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New Blue Bottle Cafe opening 1/23/08 @ 8am

Just a heads up that the Blue Bottle Cafe at 66 Mint St, SF is opening tomorrow, Wed. 1/23/08 @ 8am.

Also, it's National Pie Day 1/23!

Blue Bottle Cafe
66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. Wow!
    I had no idea!
    Thanks for the good news.

    1. Didn't know about National Pie Day. Thanks for the heads up.

      1. The event has garnered at least indirect attention from the New York Times:


        11 Replies
        1. re: jpancake

          It probably takes a $20,000 machine to make a good cup of coffee from BBC's sadly under-roasted beans.

          Actially, I was at the Chelsea Cafe Grumpy last July. I don't know if they were using their $11,000 Clover then, but I don't recall anything remarkable about the coffee other than it was made with a good honest roast (like you get almost anywhere in North Beach).

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            Why not save the potshots for Ritual Roasters, which I think has completely jumped the shark on the minimal roasting trend? Blue Bottle's beans are just right to my taste, where they are roasted enough not to taste raw, but not so roasted that I can't taste the nuance of each individual source or batch. Ritual Roasters, on the other hand, actually produce a cup of coffee that tastes starchy and raw when I make it at home as drip.

            I made the mistake of asking the clerk at Ritual for a medium roast the last time I was in there, and she scolded me, saying they don't make any medium roasts. Instead of replying that they did when the adults from Stumptown were supervising them, I just meekly bought a 1/2 lb of beans and decided to stop giving them my business.

            1. re: SteveG

              I don't have any love for Ritual, except for the fact that their cafe serves the best quality teas (from Red Blossom) of any cafe in town. I long ago learned that looking for a good cup of coffee away from North Beach is a gamble.

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                I agree that Red Blossom is the best tea shop in Chinatown.

                1. re: Paul H

                  This might be off topic, but is Red Blossom still around? I was walking on Grant last weekend and looks like they changed into another tea shop.

                    1. re: singleguychef

                      They're definitely still there. You were probably looking at the Vital Tea (second location) a block to the north.

                2. re: SteveG

                  I agree that Ritual's coffee isn't what it was two years ago, but before you slam them, what kind of beans did you buy?

                  They sell at least 15 varieties of beans, varying widely in flavor and roast. I've had fine luck brewing them at home, but the Ethiopian beans don't taste anything like the ones from Brazil or Honduras. They will sell you as little as 1/4 pound, or get a cup first.

                  1. re: Windy

                    I've tried all the options carried at Rainbow Grocery recently, which seems to be a decent variety of 4 or 5 distinct offerings; none were to my taste. Then I thought I should go to the source to see if they have smaller batches that are roasted differently. I carefully read all the descriptions, and tried to ask questions of the clerk but the coffee I was steered to was just as lightly "toasted." I really want to love Ritual, since I can buy their stuff at Rainbow Grocery while doing normal grocery shopping and they're very good about honoring the roasting dates and strict sell by limits, but it just doesn't taste good to me.

                    1. re: SteveG

                      That's too bad--they have/had a silly brochure at the cafe with tasting notes. http://ritual.myshopify.com/
                      The right person should have been able to point you toward a more roasted style.

                      I recently discovered that Whole Foods has self-serve coffee beans and a grinder too, so you can get 1/4 pound of a few varieties and figure out what you like.

                  2. re: SteveG

                    though I still like Ritual, it's become more hit or miss since they stopped using stumptown beans. Stumptown's Hairbender Blend is outstanding stuff.

              2. Tidbit about Blue Bottle Cafe from today's SF Chronicle: the chef was formerly at Medicine. I can only dream that Blue Bottle Cafe will have the shiso-wrapped natto tempura and the miso-eggplant that I loved from Medicine's former menu.

                1. I just came back from Blue Bottle at the new location. I didn't see a food menu but I did see loves of bread...there were several menus on the tables and it included drinks and a dessert menu.

                  We had a capuccino each and was surprised to find that our espresso drinks were sour...is this from improper roasting? I've had this issue with their drip coffees previoiusly too. Anyway, they have an interesting syphon coffee drink that serves two and in addition to their New Orleans iced coffee, they now have a Kyoto style iced coffee. Also new to their drinks menu are espresso con panna, lemonade, and some beer/wine. This is all I can remember from the top of my head.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: sylphi

                    What is "Kyoto style iced coffee"?

                    1. re: david kaplan

                      I think it might have something to do with their shiny new $20,000 halogen-heated Japanese siphon bar.

