Brewing up a stellar success

The new MoonGoat cafe at UCI Research Park draws a mix of UC Irvine students, workers from the research park’s 90 companies and local families, according to co-founder Mark Evans and President David Yardley.

Word-of-mouth spread before MoonGoat Coffee even opened its doors at UCI Research Park.

“Here’s the cool thing,” says co-founder Mark Evans, a former surfer and musician. “We were still painting inside, and we had all these UCI kids rolling up, going, ‘Are you open yet?’ ”

Those students had been driving to another MoonGoat location for what’s been hailed as Orange County’s No. 1 coffee – and its “glad-you’re-here” vibe.

“We’d built a reputation, so once we opened the doors, we had an instant following,” Evans says. “Of our four locations, this was the fastest opening.”

Organic location

Evans got the idea for MoonGoat as a touring musician who fell in love with the mom-and-pop coffee shops across the U.S. and Europe.

“I was like, ‘We need to open something cool in Orange County that’s community-based,’ ” he says.

Evans and co-founder David Longridge started MoonGoat Coffee Roasters in 2018 – “Think of us as a microbrewery for coffee,” says company President David Yardley – and they now have four cafes in Orange County.

Their move to Irvine happened quite organically.

While catering a pop-up event for Irvine Company last year, Evans served some matcha tea, which he buys directly from an eighth-generation family of farmers in Japan.

“One of the top executives at the pop-up was like, ‘Wow! Who are you?’ And he starts telling everybody: ‘Get over here. These guys are great!’ ”

Shortly after, Irvine Company called Evans about a spot that had opened at UCI Research Park.

“The minute we saw it, we were like, ‘Yes!’ We didn’t even have to step inside,” Evans says.

Part of the neighborhood

The cafe seats about 50 people inside, with plenty of outlets for students to plug in laptops, and another 50-60 seats outside.

But students aren’t the only ones lifting cups of MoonGoat’s award-winning coffee, matcha, vegan mocha and signature mushroom chagaccino drinks.

“There’s a medical-device company next door that has like 300 employees, and I think they all come here,” Evans says.

In all, more than 90 companies at UCI Research Park keep things hopping, as well as nearby families in the neighborhood.

“People come up to me all the time, and they’re like, ‘Thank you for opening – we feel so comfortable here.’” Evans says. “And that makes me smile because we want to be part of the neighborhood.”