that the Menlo Park location is the chain’s “experimental lab,” where baristas whip up new syrups and drinks.
“We like to really get into what makes things taste the way they do,” Mendoza said.
The Menlo Park café is also the only Saint Frank spot to have nitro iced coffee, largely thanks to its location. At other cafés, Mendoza said it’s become “a Saint Frank signature” to short out the electricity.
“This cafe has lent us the capability to have a kegerator in the middle,” Mendoza said. “We have nitro iced coffee on tap. It comes out creamy and velvety, kind of like a Guinness Stout.”
Yeo mentioned the chain’s Nashville iced tea – sparkling iced tea with tonic water – as well as the Café Nico – orange cinnamon vanilla syrup mixed up with espresso and steamed milk.
“That’s been a huge hit among people who visit in the afternoons, just because it’s short and sweet – literally and figuratively,” Yeo said.
According to baristas, customers and colleagues are the best parts of working at Saint Frank.
Both Yeo and Mendoza listed their customers, colleagues, and Saint Frank’s overall work environment as the best parts of the job.
“With Facebook, we kind of serve a small pool of customers, but we also get to serve the same customers over and over again,” Mendoza said. “We’ve gotten to develop this incredible rapport and relationship with some of these people.”
Yeo said that he’s particularly struck by the fact that Facebook’s Saint Frank regulars stop by to purchase coffee and leave tips, despite the fact that they have access to free – and, in his opinion, perfectly respectable – coffee in the cafeteria.
“It’s because they appreciate the quality of the coffee, of course, but also they love having conversations with us,” he said. “For us it’s very meaningful to carry on those conversations with them. Sometimes, it’s not even about coffee. It’s about how their week’s going, what they’re up to for the holidays.”
Mendoza said that he enjoys exchanging stories with Facebook employees, and hearing about their “cool adventures.”
“Not to sound unprofessional but they’re definitely our regulars and our guests and our customers, but they’re also our friends a lot of the time, which is really precious to me,” Mendoza said.
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