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Jun 1, 2009 10:24 PM

Philz Coffee now in Downtown SJ - other locations Palo Alto (open), Berkeley, SF coming soon

I just found out that Philz Coffee is now open in Downtown SJ near SJSU, haven't tried it yet:
118 Paseo de San Antonio, SJ, CA 95112

Any recs on what I should try? How are their lattes?

Other locations now open or coming soon from their website:

Palo Alto
3191 Middlefield Rd (@ Loma Verde Ave) Palo Alto - OPEN

Civic Center
748 Van Ness Ave, SF - coming soon

Berkeley (North Berkeley)
1600 Shattuck Ave @ Cedar - Coming soon

philz coffee
118 Paseo de San Antonio, san jose, ca

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  1. I have to say, ever since Philz opened up the Castro location, and got the merchandising going, I've noticed a decline in quality. Everything kind of tastes the same to me a few sips in, and not the distinct flavors that made them stand out in the past. With their pricing, it's hard to make it a frequent habit anyway. Considering that, I would say the iced coffee is worth trying.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sugartoof

      Just to follow up....
      Apparently I was right, and Philz is using a different roaster.
      I've been keeping my eye out for interesting beans (after my recent experience with Ritual) and noticed a company with bagged, and loose beans for sale at Roxie Market, called Magic Coffee, which claimed to be in business since 1982.

      The Magic Coffee website looks very diverse in selection and styles (light, dark, medium, blends, single source, etc.) and they happened to carry a Cardamon Turkish coffee . It turns out, this was Phil's old partner, and roaster....

      Anyone try Magic Coffee or their retail outfit Rodgers?

    2. If it's like their original location, it's not the place to go for espresso drinks. Philz's specialty is coffee made in a manual drip and then mixed with sugar and milk. It's not for everyone, but I think it's delicious and a nice change of pace from lattes, cappuccinos, etc. It's also great for people who like a fresh leaf of mint or some fresh ground cardamom in their coffee. I'm not sure I'd label their style as Turkish or Mediterranean, but it's definitely more like that than your average espresso hut.

      1. I've only been to their 24th st. location but dig their mint mojitos. They sometiimes have mini doughnuts which make me feel less guilty about eating them. I also dug their turkish blend of coffee, though it's def not turkish coffee. it's an individually brewed drip coffee cup kinda place. Ordering can be chaotic, but the people are usually nice enough to guide you through the process

        1. I went to Philz Coffee after work 6/2/09. It's right next to Beard Papa, close to the SJ Rep & SJSU!

          Nick is a nice guy and made me a drink called "Anesthesia To The Upside" small $2.75; Lg $3.25. I told him I wanted not too strong, not too sweet. I enjoyed my cup.

          I want to try the Philharmonic - friend said it's a medium roast coffee with cardamom or ginger ? in it. They also added a mint leaf to it. Sounds interesting.

          Strange: Lots of cool names of drinks though NO Description of what's in it. That's a pain.

          Lots of brown tables & chairs + leather sofas. Nice looking shop to hang out.

          CASH ONLY

          My pics here:

          9 Replies
          1. re: hhc

            The no descriptions thing can make it confusing. I get the feeling they want to interact with their customers. I've never seen sugar out for self help at the two locations I've been to in the city, but they always made a good guess sweetening it to my tastes anyway.

            1. re: hhc

              The no description thing drives me insane, but you can check out the descriptions on their website if you're feeling obsessive. I think it was a fun schtick at their original location because they have a ton of regulars, a fairly large staff for a coffee house, and Phil was often around to shoot the breeze. It might not work so well at a one man coffee bar.

              The Philharmonic and Turkish both have cardamom and other spices in them. The Philharmonic is my go-to drink. I was at the 18th Street location the other day and noticed someone order a Mint Mojito, which also looked great: iced coffee poured over muddled mint. It was an off the menu order: as if a menu that long needs secret menu items!

              1. re: Pei

                I'm always put off when greeted with "have you ever been here before?" because the employees know they have to orientate customers.

                I find the Cardamon coffee to just be bitter now. Bitter Turkish coffee isn't all that interesting for $3, and I couldn't taste the mint leaf, so it's coffee with garnish floating on top.

                Oh, and just a warning about the Iced good as they are, expect it served in a small paper cup, with mostly ice.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  Which location do you go to? I wonder if they're having some uneven service issues opening so many new branches so quickly. The person I saw with the iced drink had a big clear cup, at least as big as a medium iced coffee from Starbuck's. And there was a lot of ice, but it didn't seem excessive.

                  The greeting thing varies. Sometimes I get a polite "Hi, what can I get for ya?" and other times it's a weary "Have you been here before?"

                  1. re: Pei

                    I've only been to the 24th, and 18th St. locations.... really happy to hear they have the clear cups now. Maybe they use the regular cups when they run out.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      Do you think the inconsistency could possibly because the other locations are franchises? I know the Civic Center location is going to be a franchise.

                      1. re: perplexed

                        Could be, but if there's any truth to what I posted above, that Phil changed roasters and broke up a partnership with the Magic Coffee guy, then that's probably the reason.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          While changing roasters may have made a difference. (although unlikely) probably the real reason is that Phil really doesn't care about coffee. He discovered a means to make good money and he is running with it. He re-invented his original Gateway Market at least three times before he happened on this coffee phenomenon. His coffee in my opinion (for what that's worth) is not really very good. Adding Cardamon or mint to a coffee might change the taste, but it doesn't hide the sins of stale Robusta beans and inconsistent preparation.

                  2. re: sugartoof

                    speaking of ice and coffee adjuncts and palo alto, Cafe Epi has a really great mint iced coffee right now. It's closer to a viet coffee, lots of milk, with lots of mint flavor.

              2. I met owner Phil Jaber at the Palo Alto store late last week in the morning, asked him about the Berkeley store. He said the blueprints were being reviewed, and it will be about a 3000 square feet space with a stage for live/jazz music. Really cool dude, I couldn't believe he showed up in PA (and interestingly had to ask an employee how to work the register as he was ringing me up).

                Brilliant iced mocha tesora's though, the trick is to request less sugar, less ice and let the cocoa powder shine through. The iced coffee is not bad either, definitely a bigger cup than the $3 New Orleans style Iced from Blue Bottle (and thus better value).

                2 Replies
                1. re: K K

                  I think that iced coffee at Blue Bottle is more like $3.80, and when I tried it at the Mint Plaza location, almost half of it was Clover milk.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    My husband and I are both very excited for the new Philz as we got married at Cafe de la Paz, its former incarnation. Looks like they'll only be using the bottom floor (la Paz used both the first and second floors) -- maybe the second floor is for offices? Can't wait to drink coffee where we had our first dance.