Tucked in the alleyway by UC Berkeley's Unit 3 residence hall, SoDoI Coffee Tasting House is a comforting cafe, perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of Telegraph Ave. This beloved study spot features eye-catching decorations such as theater lights, a boat, a surfboard, and a wall covered with Post-it notes of people's dreams. It even has bright orange, floor-to-ceiling murals of the coffee house’s three founding principles:

1) Never give up

2) Always be truthful

3) Love Life

The People Behind SoDoI

Jonathan Hooshim

The mural includes a painting of founder Jae Chung among inspirational historical icons Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Elizabeth Shepping. Chung's response to their devotion toward making the world a better place is “So do I." The former tech/VC mogul first fell in love with coffee while studying architecture in Germany. After moving away from the finance industry to follow his passion, Jae founded SoDoI in 2012 with the mission of building community and inspiring others—just like how a great pour-over can unlock the delicious potential in a coffee bean.

A Carefully Crafted Community Cafe

Jonathan Hooshim

Jae’s spirit has seeped into everything that makes the cafe what it is—from the decorations to the employees at SoDoI. The rolling waves on the murals represent the waves of life, which Jae believes anyone can weather if they hold SoDoI’s 3 founding principles close to their heart. The theater lights, dingy boat, and antique stoves were all repurposed, as Jae saw potential to give them a new life. From the hand-delivered drinks to the genuine conversations between baristas and guests, SoDoI exudes a welcoming, family-like environment. SoDol barista Angeline Liu recalls how Jae and his wife Janice's commitment to engaging with the local community influenced her to start working at the cafe last spring.

“I wasn’t looking for a job when I came to SoDoI—I just wanted to try new coffee places," Angeline told us. "When I sat down, Jae came up and started talking to me. After telling him that I was minoring in food systems, he told me about the coffee industry and made pour-overs for me to taste. Janice is always incredibly welcoming and is there every day to train and lead all of us."

Pour-Over Tasting

Jonathan Hooshim

Angeline hosted the same pour-over tasting for us, expertly walking through the triple brewing process. We tasted SoDoI's three most popular blends, starting with The Memory of Arashiyama. We fell in love with the acidic light roast’s floral notes inspired by the bamboo forest of Arashiyama, a district near Kyoto, Japan. Next, we sampled the medium blend, Open Your Heart. The silky and sweet blend was the perfect morning pick-me-up. We finished off the trio with My Dream, My Coffee, a chocolatey, dark roast that will certainly start your day off strong.

Fan Favorites

Jonathan Hooshim

Lastly, we were treated to my personal favorite: the Red Velvet Latte. The beautiful latte art perfectly complemented the latte’s sweet cupcake flavor; I ended up taking two to go! Other fan favorites for those who don’t drink coffee include the matcha latte, iced yuzu tea, and London fog. 

Stop by SoDoI

Jonathan Hooshim

After learning about the story behind SoDoI (and having my fair share of caffeine), I felt refreshed and inspired. Be sure to stop by SoDoI for a delicious brew of inspiration and community.

To get a better taste of SoDoI's story for yourself, check out @sodoicoffee on Instagram, Sodoi Coffee Tasting House on Facebook, and at sodoicoffee.com.