Kaleidoscope Coffee. Photo: Kate Williams
Kaleidoscope Coffee is now open in Point Richmond. Photo: Kate Williams

It’s taken many more months than expected and lots of hands-on work, but Cassie Cushing’s Kaleidoscope Coffee shop is now up and running in Point Richmond. The shop is currently in soft-opening mode with limited hours; Cushing is planning her grand opening for Dec. 5.

Kaleidoscope is a large, light-filled space, with distinctive hand-made touches. A sculptural archway of white pyramids encircles the coffee bar. Lampshades etched with scenes from fairytales hang from the ceiling near the front door. Large bean bags and antique furniture anchor a reading area that includes both used books for sale and a “take-one, leave-one” lending library. Mismatched coffee mugs add a pop of color and character to each table.

Cushing’s menu is still a work in progress. She’s pouring Wrecking Ball coffee and Steep Tea Co. teas, plus a small selection of wine and bottled beer. The beer menu in particular, she says, needs some work to become more focused on local brewers. (Today, she is serving Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada.) Kaleidoscope uses Endorfin chocolate in its mochas and hot chocolate. It also sells the Oakland-based chocolate by the bar.

Right now, most of the baked goods on offer come from Emeryville’s Bacano Bakery and are, as such, gluten-free. (Cushing is currently working on building out the gluten-filled section of the pastry case). There are also quiches from Quiche & Carry, brioche rolls from La Fleur de Lyon, and several house-made menu items like avocado toast, sandwiches and beet hummus. Cushing also nabbed a contract with Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, and Kaleidoscope has a full freezer of flavors for scooping.

Much of the bathroom wall at Kaleidoscope coffee is taken up by a blackboard. Photo: Kate Williams

But, as we’ve reported in the past, Kaleidoscope is more than a coffee shop. It is also a performance venue for storytellers, musicians and other artists. Cushing herself is a trained storyteller, so there is a focus on narrative arts throughout the shop. The bathroom, for example, is decked out with a large chalkboard, where guests have been sharing short, Twitter-esque tales and exclamations. (The board is currently full of calls for peace in the wake of the Paris attacks.)

Cushing has designed the space to be flexible enough to handle all kinds of performances. The bench seats in the dining area are actually made to fit together to form a moveable stage. She has also installed two separate sound systems — one that operates during regular coffee shop hours and one that is designed for performance.

The Dec. 5 grand opening will feature the shop’s first performers. Cushing has hired a few bands to play throughout the “laid-back” open house-style event. After the grand opening, she is planning on holding two open mic nights per week. One will be a traditional open mic, and the other will be focused on storytelling, with longer (10- to 15-minute) sets. Scheduled performances will follow.

Nosh visited Kaleidoscope late last week for a tour. Take a peek at our photos, below:

Kaleidoscope at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20. Photo: Kate Williams
The reading area features antique furniture and hand-made beanbags. Photo: Kate Williams
Kaleidoscope offers a lending library (yellow stickers) and used books for sale (green stickers). Owner Cassie Cushing plans to add newer books focused on storytelling in the future. Photo: Kate Williams
The baked goods at Kaleidoscope Coffee include substantial gluten-free options from Emeryville’s Bacano Bakery. Photo: Kate Williams
Pour-over coffee is available in addition to traditional drip and espresso. Photo: Kate Williams
Mismatched coffee cups add to the hand-made vibe. Photo: Kate Williams
Cushing made the sculptural ceiling art by hand. Photo: Kate Williams
Kaleidoscope uses Endorfin chocolate in its mochas and hot chocolate. It also sells the Oakland-based chocolate by the bar. Photo: Kate Williams
Whole Wrecking Ball coffee beans are available for sale. Photo: Kate Williams
Bulk looseleaf Steep Tea Co. teas are also available. Photo: Kate Williams
Eventually, all of the lampshades at Kaleidoscope will be decorated with scenes from different stories and fairytales. Photo: Kate Williams
Kaleidoscope coffee is in the historic Point Richmond neighborhood. Photo: Kate Williams

Kaleidoscope Coffee is at 109 Park Place (at Washington Avenue), Point Richmond. Currently open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays. Closed Sundays. After the grand opening, Kaleidoscope will stay open until 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Connect with the coffee shop on Facebook.

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Kate Williams

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...