Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Jul 12, 2006 06:19 PM

Real espresso - between Ventura and SLO?

I recently visited Portland, OR and found the fresh espresso coffee to be really amazing. In L.A, we have Coffee Klatch in San Dimas - but I was wondering...who makes some really nice espresso coffee on Calif's central coast, say, between Ventura and SLO? (No need to mention Peet's, CB&TL etc) Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I hear what you are saying - the kind of expresso you kind of have to chew and scrape the sticky yellow foam off the sides of the cup- real pottery cups with a tiny spoon? The kind I have only found at Cafe Trieste in North Beach, SF?

    Please try the second best thing at the independent Cafe Bianco in Victoria Court, Santa Barbara - they deserve support having now to go head to head with yet another Starbucks right around the corner.

    They are located in a very pleasant, quiet and atmospheric interior courtyard right in the heart of SB's prime restaurant quadrangle between State and Victoria - they are interior at the first block of West Victoria and State - a block south of the Arlington Theater.

    Be sure to sample their special European style homemade cookies and pastries as well - the Palmiers are my own favorite. This place is a small independent gem in a town quickly getting overrun with corporate presence.

    5 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      I overheard a customer discussing "short pull and long pull" in a coffee bar in Cambria this afternoon. Supposedly, long pull shots are higher in tannins and are the Starbuck's style. Short pull shots are more like Peet's, and "Most Italians hate Starbuck's" as he said.

      Can anyone describe what the different pulls mean and how they are done?

      I'm no espresso expert, but here are some San Luis locations you might try:

      The Uptown Espresso on Higuera St just off Santa Rosa calss itself 'The Home of the Velvet Foam'. A pretty popular place.

      Also Linnea's on Garden Street, a folksy coffee hangout since the 70's, very popular for espresso.

      Please post your findings if you try any :)

      1. re: toodie jane

        Hello, t.jane, the short and long refer to the duration of the infusion, in the old fashioned espresso machines this was controlled by pulling the long lever. Very few of these old beauties are still in use here in the U.S.

        The modern devices use small electric-assist levers or buttons. As you'd surmise, the short pull espresso "ristretto" is thicker, heavier, creamier, and the purists who drink straight espresso or the minimally adulterated drinks like the macchiato usually specify to the barrista if this is their preference. A cappuccino as a moderately milked drink, is a good test of a shop's style, if one must have a milked drink. Most chains with quality monitoring train the barristas to "pull" within a range somewhere between the two extremes. This is monitored by duration in seconds on the automated setups, but the good barrista on a regular set-up goes by the color and consistency of the stuff coming off the spout.

        The big deficiency of the "long" pull is losing the very qualities one drinks espresso for--it becomes much more acidic and lighter in body and color,higher in caffeine. The mass American taste, however, favors big drinks that drown the espresso in lots of milk/soy in various forms plus sweetened flavorings, so if that's the main trade, there's little incentive to maintain the integrity of the moderate pull. That's considering just the duration of the "pull" as a variable in the espresso; the composition of the blend of beans, the freshness and darkness of the roast (too dark or stale and there won't be good "crema" on the pure espresso), the fineness/freshness of the grind,size of the dose (ground unbrewed beans), and the firmness of the tamping all need to be done correctly. Many shops serving "espresso" are using set-ups that have so much that is automated, preportioned, pre-packed, the results might be quick, easy to clean after, minimal training required, but souless and flat tasting. enjoy your summer!

        1. re: moto

          moto, thanks for explaining why I liked the espresso I got mainly in Italy --- that I could only explain as "you could sort of chew". Now it makes sense and why perhaps Cafe Trieste in the Italian North Beach section of SF offered the purest version. I really appreciated the detail of your explanation.

            1. re: moto

              thank you for this most excellent explanation. I admit to milk adulteration myself, but do crave the intense and rich flavor of coffee. Otherwise, as a friend puts it "it's just a hot brown liquid". Armed with this info, I'll try cappuccino drinks instead of lattes, and see what I can find here in SLO county.

        2. I agree about Uptown Espresso, if it is the same as it used to be. Good espresso drinks.

          1. Thanks for all of your replies - I will be going on my Central Calif road trip August 9 - 14. Looking forward to giving the mentioned places a try! Thank you, So Ho La = Ron K in Los Angeles