The owners of Jedidiah Coffee talk about their soon-to-open cafe, the meaning behind their business name and what they love about Laguna.
By Sharon Stello
Jedidiah Coffee, which has been roasting its own coffee in Laguna Canyon for the past few years, is preparing to open a coffee shop at Jasmine Street and North Coast Highway by September or October; construction was expected to start this summer with a Kickstarter.com fund drive running through mid-August to help with design and build-out costs.
“We have a roasting studio in the canyon. … We currently have ‘sip and shop’ hours open to the public, and are simultaneously working hard to open our brick-and-mortar cafe,” says Embry Munsey, who owns the business with her husband, Steve.
“… We have dreamt and planned of this space for a long time, and there has never been a doubt that the most important aspect will be an overwhelming sense of home to everyone that comes through our doors. … Our main goal is to filter the entire space through a family-friendly feel and design.”
Indeed, family is important to the Munseys. The couple even named their business in memory of their stillborn son, Jedidiah. “We lost Jedidiah when I was 39 weeks pregnant in July of 2011—the complete shock of our lives,” Embry says. “We lost Jed two weeks after talking to a local investor about opening a local coffee shop, which we ultimately put on hold.”
After this devastating loss, they moved to Texas—where she grew up—to be closer to family and, eventually, decided it was time to get back into the coffee business. “A family friend that was helping us … suggested we relaunch as Jedidiah Coffee in honor of our late son. Hesitant at first, we knew ultimately we would love honoring his legacy and sharing our story in this way,” Embry says.
When the couple returned to Laguna in 2019, they brought the business with them. They roast craft coffee from countries like Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Mexico. For example, the Ethiopian beans come from Gigesa, a small town in the Guji Zone where coffee cherries are washed and dried after being collected from 850 area growers.
“From a flavor and quality standpoint, … [our coffee is] definitely different from the mainstream, mass-produced coffee out there,” Steve says. “The coffee we source and roast is high quality—from the actual fruit off the tree to the time and attention we put into the small-batch craft roasting. We work hard to not overcook the coffee, but to instead really bring out the natural sweetness and vibrant flavors that are unique to each region and variety.”
Additionally, the company also does coffee catering for events, whipping up specialty drinks like pepper-infused Spicy Girl Coffee for a wedding at the bride’s request or rose-vanilla lattes and lavender mochas for a Mother’s Day treat at a church.
Steve first got into the coffee world as a barista for Starbucks in 2004, which turned into a six-year venture with the company, allowing him to realize his passion for this industry. He also briefly worked as a store manager at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to gain additional experience.
“Ultimately, I was encouraged by my regular customers and local friends to start my own coffee company, which led to doing just that in 2011,” says Steve, who launched the business with his wife in OC with the intent to open a cafe. “What made us want to start our own company was our shared love and passion for community and hospitality.”
The couple live in Laguna with their two sons, Zealan, 15, and Gideon, 9, and daughter, Liberty, 7.
Laguna Beach Magazine: Why do you love coffee?
Steve Munsey: I look forward to starting my day off right—which, to me, is with a slow cup of coffee. The ritual, the flavor experience, seriously everything about it. … I love the heart and collaborative spirit in the coffee industry as well. The craft and dedication of coffee farming—it’s honestly humbling to be a part of it all.
What do you like about living and working in Laguna Beach?
Embry Munsey: Honestly, there is really nothing to not love. Laguna is beautiful inside and out, and after all these years, it feels surreal for Jedidiah Coffee to be a household name here. Just about everything we do is within a few miles. We can’t complain.
Any favorite local restaurants?
EM: Gina’s Pizza, Wahoo’s Fish Taco, The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove State Park and Gelato Paradiso have been our go-tos for over 15 years, and all hold many memories.
What inspires you?
EM: We both are most inspired when we’re in nature, particularly the ocean. People that have faced loss and pain and still somehow exude kindness and selflessness leave a huge mark on us both. … Inspiration is always around; we just have to quiet our minds to see and hear it.