Jen St.Hilaire, Owner & Roastmaster
Jen St.Hilaire grew up in Bellingham, Washington - City of Subdued Excitement. She was nurtured through her formative years on a well-rounded diet of Commodore 64, Atari 2600, Centipede, "voodoo economics", Barter's Drive-In, ABBA, Xanadu, and Shaun Cassidy. It was during this time that she also acquired a love of science fiction via Star Trek, Star Wars, Close Encounters, Bladerunner, Alien(s), and an obsession for video games which would catapult her into pursuing her original career choice of computer programming and video game design. Lack of opportunities for women in those careers at the time led her to tune-in, drop out & pursue other passions such as music, foreign languages, and other experiences that would forever change her life and give her the fortitude necessary to run her own business one day, like working in Alaska's fishing and crabbing industry.
After dropping out of college a second time, disillusioned with the rigid curriculum necessary to get a piece of paper which would likely lead to nothing but massive student loan debt, Jen signed on at Seattle's Espresso Vivace in 1995, upon realizing she'd been mistaken regarding the fundamentally bitter nature of coffee. She pursued roasting perfection there as head roaster and wholesale manager until she retired in 1999, relocating to the Bay Area to expand her opportunities as a rock musician. Shortly after, Jen consulted with longtime Vivace customer, Andrew Barnett, to help start his company, Ecco Caffe in Santa Rosa (now owned by Intelligentsia). Jen shared her roasting expertise with Ecco until 2005, when the band broke up, and she began to turn her attention to her own entrepreneurial aspirations. Today, Scarlet City Coffee Roasting and Espresso Bar are the manifestations of two decades' of experience in the specialty coffee industry, and a passion for both a complex, sweet cup of coffee and a more equitable, sustainable future.
Susanna Handow, Owner & Espresso Bar Manager
Susanna Handow grew up in the mid-western and southern areas of the country - in the sticks of Florida, with neighbors like John Travolta and other Scientologists; in Indiana, where her dear Granny nurtured her from her apron strings; and in Georgia, where her father introduced her to one of her all-time favorite bands, Queen, and the southern Savannah flavor gave her a passion/obsession with all things vampire. She bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco at age 19, and never looked back.
Since residing in the Bay Area, she worked at various pizza joints, restaurants, and coffeehouses, graduated from UC Berkeley with a focus in social sciences, worked for a law firm and a handful of non-profit organizations, then eventually found her way back to the service industry and love of customer relations through her experience with Jen's coffee. She supported Scarlet City from the wings, during its inception and startup years and joined the team as a full partner in 2011, taking on the role of Espresso Bar Manager and Number One.