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‘Coffee Girl’ serves up friendship, treats

Chocolate croissant brings ‘em into Bean & Leaf Café

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‘Coffee Girl’ serves up friendship, treats

"Coffee Girl" Heather Elkins sits at her coffee bar where she welcomes her early morning regulars.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED March 20, 2009 5:25 a.m.
“Hey, coffee girl!”

That greeting has a warm and familiar ring as customers call out to Heather Elkins as they enter her Bean & Leaf coffee shop in the early morning hours.   The coffee stop is in the Raley’s Shopping Center at Union and Lathrop roads.

Everywhere she goes in the community, she hears that same greeting from her customers, “Hey, coffee girl!”

Heather says business is good even with her competing Starbucks only several doors away.

The favorite chocolate croissant is her own creation from years ago.  She first worked there when she was just 19, starting the day the first owners were getting ready to open – that was in 1996.

She took part in the painting and carpentry work side-by-side with her new employers.  Today she owns the shop after working at other places in the country including Stockton and San Francisco.

Without a doubt, Heather is a people person who has brought a touch of Bay Area coffee shops to her Bean & Leaf in Manteca.

She remembers members of the community from her past including Mrs. Talcot who was her kindergarten teacher and also a sixth-grade teacher who comes into her shop regularly.
With a solemn nod she said she saw a notice in the newspaper that her third grade teacher – Mr. Knepp – had passed away recently.

“All my former teachers come in here – I remember all my teachers,” she said.

In 2003 she built a new house in San Francisco and had just moved in when the chance to purchase the coffee shop was presented to her.

She said her sister Erica worked for Bean & Leaf for years, working as the assistant manager. She helps out here when I need her – in addition to her four employees.

“It’s getting busier every day.  I make all the salads and all the dressing,” she said.

Heather added that there are Starbucks coffee houses everywhere, but there are plenty of “moms and pops” still existing.

What she says is worth the wait are her bagel chips – something they spend all day creating.

When she was away from Manteca, Heather worked on a cruise ship out of Hawaii and spent some time in Louisiana working for CC’s Pizza.  “I’m very particular in doing things my way,” she said.  The shop received “Best of Manteca” honors in 2007.

Beans & Leaf is the oldest existing coffee shop in Manteca, she said.  Cup o’ Joe opened two weeks before they did, however they are no longer in operation.

She is bringing an “artist of the month” to her shop on a regular basis along with adding a bulletin board she hopes will reflect different cultures.

The coffee shop is also bringing entertainment for its evening customers.  Calvin McLauren, a retired professional saxophone player, is the upcoming guest.  Justin Jones’ “209 Allstars” on their guitars were the musicians last month.  They will serve as a backup for McLauren.

“I want to give a taste of the city – but not overwhelming,” she said.

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