There’s a black and white letter board above the cutlery station at Farm & Flour that reads: “They broke bread together in their homes with glad and sincere hearts.” (ACTS 2:46)
This simple verse brings to mind the notion of gathering with others, and invites one to consider the cafe—a light, airy space opened in August in the former Studio 41 location on First Street—a place to feel at home.
“My heart has always been in creating an experience and a place for people to connect,” says Farm & Flour’s owner Brett Benzer, who bakes the signature sourdough used for its toast-focused menu. “It’s so humbling to see that the community is aligned with what we’re doing.” Benzer, who grew up in Portland, Oregon and moved to the Bay Area during high school, drew inspiration for the cafe from States Coffee & Mercantile, the popular Martinez coffee shop he helped open in 2015 with owner Keith Gehrke. (The two are close friends and Benzer worked at States for three years.)
With a concept that pays homage to the past—the cafes are each housed in revamped brick buildings— while embracing modern craft culture, both States and Farm & Flour reflect a broader trend of celebrating time-honored traditions in new ways.
Sitting at one of Farm & Flour’s oak tables (custom made with locally-milled wood), waiting for my Brie Toast (with fig jam, walnuts, and arugula), I had the sense that every carefully-rendered detail, from the macramé wall hanging to the low key, just loud-enough music to the driedf lower art prints, was an effort to merge simplicity with sophistication. It’s almost too hip to feel homey, but the experience is entirely pleasant, even soothing, especially when you take your first sip of perfectly poured, utterly smooth States coffee, sold only at these two places on the planet.
“We select coffees to be approachable and comforting,” says Benzer. States works with a Healdsburg importer, Olam, to procure the beans (recent offerings came from Ethiopia and Guatemala), then roasts them onsite. A take home blend is available at Farm & Flour by the half pound.
Along with Brie Toast—tasty, fresh and beautifully arranged on a thick slice of bread, the apple vinaigrette-dressed arugula piled high—the Farm & Flour menu features several other open-faced offerings. For meat lovers, there’s Prosciutto with heirloom tomatoes and Pesto Chicken (the meat comes from Petaluma farms). Other options include Avocado, Summer Squash with hummus, Cashew Butter (with honey from a Benicia hive), Cream Cheese and Cinnamon Sugar. The fruit for their Seasonal Jam Toast is sourced from farmers markets or local farms, and their banana bread features olive oil from Monterey. (Pastries include a fudge brownie and brown butter chocolate chip cookie.)
If you want a sourdough loaf to take home, arrive early: around seven loaves are available daily, and they sell out fast. Farm & Flour is open daily 7am-4 pm. “Bread is such a craft and art—it’s the foundation of what we’re doing” says Benzer. “The fact that there’s a line out the door makes it so fulfilling.”
Farm & Flour
700 First St., Benicia