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The San Francisco Standard

Know Your Neighbors

Joshua James 

A Curator of Non-Alcoholic Community
Written by Jeremy Mann
Published Jun. 05, 2022 • 9:00am

For Outer Richmond resident Joshua James, non-alcoholic spaces are about more than sobriety. They’re about facilitating communities that make our habits not only sustainable but joyous. 

Tired of waking up with a hangover, the longtime bartender moved from Asheville, North Carolina to San Francisco’s Friendship House, an indigenous-led residential rehab program. After graduating, Josh wanted to leverage his bartending expertise to inspire more mindful drinking, so he started a YouTube channel reviewing non-alcoholic beverages.

A few months later, in late 2020, Josh stumbled upon a charming Outer Richmond deli on the verge of closure. After hustling to raise funds, he converted the deli into Ocean Beach Cafe, a non-alcohlic cafe with one of the country’s largest selections of non-alcoholic beverages. The cafe quickly blossomed into a hub for non-alcoholic meetups, post-beach hangouts and quirky open-mic nights. 

But Josh hopes to expand his reach beyond the cafe. Up next is Temperance Bar Speakeasy & Lounge, an invite-only tasting bar and meeting space with the mission to educate the food & beverage industry about non-alcoholic options. After he gets Temperance off the ground, he plans to begin hosting alcohol-free popups around the city to give everyone, regardless of their relationship to sobriety, a chance to enjoy the ritual of gathering with friends over a drink.

Joshua James - portrait

Special powers

Blowing people’s minds through beverages and bringing the comfy vibes.

Arch enemies

The smell of an alcohol soaked bar.

Weaknesses

Having more courage than practice.

Lineage

Those reimagining social situations where alcohol isn’t the default.

Current mission

To show people what fills the room when you remove the frequency of alcohol from it.

'We still want interesting drinks, to be social and have a pretty glass. That’s a much bigger ingredient than alcohol is.'
Joshua James - portrait