Kefa Coffee, Oakland: report
Surprised to not find any mentions of this spot on this board, as it's become one of my favorite spots to spend a pleasant couple of hours in the morning with a cup of coffee and a Sunday paper.
The house drip coffee is smooth and dark, not at all bitter--one of my favorite cups in the East Bay. (The house coffee was marked on the board as "Ethiopian Yirgacheffe" during my last visit--not sure if that ever changes.) For $1.55 a cup (with a free refill), you can't really beat it. All the coffee is fair trade and organic, mostly Ethiopian, I believe. They carry Numi bagged teas as well.
They do solid breakfast sandwiches too--quite tasty, actually. My standard order is a bacon, egg, and cheese on croissant. Nothing fancy, but the eggs are scrambled perfectly, and the bacon is nice and crisp. Really hits the spot. Prices range from $3.50 to $5.95 (for smoked salmon).
There's also a limited selection of baked goods--nothing spectacular, as far as I can tell, but they always offer to heat up your brownie or Danish in the oven, which is a nice touch. One of the place's biggest selling points is that the service is super friendly and accommodating.
Haven't tried any of the lunch options, but there's a range of sandwiches, pizzas, and salads on the menu.
Kefa is in a bit of gritty neighborhood--not unsafe, as far as I can tell, but kind of desolate and unattractive, on 29th street right before you get to the Park St. bridge to Alameda. And you have to do a kind of funky U-turn to get there, if you're coming from the other side of Oakland.
The space itself is cozy and pleasant, though. As a schoolteacher, I'm always looking for a spot to grade papers, and Kefa is perfect for that--never too crowded and, even more important, free Wi-Fi!
422 29th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601
You know, I just bought a bag of beans the other day and didn't even think to ask. I would think so, though. Each bag has a label with the roasting date on it. I was there on the 15th, and all the bags were labeled 3/10. I've been brewing them in my French press with pretty good results--keep in mind, I'm no connoisseur, though. The beans are very fragrant once they're ground--almost a grassy scent.
Not cheap, though. I believe it was $12.95 for a 12 ounce bag. Given that price for the beans, it seems to me that $1.55 a cup (w/ refill) to drink it there is quite a deal--certainly compared to the Blue Bottles and Ritual Roasters and the like, which I don't like as much.
According to their website, they do catering as well.
Was in to buy some coffee beans today and noticed that the packaging is different from before. Talked to the owner, who said that they had to switch roasters recently--the beans used to be roasted in Denver, but that roastery (which was their favorite) wasn't willing to do it anymore; now the beans are roasted locally by Due Torri. Same coffee beans, though.
Didn't notice any difference in the quality of the coffee, but l doubt I'd be one to pick up on something like that. Haven't tried brewing this new batch at home yet.
The price seems to have gone down accordingly, though. Now it's $12.95 for a 1-lb bag (whereas it used to be the same price for 12 ounces).
Had their egg salad sandwich for lunch today and, wow, this was a great sandwich, maybe close to my Platonic ideal for an egg salad sandwich. Wonderfully yolky and moist, with crisp lettuce and some diced tomatoes. The roll is toasted, so the sandwich comes out warm with a nice crunch that, along with pieces of crisp bacon, give it nice textural component. The best part, though, was the slices of green olive in the sandwich. Perfection. This blows away the (relatively speaking) dry, bland egg salad sandwich I ordered from Bakesale Betty a few weeks ago.
The sandwich, at $5.99 (no sides), makes for a filling lunch by itself, or you can get a half sandwich for $4.50 (the half sandwich, while I appreciate the thought, seems not a great deal in this case).
And as I've mentioned earlier, Kefa's house coffee is probably my favorite coffee in the Bay Area (though I'm sure I don't have as discerning a palate, coffee-wise, as others on this board). Really smooth and fragrant.
In future visits I'll be torn between this egg salad sandwich and the equally tasty croissant breakfast sandwiches I'd been in the habit of ordering in the past. Other promising lunch items on the menu: tuna salad sandwich with arugula and capers, served on olive bread; BLT with guacamole, avocado, minced pickled jalapenos, thin-cut bacon, tomato, and lettuce.