“We saw a bag of coffee in her office and we said, `What’s this?”‘ recalled Andrew Genato, 43. “And she told us about the company and asked us if we wanted to be investors.” Genato liked the idea. So did his wife. The company opened its first store in June in West Hollywood. The Torrance coffeeshop, which the Genatos are licensing from the corporation, will be the second. Thirty-eight stores are “in line to open,” with eight to 10 planned for next year, said Mrs. Genato, also 43. Each store will require $300,000 to $500,000 to open, Genato said. The healthy concept is not new, said Bruce Milletto, who advises gourmet coffee retailers through his Portland, Ore.-based Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup. Several years ago, an investment group in Oregon started a company to market nutrient-rich coffee. But the effort failed, possibly because the investors, who were lawyers, did not have experience in the food industry, Milletto said. “It seemed to me at the time that it could be a very plausible idea,” Milletto said. Most gourmet coffee drinkers are “fairly” health conscious, highly educated and with disposable income, Milletto said. “People do a lot of different things to coffee,” Milletto said. “A lot of independents right now are basically looking for specific niches, and this could be a good one. I don’t know.” While the Healthy Bean headquarters is in Los Angeles, company President Ray Basa is developing new coffee flavors as well as a line of “healthy” teas and “healthier” baked goods from a Downey warehouse. The teas and baked goods will be introduced in about a month, Basa said. Basa also is developing Healthy Bean bottled water fortified with nutrients. “We’re basically a coffee company, but we’re coming out with a lot of products, not just coffee,” said Basa, who spent most of his career in food technology, developing nutritional supplements. Basa and his main partner Violeta Cristobal founded the company in 2003. Genato, who runs care homes for the elderly, will act as manager of the Torrance store for the first few months. He wants to be there to get all the kinks out of the system as the store begins operations. The Genatos said that they chose their Torrance location because there are no other coffee retailers within walking distance. But other Healthy Beans may be closer to the competition. That does not seem to bother Genato. “We want to go against Starbucks,” he said. [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonThe Healthy Bean will have its soft opening this week, offering coffee infused with antioxidants and whey protein. “As a medical doctor, this all made sense to me,” said Sharon Genato, a local internist and half of the husband-wife team behind the Torrance store on Hawthorne Boulevard near Lomita Boulevard. The Torrance opening may serve as a prelude to another Healthy Bean planned for Redondo Beach or Manhattan Beach possibly next year. The Genatos hope the concept will draw health-conscious coffee lovers in an already crowded industry dominated by Starbucks and other large chains. A year ago, the Torrance couple learned about Healthy Bean during a visit to their accountant, who served as the company’s chief financial officer. A wall covered with green bamboo awaits a trickle-down fountain to be installed just inside the front entrance. Abstract paintings are going up on vermilion walls. An empty glass case will soon boast baked goods. And as early as Wednesday, the aroma of hot coffee will waft out of Torrance’s newest coffeehouse.