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It’s no cakewalk starting up a small business in San Francisco. And Ariana Akbar of Hearth Coffee Roasters knows it.

“Most sane folks would think it’s too much work for the amount of risk,” Hearth Coffee principal tells My Castro. “Unless you’ve opened a small business it’s hard to understand the amount of work, headache, and heartache have to go through just to open the door.”

All the same, Akbar and Company are thrilled to expand their small beverage-and-food-pairing empire into the Castro District.

Moving to the Castro is important to Akbar, who has roots in the vibrant neighborhood: Her mother was a nurse at the Castro Health Center for 25 years and was so happy to have found a new home for Hearth in a close locale. “I grew up here, and we love this neighborhood,” she explained. “We are so impressed with the strength of the local community… We are happy to be moving into a neighborhood that appreciates the unique element that individual small businesses bring to the community.”

But a neighborhood that loves its small businesses isn’t just what makes the Castro a perfect new home for Hearth Coffee Roasters. The hubs in the area are known for serving food that is as innovative as it is delicious.

Hearth is more than just a spot to grab coffee and a pastry—although, don’t get us wrong, the in-house-roasted coffee is scrumptious. What sets Hearth apart from the competition is its pairings between the food and drinks.

“Our coffee service, which is a twist on old-fashioned tea service, will allow us to offer a unique tasting experience, “Akbar emphasized, “elevating the role of coffee as a flavor partner to food. We also offer a great selection of beers and wine carefully paired with small plates.”

And all of you readers know how much My Castro loves small plates paired with great sips.

So the next question, of course, is: What should we order on our first visit to Hearth Coffee Roasters at its new Castro location?

Akbar recommends ordering their Ethiopian coffee, and drinking it black. Pair the strong brew with the flavorful prosciutto and cheese roll. Craving something around cocktail hour? We are told that a glass of Sauternes—a sweet French wine—compliments Hearth’s jasmine tapioca: jasmine green tea panna cotta with lemon cream, vanilla tapioca pearls and candied ginger.

Hungry yet? We certainly are.

Hearth Coffee Roasters is preparing to open its doors in October at 3985 17th Street at Castro.