Humphry Slocombe Brings its Cult-like Following to Oakland

The new shop sells scoops as well as pints. Credits: Janelle Bitker

Hundreds braved the heat last Sunday afternoon for free ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, the San Francisco-based creamery known for its rare flavor combinations and silly names. The first East Bay location just opened at The Hive (2335 Broadway), the space in Uptown, Oakland that also hosts Calavera, Drake’s Dealership, and Firebrand Bakery. To celebrate, Humphry handed out free scoops, and the steady line stretched from the center of The Hive out to the street.

Clearly, there’s excitement.

The new Oakland ice cream hub occupies a refurbished, bright-blue shipping container and serves a dozen flavors along with floats, sundaes, and pints. The most famous Humphry Slocombe flavor is probably Secret Breakfast, which pairs bourbon and cornflakes, though the creamery also crafts some more expected flavors — albeit with tongue-in-cheek names — such as Here’s Your Damn Strawberry! You’ll find sophisticated options like Earl Grey tea-plum sorbet and a wide variety of toppings, including hot fudge, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil with sea salt. There’s also an affogato collaboration with Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee, which has a shipping container cafe in the same courtyard.

Humphry Slocombe debuted in the Mission district in 2008, eventually expanding to San Francisco’s Ferry Building and adding a food truck. It’s often referred to as a “cult ice cream-maker” for its consistently long lines, constantly changing portfolio of surprising flavors, and massive Twitter following at 276,000.

In Oakland’s ice cream landscape, it’s definitely one of the pricier scoops at $4.50 for a single. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that another one of the most expensive ice cream shops in Oakland is Rockridge’s Smitten Ice Cream, another San Francisco-based company.