                      I went this afternoon to find quite a crowd. The space is really nice and minimalist, but I am not used to standing in a crowded room waiting for my coffee! I prefer to stand in little fresh-air alleys :)

                      they have a sweets menu which has a chocolate pudding, some kind of miette cake (don't remember what kind), some sort of crumble. sorry i don't recall the details

                      1. re: david kaplan

                        I'm not sure what Kyoto style iced cofee is. I didn't get a chance to ask since it was pretty crowded as mchan02 mentioned but I do remember the Kyoto style iced coffee costing $3.25 while the New Orleans style costs $3.50. However, it's not the siphon bar as the siphon drinks are hot drinks at I think $11 a siphon. It was pretty neat to watch the baristas make the siphon drinks, however.

                        1. re: sylphi

                          An $11 coffee just as Starbucks is going to a $1 coffee? That's what I call "In-your-Face!" To paraphrase Robin Willimas, maybe it's God's way of telling you you are making too much money.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            $11? Do you get unlimited refills ... for life?

                            Actually it is a steal when you realize that Silks is selling a $40 cup of coffee ... that bean that is, uh, produced by civits.

                        2. re: david kaplan

                          I don't know for sure, but the following is a video from the place showing the coffee being made. Near the beginning he shows two large globes of water dripping through grounds. There's a quick caption saying the cold drip process takes 6 hours.


                          1. re: sprsquish

                            That's the "Kyoto" Iced Coffee" machine in that pic. The Japanese Siphon is pretty much a 20K, Jules Verne version of my $40 Yama stovetop vacuum pot (sometimes also called a coffee siphon). It makes a pretty darn good cup - certainly it's my favorite brewing method - but $10 is a lot for 18 oz. of coffee. I tried BBC's $10 cup and it was very good (you get a tiny candy or such with it) but I still consider that a rip-off.

                        3. re: sylphi

                          Sour? Bitter? Grassy taste? It could be that the coffee was too fresh. Roasted beans have to sit for at least twenty four hours so they can degas. It could be other things also . in any event, you should have said something, they would have given you another drink if indeed the espresso was off.

                          As for the previous comment about getting a better cup in No. Beach? Everyone has different tastes. And it seems as though a lot of serious and discriminating coffee drinkers hold Bluebottle in the highest of esteem. I think I will go with their opinion.

                          1. re: chipman

                            I don't love their drip (it's a filter cone), but their espresso-and-milk-foam handling skills can be incredible. Or they can be average; it depends.

                            1. re: chipman

                              I prefer to go by my palate, which maybe has been over-trained by 50 years of drinking Euro-style roasts. Perhaps you just can't teach an old dog new tricks, but New Age coffee roasts like BB's make Starbucks look good.

                          2. I went over and checked out the new Blue Bottle today. I was a little nervous when I saw the mad scientist lab with the glass balls of coffee with light shining through them. According to the employee I talked to, they are the first in the country to use them and that they're "big in Japan." I worry that it's a gimmick. I like Ogawa Coffee from Kyoto, but I don't know if they make it in glass balls over there.

                            Anyway, the good news is that they still deliver. Their americano was every bit as good as the ones they make in the alley down Lindon. They're the best.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: tacos

                              From everything I've read and know about James Freeman, it is no gimmick. Coffee seems his sincere interest. Whether that translates to everyone's tastes or not, I would doubt that he bought it for gimmick value. Those people who are serious coffee afficianados will probably be interested.

                              Then again it might be a way for Blue Bottle to make an even slower and cooler cup of joe.

                              Sometimes people just take it too seriously like that quote from the NY Times article by George Howell of Terroir Coffee “Coffee has never been a noble beverage because the means to perfectly produce it haven’t existed,”

                              I don't know. Coffee has always been a religious experience for me ... especially in the morning ... even without taking it so seriously. I've always considered it a noble beverage. It also seems like an arrogant statement in terms of all the excellent coffee in so many countries. I guess that's why I really can't get into the whole coffee geekism. I just want to enjoy a cup, not analyze it.

                              Come on, NO ONE has had a cup of this stuff yet ... or the Kyoto coffee?

                              1. re: rworange

                                Blue Bottle sucks. Ritual sucks. You can't get a good cup of coffee outside of North Beach. When it comes to coffee, everybody's got an opinion. But here's what people need to understand: Coffee is going through a revolution. It's going from an agricultural product treated as a commodity (pour all the beans grown in Colombia--the good with the bad--into one barrel and sell it as Colombian Coffee) to a much more sophisticated stage, where the best beans are being kept out of that barrel so they can be appreciated for their individuality.

