Local bread maker brings a slice of Long Beach to San Pedro

For local bread maker Kristin Colazas Rodriguez, opening her first brick and mortar bakery in San Pedro is about taking full ownership of her craft; bringing a slice of what is becoming the more-saturated-every-day craft coffee and baked goods scene in Long Beach to a neighborhood that might not roll its eyes at the addition of a new, progressive bakery. Actually, they’ve welcomed it with open arms.

Newly opened Colossus Bread bakery at 2311 S. Alma St., San Pedro, CA. Thursday, Aug. 15. Photo by Asia Morris.

Nestled among small, single-family homes and surrounded by schools, Rodriguez’ quaint hallway of a storefront and kitchen, Colossus Bread, churns out vegan-friendly focaccia flatbreads topped with moisture-rich tomato and zucchini slices, fresh sourdough loaves made similarly to the Tartine method—with more hydration and a longer fermentation process learned from her years baking in San Francisco—at one point as a pastry chef for the critically lauded Petit Crenn—succulent strawberry and peach galettes, Danish poppy-seed pastries called Tebirkes and croissants, lots of chocolatey, flakey, and ham and cheesy croissants, take your pick.

But you’ll have to show up early if you want a taste of these artisan carbs. In the first four days after opening, Rodriguez sold out of pastries by 8 a.m. (she opens at 6 a.m.). If not the parents dropping their kids off at the nearby schools, stopping by for a latte and a brioche bostock, it’s her loyal following in Long Beach making the drive across the Vincent Thomas Bridge to buy entire boxes of her fruit and vegetable-forward baked goods.

Nick Rodriguez (left) and Colossus Bread owner Kristin Colazas Rodriguez stand in front of her new bakery in San Pedro. Thursday, Aug. 15. Photo by Asia Morris.

Rodriguez’ husband, Nick, who formerly managed Long Beach-based Steelhead Coffee’s growing fleet of shops and was one of the first baristas to work at Rose Park Roaster’s original location on Fourth Street, runs the beverage program using beans from Portland-based Heart Roasters, an outfit known for ensuring fair pay for its workers and transparency in operations, and um, the coffee is really, really good.

While Rodriguez plans to maintain her presence at local farmer’s markets, including Sundays in the Marina, some were disappointed to see her make a stake on a sleepy San Pedro block with no street sweeping, versus taking on an investor and building out a space in Long Beach. One reason she chose the former was to keep complete ownership of the business, allowing her the ability to create a sustainable work culture, one differing from the more cut-throat circumstances she experienced in San Francisco’s culinary world.

This baker’s fermentation fascination is feeding Long Beach one loaf at a time

With a background in community organizing—she once worked for a women’s services center on Skid Row before deciding to pursue pastry-making—it’s no wonder she’s already planning on getting together a “clean team” (to make up for not having the aforementioned street sweeping) in agreement with a longtime resident who introduced herself to Rodriguez as the “neighborhood watch.”

She’s also quickly developed an amicable relationship with artisan chorizo maker The Chori-Man next door; both businesses are certainly a destination for anyone outside of the neighborhood, but the two have developed an alliance of sorts that involves much more than their shared wall. The two entities go hand-in-hand, truly, and they often promote each other. It’s symbiotic, really, as in if the pastries sell out, which they will, one can always order a breakfast burrito to go with their coffee.

Follow Colossus Bread on Instagram @colossusbread for drool-inducing pastry photos (and more info). The bakery and coffee shop is open Wednesday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2311 S. Alma St., San Pedro, CA.  

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.