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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Out with the old and in with the new: 5 Sips Coffee & Tea

5 Sips Coffee & Tea. Photo: David Lee

As my sister Ellie and I walk into 5 Sips Coffee & Tea, I am hit with a wave of nostalgia that only this specific spot can call upon. It’s a Saturday, and the café is filled with local patrons running in and out with coffee and pastries in hand. 

Many of us City College natives knew the now 5 Sips Coffee & Tea as Espresso Metro prior to the pandemic. The last day Espresso Metro was open was May 31 2020; 5 Sips opened the following day, June 1, according to its owner, Michael Mansour. 

While opening during COVID has been difficult, Mansour says the worst has passed for the business. Now, he’s trying to bring in some new people with events like karaoke nights, trivia nights and open mic Saturdays at noon which is what brought me in on this Saturday morning in November.  

5 Sips Coffee & Tea. Photo: David Lee
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As Ellie and I wait for the performers to trickle in, I talk with the event promoter, Austin Blanchard. Blanchard has been promoting the open mic at 5 Sips for a little over a month now, with usually five or six performers per event. 

“We have people from all around town. … We’ve had students come in and out here and there,” Blanchard says. “I think it’s primarily just whoever shows up from around town. It’s definitely a unique space.” 

Blanchard is the first to perform; he plays a set of three folks on his acoustic guitar. As he starts the show, there is an encouraging shout from the audience of 10 or 12 people from the next performer, Sarah Reiwitch.  

“The host with the most!” yells Reiwitch.

Reiwitch, a singer-songwriter in the Sacramento area, says she’s very involved with the local music scene, which is what brought her to 5 Sips this morning. Reiwitch is a former American River College student who transferred to UC Davis. 

“I like to come here to, you know, practice my stuff and kind of gauge the audience reaction. … So [it’s] just really fun to be involved in the local scene,” Reiwitch says.

Reiwitch starts her set with “Unconditional Love,” a song she wrote about a close friend of hers who doesn’t have their family’s support to be their authentic self. When Reiwitch is playing, I hear the passion in her voice, and her facial expressions paint the picture of just how much she loves her craft. 

Reiwitch finishes her four-song set with another of her originals, “Which Way Is Home?” 

5 Sips Coffee & Tea. Photo: Ellie Stehr

A table down from Ellie and me, I see a man wearing headphones and practicing on his guitar. His name is Tony Galioto. I ask if he will be playing today, but he says that he’s just here to listen. 

Galioto attended City College as a student in 1980. A regular at 5 Sips, Galioto comes to get some space and work on his music; he played at the open mic the previous week.

“[I] wanted to come out and say hello and see what’s going on,” Galioto says. “I did the first two weeks they did the open mic. … [5 Sips was] definitely taking baby steps.”

Walking in late is a family of four — a mom and dad with their daughter and pet dog, who had the best hair in the café. As they enter, I can see that the girl is carrying a small instrument. The girl is 10-year-old Kate, accompanied by her parents Angel and Brian Morgan, who are here to watch her perform. 

Kate is a fourth grader at Westlake Charter School in Natomas and a pupil of Blanchard. She has been playing the ukulele for three years now. Although still new to performing, Kate looks confident about showing her musical skills. 

She plays a three-song set, ending with a fan favorite, “Over the Rainbow,” accompanied by teacher Blanchard with his guitar. Later, she tells me about some of the artists who inspire her, like Billie Eilish, Adele and Walker Hayes. 

I ask Kate for her advice to those who want to perform but might be nervous. “Just do it,” she says. 

The next performer to take the stage is Nicole Gentry, a 2009 City College graduate. Gentry has been playing music for over 20 years and says this is a great place for both new and experienced performers.

Gentry has a smooth, sultry voice that grabs the attention of everyone in and outside of the café. A change in genre, singing R&B and soul, she plays three songs. 

As Gentry begins the last song of her set, an audience member exclaims, “Oh my God Stevie?!” as she starts to play “Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder. 

The last performer of the day is David Merson, an English professor at American River College. Merson is a frequent patron of 5 Sips, often working on classes and grading while he’s there.

“I usually come here to work but couldn’t work today, so I grabbed my guitar!” Merson says.

Merson’s set includes some of his original work and covers, including his cover of “Heart of Glass” by Blondie and his original, “Poor David,” a fun and playful song about himself.    

As the performers pack up, I talk to Mansour again about the café and the community. 

“I’m a social guy. I love it, honestly,” Mansour says. “I get to meet people like you guys — just make friends.” 

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