Philz on College Avenue. Photo: Kate Williams
The line spilled out the door for the grand opening of Philz Coffee on College Avenue on March 31. Photo: Kate Williams

The third East Bay location of Philz Coffee is officially open for business. The College Avenue location in the new Safeway complex threw a soft opening party Tuesday as a welcoming gesture to the neighborhood, with the full management staff, including founder Phil Jaber, in attendance.

Philz, founded in 2003, has been opening new locations at a rapid clip over the past year; it opened on Gilman Street last summer and it held a grand opening for a Redwood City location last month. And, according to TechCrunch, Philz recently closed on $15 million in funding in order to expand operations beyond California. CEO Jacob Jaber told TechCrunch that he plans to open at least 10 more locations nationwide by the end of the year.

The College Avenue Philz joins the Gourmet Ghetto and Gilman District shops in the East Bay. It is part of the new Safeway shopping complex, and will soon be joined by C.R.E.AM., the popular cookie and ice cream shop.

There was already a line out the door at the 11 a.m. start time, and guests snapped selfies with the friendly Jaber as they waited for drinks and snacks.

Philz on College Avenue. Photo: Kate Williams
Philz Coffee on College Avenue was packed during its grand opening party on March 31. Photo: Kate Williams

As with each of locations, the College Avenue Philz was designed to fit in with the surrounding environment. The interior is slick, with blue-grey walls, abundant windows, and a minimal white and grey coffee bar. There’s a single long communal table for laptop-ers, and a few benches and seats for chatting.

But as Jaber says, the most important part of each Philz location is the coffee service. He says that each Philz has the same menu so that each expansion can help them continue to be better and better at what they do.

As Philz fans know, this means making each cup of coffee to order by hand with milk and sweeteners, if desired. The process is similar to that of pour-overs at smaller, niche coffee shops, but Philz operates at a larger scale, and serves dozens of blends and flavors. A key aspect of the Philz experience is also its service; each barista is instructed to make sure that every customer is completely satisfied with his or her coffee, and to do it in a friendly, welcoming manner. Indeed, the staffers working the party were all smiles, even as they tended to the never ending line.

Philz joins Peet’s, Cole Coffee and Starbucks on this one-block stretch of College Avenue, and while the crowd at the opening seemed to be happy for the addition, the entire new Safeway complex has been the subject of concern. Commenters on this story, Facebook and Twitter have expressed their support for Cole Coffee, which is directly across the street from Philz.

Philz Coffee is at 6310 College Ave. (at Claremont Avenue), Oakland. Connect with the coffee shop on Facebook and Twitter.

Story has been amended to reflect additional comments from the community.

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Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...