Spotlight: Martina Nemling & Kristen Nelson, Owners of Modern Coffee

Downtown Berkeley Spotlight

Celebrating Our Community

Martina Nemling & Kristen Nelson

Owners of Modern Coffee– Now open across from Berkeley City College in the new Center Street Garage

Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Modern Coffee and how you guys got started.

We started Modern Coffee in October of 2009. Kristen and I had both worked for Peet’s for many years and had often talked about opening our own shop, where we could do things our way. While we knew a lot about coffee, we knew very little about running a business so it was definitely a leap of faith. Today, nine years in, we operate four shops, employee 20+ people, roast our own coffee and feel just as challenged and inspired as ever. 

What was the inspiration behind Modern Coffee?

Coffee shops have always been one of our favorite places to spend time. We love the energy, the smell of coffee, the sounds of conversation happening all around us, the sense of community. After working in the coffee industry for many years, we wanted to put our experience to work and create a space that reflected all of the things that we love about café culture. 

Creating a great cup of coffee is just half the battle. What else about Modern Coffee makes you guys a must stop?

We work hard to create a warm, welcoming environment and want our customers to enjoy the experience they have in our shops. We put a lot of effort into selecting great products and great staff. We make some delicious seasonal syrups (like lavender in the Spring and burnt cinnamon in the Fall) and carry some unique offerings like our Kashmiri green tea chai.

Is this Downtown Berkeley location in the Center Street garage your first in Berkeley?  How many other locations do you have?

Yes! This is our first shop in Berkeley. We have 3 shops in downtown Oakland.

Why did you choose downtown Berkeley?

We had the opportunity to collaborate with the folks at the Bike Station to create a shared space in the new Center Street Garage, which was a very exciting to us. Over the years, many of our customers have moved jobs or offices from downtown Oakland to downtown Berkeley and have asked if we were ever going to open a shop in Berkeley, and now we can tell them yes!

Special thank you to Martina Nemling for her time, expertise, and efforts in creating positive experiences in our community.

Head over to Modern Coffee to experience first-hand and tell us what you think!


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