Downtown Condo Guys

Frank Green III (Courtesy photo)
Coffee, Beer, Entertainment, North Park, Point Loma, Encinitas

What Came First, the Hops or the Beans?
Frank Green III of Modern Times Gives Us the Answer

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

There is a kind of far-out grooviness built into the branding of Modern Times Beer + Coffee, a San Diego company that has spread its vibe around town with a trio of tasting rooms flaunting names that sound like something out of a 60s sci-fi movie. Those tasting rooms are found in North Park, Point Loma and Encinitas.

Since its founding in 2013, the company has also landed wholesale and retail accounts straight up the coast into Oregon and Washington as well as points east into Arizona and Utah. It currently employs nearly 100 people.

Frank Green III is Modern Times’ business development manager. He secured the job after rising through the ranks as a top salesman. In a recent chat, he gave us a peek into the company’s inner philosophy while sharing some surprising consumer trends pertaining of course to suds and java. He’s also in a band you may have heard about.

Downtown Condo Guys: What led you to this position at Modern Times?

Green: I was previously a sales rep for The Lost Abbey – their first-ever sales person. I was there for three years and had also worked for a few other breweries that are now defunct. When I was hired by Modern Times nine years ago, my title was ‘sales wizard.’ I was doing that for about five years and then became their area sales manager. The business development manager job started about a year and a half ago.

Downtown Condo Guys: What professional attributes helped you climb the ladder?

Green: Consistency as a top performer. I’ve also been big into our philanthropy by working with Balboa Park and the former Balboa Park Conservancy in doing events. I have a great working relationship with the Old Globe Theater and numerous other charitable organizations throughout San Diego, such as Feeding San Diego, the San Diego Opera, and The Animal Pad Dog Rescue. We try to work with as many places as we believe in.

Downtown Condo Guys: What is your main objective as business development manager?

Green: My primary role is to sell coffee wholesale. I’m not incentivized to sell beer, but I’ve brought beer along with me and have helped land some big deals. If it’s for the betterment of the company and my teammates, then I’m here to help.

Downtown Condo Guys: Did Modern Times start out as a brewery or a coffee roaster?

Green: They kind of started at the same time in Point Loma–first with four different beers. Coffee was in the making at that time but it was used only for one of those beers, which is an oatmeal coffee stout called Black House. The company didn’t do any wholesale coffee selling until after its first year in business.

Downtown Condo Guys: How many beers are in the current portfolio?

Green: We have 14 different beers; seven are year-round beers such Orderville and Fruitlands Gose. We also have a seasonal hazy IPA every spring, summer and fall.

Downtown Condo Guys: What have been the top-selling beers?

Green: The Orderville, which is our hazy IPA. It was the first hazy IPA to come onto the wholesale market in Southern California. The other is Fruitlands, which came around when sour beers came onto the market. It’s actually a lighter sour beer made with passionfruit and guava.

Downtown Condo Guys: What new brews might we see emerge this year?

Green: Our hazy mosaic IPA called Green Futures will be making a comeback. And for the first time to wholesale we’ll be putting out Dinosaur World in February. That’s a hazy double IPA.

Downtown Condo Guys: In what Modern Times venues can we enjoy the beers?

Green: We have three tasting rooms: the Modern Times Flavordome in North Park; the Lomaland Fermentorium in Point Loma (where the company started), and The Far West Lounge in Encinitas. We also have a partnership location downtown with Consortium Holdings called The Invigatorium. They serve our coffee exclusively and we helped design the space.

Downtown Condo Guys: Do the other tasting rooms serve Modern Times coffee as well? And what about food?

Green: You can get a hot coffee in Point Loma or Encinitas. And cold brew is served at all three. Out of courtesy we don’t serve hot coffee in the North Park Flavordome because we’re neighbors with Influx, and we pretty much share a patio with them.

As for food, we serve it only at the Encinitas location, where our kitchen is 100 percent vegan.

Downtown Condo Guys: The Flavordome in North Park is a standout to many people. How does it differ from the other tasting rooms?

Green: It’s the smallest of the three. The bar is made out of VHS cassette tapes and we have a mosaic of Yoda that’s made with old floppy disks. And we also offer the ability to rent out the whole establishment.

Downtown Condo Guys: From where do you source your coffee beans and where are they roasted?

Green: We source ethically from all over the board–everywhere from Guatemala to Mexico to Papua New Guinea. We make sure that we have strong relationships with the producers and the brokers. We also make sure the coffee we’re buying is from people who are actually farming the coffee and that the workers are paid fairly and appropriately.

Downtown Condo Guys: What significant shifts in consumer tastes, if any, have you observed over the past few years among beer and coffee consumers?

Green: On the beer side, IPA still remains the king, whether it’s West Coast or hazy. Although lagers have seen a resurgence lately, such as with our year-round Modern Times Pils, which is technically a lager.

On the coffee side, consumers are pulling away from super-dark roasts. As the public becomes more educated about coffee, and learns the nuances and complexities found in lighter to medium roasted beans, it is becoming more of a staple in their diets. It’s the third wave of where coffee is going now.

Downtown Condo Guys: When chasing down new retail and wholesale accounts, what is your most successful approach?

Green: Being in sales for 20 years, I stand by a few things. You have to follow up on all of your promises. And being available is important. I also keep my email and voicemail box at zero by answering to people. Those are the three things that have made me the most successful.

Downtown Condo Guys: Has Modern Times been affected by San Diego’s glut of breweries and coffee roasters?

Green: No. And the reason is twofold. It’s because we’ve had a steady and long tenure here in San Diego and also because we continue to innovate our products.

Downtown Condo Guys: Assuming you are both a beer and coffee drinker, what are your favorites?

Green: Yes, I am. IPA is my favorite style of beer. And I love a good Americano coffee.

Downtown Condo Guys: And what are your favorite products specifically from Modern Times?

Green: Dungeon Map. It’s our West Coast IPA with a Nelson and Strata hop profile – a lighter-bodied IPA. My favorite coffee is Idea Machine, a medium roast that has a beautiful chocolate-forward finish to it and a little bit of a toffee profile. We’re currently serving it at Snapdragon Stadium for all of their events. We are the stadium’s official hot coffee vendor.

Downtown Condo Guys: When you’re off the clock, what pastimes do you enjoy most?

Green: I have been playing piano for 20 years and for the past 10 years I’ve been in a band called Le Chateau. We’re just finishing our fourth record and we plan on gigging around town starting this summer. I love visiting local, independent breweries when I travel to places like Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas. And I also love visiting the biggest municipal parks of other cities–and Balboa Park right here in San Diego.