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Music with a message

Orchestra performance in Irvine aims to raise awareness of breast cancer. A bonus: Urth Caffe, which plans to open in Laguna Beach, will offer samples.

January 21, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Maestro Daniel Suk poses for a portrait in front of the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Friday. Suk will conduct Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" during Dream Orchestra's 2014 concert at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Jan. 25.
Maestro Daniel Suk poses for a portrait in front of the… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

On Saturday, the Irvine Barclay Theatre will be the site of classical music — and caffeine.

Organic coffee company Urth Caffe is coming to Laguna Beach in the summer. But married co-owners Shallom and Jilla Berkman plan to introduce their product at the performing arts center this weekend.

The store has a loyal following at its locations in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Pasadena and elsewhere. Now it's Orange County's turn to get a taste of its custom coffee and tea: Each patron of the Barclay performance will be given a packet to take home.

"The Dream Blend is a special blend of reserve, organically grown, heirloom coffee bean roasted fresh by Urth Caffe — it will only be available complimentary to the guests of this concert — and it is from our exclusive East African sources [in Uganda and Ethiopia]," said Shallom, 44, of Beverly Hills.

The coffee, he added, is "aromatic and naturally low in acid, making it smooth and easy to digest," while the Dream Tea is made from certified organically grown green tea from Kyoto, Japan, and scented with cold pressed Earl Grey flavors.

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Jilla was drawn to coffee production during the year she spent in France before moving to the United States. Once here, she fused her interest with Shallom's desire to run his own business — and Urth Caffe materialized. The company debuted as a mail order catalog in 1989, and its first café was established in Manhattan Beach two years later.

Now, Urth has more than 300 full-time employees, 8,000 daily guests and a new site in Tokyo.

Customers have long demanded an Orange County store, Shallom said, adding that his family feels honored that a spot that housed a popular restaurant for 80 years will be the new Urth home.

"We have received overwhelming support. The only complaint has been, 'Why can't you open faster?'" he said. "We plan to restore the Cottage Restaurant to its original splendor. It is a gem, a California craftsman bungalow with Japanese accents and sprawling outdoor patios with ocean views."

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'Everything for this art'

Urth Caffe's Dream giveaways will commemorate the performance by Los Angeles-based Dream Orchestra, 60 professional musicians who trace their roots to China, Italy, Portugal and Korea. Its inaugural Irvine show starts at 7:30 p.m.

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