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Portola Coffee Lab and other shops will be featured at Small Business Saturday

Owners Christa Duggan and husband Jeff Duggan run Portola Coffee Lab, located inside the OC Mix buil
Christa Duggan and husband Jeff Duggan run Portola Coffee Lab, which will be featured during Small Business Saturday on Nov. 19 at SOCO and the OC Mix in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Times OC)

Jeff and Christa Duggan are passionate about coffee — almost to the point of obsession.

That deep enthusiasm about the intricacies among coffee beans is what drove the husband and wife to open Portola Coffee Lab, which has taken root as a favorite among Orange County coffee drinkers who prefer an alternative to mass-produced java.

Portola, along with other Orange County businesses, will be featured Nov. 25 at Small Business Saturday at SOCO and the OC Mix.

In addition to the dozens of businesses that will be selling their products at the event, there will be raffles and live music. The Good Weekend, a pop-up shop movement, will offer shopping from sustainable brands and socially-conscious companies.

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Portola Coffee has amassed a strong following in the county, but like any other small business, its evolution was accompanied by hard work and sacrifice.

The idea grew out of Jeff Duggan’s longtime hobby of home-roasting coffee. But this wasn’t just a whimsical amusement. Jeff Duggan, 44, of Tustin researched and practiced the specifics of coffee-making like a scientist.

When Christa Duggan had to leave her longtime job about 10 years ago in the nonprofit industry to take care of their health-compromised newborn son, Gabe, they began talking about starting a business.

They opened the first Portola Coffee in 2009 in a small area of an Irvine bakery. Two years later, they opened their flagship store at SOCO and the OC Mix, 3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa.

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During the business’s infancy, Jeff Duggan balanced his longtime information technology job with the city of Los Angeles with the demands of a new company. As the sole coffee roaster in those days, he would leave work and roast through the night at the Costa Mesa location.

Now, the Duggans have six stores throughout Orange County.

Other than providing customers with brews, Christa Duggan believes the business is successful because county residents are beginning to shop at more local, mom-and-pop stores instead of at large companies.

“People are shopping at places where the owners have a face,” Christa Duggan said. “The general public is now more conscious of where they are shopping and choosing smaller stores rather than national chains. That’s awesome.”

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Claudia Stubin runs a kombucha and bone broth bar called Farm and Culture Co., located at SOCO and the OC Mix in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer )

Like the Duggans, Claudia Stubin, 44, of Huntington Beach aims to provide her customers with products while giving a face to her business.

Her store, Farm & Culture Co., which sells kombucha and bone broth, will also be featured at Small Business Saturday. The store, at SOCO and the OC Mix, serves these products in a small bar-like setting.

Similar to Jeff Duggan, Stubin began her business from her years-long hobby of crafting kombucha at her home. With the belief that the replenishing effects of bone broth and kombucha can change one’s life, she decided to start a business.

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Her store opened about two years ago.

Noting that some people may be averse to the taste of kombucha or bone broth, she said she puts great effort into making her flavors, something that sets her business apart from corporate chains.

But, it’s not just about providing healthy products for her customers. Stubin also takes joy in the relationships she forges with her customers.

“I care about my connection with the customers,” Stubin said. “I love when my regulars come in and share their life with me.”

Small Business Saturday is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 25 at SOCO and the OC Mix, 3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2mzqGMH.

benjamin.brazil@latimes.com

Twitter: @benbrazilpilot


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