Cops and coffee shops usually go hand in hand, but for at least one cafe, a uniformed cop is considered persona non java.
It all started when an Oakland police sergeant stopped by Hasta Muerte Coffee in the Fruitvale District to introduce himself and to buy a cup. But the sergeant was denied service.
According to a letter sent to the cafe by the Oakland police union, cafe staff told the sergeant that it “does not serve the police. Obviously, this is both a surprise and a matter of concern for all Oakland police officers.”
Hasta Muerte Coffee at East 27th Street and Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland
It’s a surprise to many residents as well. “I don’t know what they got against them,” said Roberto Lopez.
Another resident, who wished only to be identified as “T,” agreed, saying, “I think it’s cold blooded. I don’t understand that.”
The cafe hasn’t responded to the police union’s letter sent two weeks ago requesting an explanation. Cafe managers declined to comment to KTVU.
But Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale District, spoke to cafe managers Thursday and confirmed it’s still the business’ unwritten policy not to serve the men and women in blue.
“My understanding is they’re not going to serve police officers,” Gallo said.
“I don’t agree with that, 100 percent,” Gallo added. “I think we need to work together, not against each other.”
The cafe opened several months ago at the corner of East 27th Street and Fruitvale Avenue. It isn’t your typical coffee shop. Its name is Spanish for “until death.”
It’s a worker-owned collective with a decidedly anti-establishment bent. A mural and utility box outside the cafe decriy fatal police shootings and law enforcement militarization.
In other words, it probably won’t host the next “Coffee with a Cop,” especially if it doesn’t serve cops.
“I don’t think it’s fair – they should,” said Mildred Jelks of Oakland. “They’re protecting them. If somebody breaks in there, who are they gonna call? The police.”
But Tenaya Gunter Brown, also an Oakland resident, disagreed.
“I think that if a group of people don’t feel safe with a police officer currently on duty, coming into a space, they want people in this neighborhood to be able to feel safe, coming into their space. then that is a choice they should be able to make.”
For now, uniformed officers with a caffeine fix will probably end up at the Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee up the street.