                                Serious local roasters like Blue Bottle, Ritual, and Ecco Caffe in Santa Rosa are sourcing these unique coffees and, for the most part, roasting them lighter than Bay Area folks are used to, which allows the more subtle flavors that distinguish them to soar. This is going to take some getting used to. I had some Ethiopian Sidamo prepared on the Clover at Ritual a couple weeks ago. I can't say I particularly liked it, but it was like no coffee I've ever tasted before--it took coffee in a new direction for me.

                                The revolution flowed from the Pacific Northwest--where places like Espresso Vivace, Zoka, Vita, Stumptown, Victrola, and Batdorf & Bronson took coffee to a new level. All the while the Bay Area coffee scene was in slumber mode. Thanks to Blue Bottle, Ritual, and Ecco (a pure roaster at this point--no retail outlet) things are changing fast. Put your preconceptions aside and get ready for a ride.

                                1. re: TopoTail

                                  I guess rw was right about coffee being a religion. An Evangelical one, at that!

                                  1. re: TopoTail

                                    I am sorry ... I appreciate what "new" local roasters are doing ... but it is nothing new in Europe. And if you want to talk beans, stop and talk to some of the North Beach roasters about what they know.

                                    Perhaps everyone should put there perceptions aside. I finally figured all this, uh, passion over coffee ... way too much caffiene

                                    I really have no perceptions about coffee. I've tried almost every single bean of every single "new" generation of roaster. IMO, like the cheese industry in California, the coffee roasters are still in their infancy. I'm sure when they have as much experience as some of the North Beach or European roasters it WILL be a religious experience.

                                    I'll probably blow $11 to try the Blue Bottle coffee. After that statement, I'll either probably have to wear a disguise to get that cup of coffee or send someone in for me... banned at Blue Bottle.

                                    Freeman doesn't get that. I'm guessing he would think that was a statement about cost and lack of appreciation for quality. It is not. It is about trying something and deciding if it is for you or not. If not, adjust it to my tastes if I've tried it your way.

                                    Blue Bottle was a lot more amazing to me when it just started. After about a year I figured out that I just don't like it at that temperature and Blue Bottle will not accomodate what a customer will request because they feel they know better and it would compromise the cup. It is like chefs not putting salt on the table because according to their taste what they cook is perfect ... tho I feel most chefs over-salt and wish they would cut it down and let me salt to my taste, if necessary.

                                    That being said, I've had a few "wow" Blue Bottle moments. I really like the brew at Bittersweet because it complements chocolate so well.

                                    I wonder if after buying an $11 cup, should I not like the temperature, will they use the fancy machine which can brew at various temperatures to sell me a cup at the temperature I would like ... though it might destroy whatever subelties that are there.

                                    Never mind ... I know that answer.

                                    Though I will go in perception-free. It might just be the most amazing cup of coffee I ever tried.

                                    I guess the old statement needs revision ... never argue religion, politics OR coffee ... especially with the caffinated.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      I like your approach in that at least you're willing to try it. I have the same idea.... try it, then make my opinion, rather than prejudge.

                                      I happen to like Blue Bottle, but like everything else that involves the senses, its a matter of personal taste.

                                  2. re: rworange

                                    I agree rworange! I look forward to waking up in the morning for that first cup of coffee-noble enough for me.

                                    1. re: foodseek

                                      Sorry this is a little late. I'm responding to Sylphi above who said that the espresso drinks were sour. A light roast coffee will be higher in acidity than a dark roast. Sometimes, depending on the coffee, a lot higher. They also may be using higher acid beans in their espresso blend. To someone who likes higher acid coffees, often called "bright" this is great and is often discribed as citric. To someone used to the very dark roasts a lot of roasters use for expresso this can taste sour. I doubt Blue Bottle roasted improperly but they may have chosen deliberately to use a lighter roast than you're used to and maybe also some higher acid coffees than the lower acid Brazils and robusta beans a lot of people use.

                                      For what it's worth, I roast my own and can find very light roasts a little too much for me. On the other hand, the very dark roasts that are common in California and the Pacific Northwest, and nationally with Starbucks just taste bitter to me now and also mask the lovely differences between coffees from different origins. I go in between.

                                      1. re: Steveberkeley

                                        No worries but I'm thankful for your input. I just wanted to note that this sourness in the cappuccino at BBC has never happened to me before (I would think that this sourness would happen every time if the coffee was supposed to be like that). It has happened to me with their drip coffee but never the espresso drinks and I've been drinking their coffee for a while. That's why I thought it had something to do with the roasting process with that particular batch.

                                2. Here is a review from Greg Sherwin who has some degree of credibility in coffee circles(If there is anything like that). It does appear to fly in the face of some of the less than kind remarks posted here.


