It's all come full circle for Martin Diedrich. Obviously best known as the founder of Diedrich Coffee Company in 1983 (it was later absorbed into the Taco Bell empire, and last month was sold out to Starbucks), he recently opened a single new shop in hopes of recapturing his dream of providing an intimate yet sophisticated community-based caf. Born on his family's coffee farm in Antigua, Guatemala, Martin has since become a wealthy man. His autographed photo still hangs on the wall of every Diedrich outlet in the OC—still, he says, he will be glad to see the original family business close for good. (He was forced out of a meaningful role in the company by corporate executives years ago.) And the new place, Kan Coffee? The one Martin named for his seven-year-old son? It is located right next door to the strip mall where Martin's father Carl began roasting beans in 1972. Not only that, Martin personally roasts all the beans at Kan Coffee in a machine invented by his brother and based on a hand-cranked roaster created by his father. Unlike the generic dark roast offered by, saaaaay, Starbucks, Martin seeks a lighter roast that perfectly suits the natural flavor of his beans. Kan Coffee's baristas (including Martin himself: he spends most afternoons behind the counter) are trained to draw thick, multi-hued crema from each shot of espresso and are schooled in latt art, so each cup is not only a gustatory delight but also a visual one. For all the care and attention that goes into each superior cup of Kan coffee, their prices are on par with the bigger coffee chains, and you don't have to feel guilty about the pleasures of imbibing because the Kan beans are packaged in bags made from recycled paper, not plastic. (The lack of airtight packaging doesn't matter since the beans are freshly roasted each week.) Plastic cups used for cold drinks are constructed from biodegradable cornstarch, and 75 percent of the coffee—100 percent of the espresso—originates in small organic farms from all around the world where workers earn a decent wage. "Whereas most other coffee stores just do it as a token, for me it's fundamental to my philosophy and world view," says Martin. "Whenever I hear somebody say they are giving back to the community, I always think they were probably taking more than they should have been in the first place." Maybe so. Mostly, we ... More >>>