                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: chipman

                                    It's obvious from the text that the author is a coffee Übergeek and a buddy of Blue Bottle's owner, and as the French say, you are going to see what you are going to see.

                                    At least the article confirmed my suspicion that the Japanese Rube Goldberg contraption is basically a gussied up vacuum pot, a device which was already going out of fashion when I was an ankle-biter, but fun to watch even then. I guess you can call it a "heirloom" method.

                                    1. re: chipman

                                      People have different tastes. If they don't like a certain coffee it doesn't make them unkind. It makes their tastes different.

                                      Mr. Sherwin is just another taster and despite the fact that he has tried a lot of coffee, whatever he might or might not prefer it doesn't make his opinion any more valid than anyone's. It depends if a person's tastes match his about how useful his opinion is to them.

                                      One of the most useful posts in this thread was by Steveberkeley who explained why a coffee that might be perceived as sour would have been roasted to achieve certain 'brightness'. Well, he said it better.

                                      His posts didn’t say the poster was wrong in their tastes or they should appreciate the coffee.

                                      I hope someone who has tried some of the coffee, especially the siphon, will start a new thread. This is one of those threads that is about a place opening with more speculation and not a lot about the actual shop.

                                      It was nice to read about one siphon coffee ... Idido Misty Valley Ethiopian ($10) ... which comes with salted caramels. I can believe his comments about the great pairing because as I said, that Bittersweet blend goes so well with chocolate.

                                      BTW, Xiao, given you like chocolate, you might give the Blue Bottle Bittersweet roast / chocolate pairing a try because I think you might find it interesting.

                                      What I found useful in that link was the information about the single origin espresso and Blue Bottle having a weekly rotation. It was interesting to read his opinions on the Brazilian Camocim Bourbon ...

                                      "It has an exquisite aroma. The crema is a rich, mottled, and frothy medium brown — a touch thinner in size, as you might expect from a single origin espresso, but it has texture for miles. It has a robust flavor — there aren’t any elements noticeably missing, which is common to single origin espressos — and tastes of chocolate and some tobacco smokiness. Served in a white ACF cup — it is an outstanding recommendation over the “standard” blend."

                                      What might be perceived unkind is just reaction to the hard sell from the coffee crowd ... that anyone who doesn't genuflect at what the new roasters are doing, must not understand the movement and their tastes are wrong. They just don't know any better.

                                      IMO, James Freeman is an artist and an original.

                                      While I might not always like the canvas being used, I can appreciate what he is doing and look forward to what Blue Bottle will be doing in the future and how it will develop.

                                      I personally don't think he does anything for the gimmick factor and what he produces comes from a passion about coffee.

                                      That being said ... good artists don't always produce what is universally popular ... which a good thing is. It doesn't dumb down a product.

                                      Speaking of something not universally popular, I don't suppose the new cafe will grind a bag of beans ... still whole bean only?

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        I'm sure they won't. Last time I asked them to grind beans for me in Linden Alley, I got a lecture and an offer to buy a grinder.

                                    2. Obviously some love it and some don't. Whatever.

                                      BUT, if you do like Blue Bottle, do yourself a favor and get an AeroPress -- the cheap little plastic single cup brewer from the guy who invented the Aerobie. It is unbelievable how much better Blue Bottle is with the AeroPress, much better IMHO than the single cup drip method they use at the Farmers Markets. Esp good with BB's Central American / Chiapas coffees.

                                      BTW, I find the AeroPress doesn't really make darker roasts any better, to my taste.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jmarek

                                        So in case anyone is still looking for a first hand report on Blue Bottle's cafe, check out the latest review on my blog (the link is on my account). The fact of the matter is that the coffee from the Siphon really comes out to about $3-$5 per 8-10 oz cup depending on the type of coffee your order. Not too bad considering you pay about the same for any place around the country that brews it's coffee on a clover machine. Besides, this cafe has so much more to offer than just the siphon coffee.

                                        I also wanted to say that I like rworange's comparison of Blue Bottle to art. You need to consider what they are offering and give it a try. In the end, you may not like it, but I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that it isn't well-thought through and done with craft and skill.

                                      2. I hope some of you Blue Bottle fans will check out the new BB in Rohnert Park next time you're heading North. It's in the DoubleTree shopping zone, near Mary's Pizza. It's called the Golden Bean.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: lamoufette

                                          There is a difference between Blue Bottle coffee and a café that uses their beans. Doesn't meanGolden Bean is no good, it could be terrific. But like most of the other cafés that use Blue Bottle coffee beans, chances are, they fall some what short of Blue Bottle's quality.