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Oct 19, 2009 09:59 PM

Blue Bottle Oakland?

EaterSF claims Blue Bottle Oakland opened today on Webster near 3rd. Google Street View shows a basic warehouse, so it doesn't look like they've taken over an existing spot.

Any reports?

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  1. The inside was essentially an empty warehouse before. My understanding is that they'll be roasting the beans on one side (two 1960s-vintage Probats), the cafe will be on the other, and there's a more or less fully equipped kitchen in between.

    Freeman's wife Caitlin (from Miette) will be doing pastries in house, and they'll also being doing various sandwiches as mentioned in that EaterSF report. (Incidentally, I thought the article said they wouldn't be opening until tomorrow.)

    1. According to the Blue Bottle Twitter, they opened today: . I'm excited to try it out, though my feelings about the pastries from Miette are well documented. Maybe they'll be less precious in Oakland.

      1. They are open - I stopped in this morning. They definitely are working out the kinks in terms of getting the grinders to work, figuring out how to ring people up, etc.
        I had a latte, and I'm not sure if this was just how they do it (I have not been to BB in the city), but the steamed milk was luke warm, and the espresso flavor was VERY faint. Is that just the way that Blue Bottle tastes? Also, did I make a mistake by not ordering drip coffee?
        They didn't have pastries this morning, so that must be still yet to come. The space is still very industrial -- concrete floors, high ceilings. I think there were a few stools at a bar.

        9 Replies
        1. re: lamlex

          >>> the steamed milk was luke warm, and the espresso flavor was VERY faint. Is that just the way that Blue Bottle tastes?


          1. re: lamlex

            lukewarm milk is how they roll. I always either get a plain drip coffee or an au lait - their espresso is very, very mild but the drip coffee just about takes my head off. !

            Looking forward to trying the pastries. . hope they are good.

            1. re: lamlex

              What blend are they using? Their espresso is anything but mild, however, the latte is not the best way to taste their espresso. Way to much milk diluting the espresso. Next time, maybe order a cappuccino instead of the latte. As for the luke warm description. Compared to Peets, SB and other coffee joints, Blue Bottle doesn't scorch the milk. If you ever go to any of the other good Espresso Cafes, you will find their milk based drinks similarly luke warm.

              1. re: chipman

                I usually drink lattes from Four Barrel or Ritual which I think of as good espresso cafes and while their milk based drinks are not as scorchingly hot as Peet's, they are warmer than BB. It's not to disparage Blue Bottle in any way but the fact is that their milk based drinks are simply not hot and anyone getting them should be aware of that.

                1. re: chipman


                  While I don't love everything I've tried everywhere, I'lve been to lots of good espresso cafes and the milk is never lukewarm or the opposite, scorched.

                  1. re: rworange

                    What cafes do you consider good?

                    1. re: chipman

                      Two different issues and different answers.

                      There are only a handful of places I haven't tried and if you look on the boards there is probably a report . of them all.

                      I've had caps at all the major players in the world of coffee geekdom in SF, the East and North Bay - Four Barrel, Ritual, Local 123, the actual Flying Goat in Healdsburg, Mocha in Berkeley. Not so much on the Peninsula or South Bay.

                      Thereare the respectable but not stars such as Catahoula in Richmond, Coles, Barking Dog, that place in San Rafael I can never remember the name of , some Sebastopol places (a good coffee town) and a bunch along that line.

                      I have literally been to every cafe and bakery that serves cap in North Beach.

                      Other than Blue Bottle I haven't had any of the experiences you describe

                      The big problem for me has been getting way too many wet caps. It is annoying. That to me is catering to the lowest common denominator ... pleasing the latte crowd.

                      What I consider good is another thing. I favor old style and actually some of my favorites are from Italian restaurants rather than shops focusing on coffee.

                      At a coffee type place Local 123 and Hardcore Organics (Sebastopol) stand out for me. At restaurants Tony's Pizza and ... don't knock it till you've tried it ... Alioto's stand out.

                      1. re: rworange

                        I hear you about the wet caps. For me, it's the macchiato -> dry cap in inflation.

                        Maybe you should order more macchiatos? I know it's wrong, but if you end up getting what you want....

                2. re: lamlex

                  Next time, try a cafe au lait. Had one with the Sidano at the Ferry building today, and the temp was fine. BTW, I withdraw my prior claim that Blue Bottle should only be brewed with a clover. This was drip, and it was divine -- the only cup of coffee where I don't want to add sweetener.

                3. No specific comments on the temp of the milk, but I am impressed by rworange's exhaustive research.

                  I was there yesterday and had the drip du jour.

                  It was very good, as I've come to expect from any BB outlet. The space is interesting. The cafe is too small for the traffic they will be getting. Two small counters and no place to sit down. I imagine to-go is their main goal. The roastery space is immense and only partially filled now by massive roasting equipment the size of a large truck, but taller. They could fit 5-6 of these things in the roastery space, I think. There is a kitchen. Curious to see what they produce from there.

                  My gripe is my same gripe about the cafe at Mint Plaza. The whole process at BB is a little precious. And while I appreciate the care and and process that goes into their beverage making, I think they could speed up the process as a whole.

                  Cole Coffee in Oakland does basically the same thing as BB. Single cup drip, grind per order. But someone I get out of CC (with a line just as big) in half the time it takes at BB. They just seem to have issues in taking orders, communicating, etc. The guy at the Roastery yesterday was on his own, granted, but he had a line out the door and could have handled a little better. There were 2 people in front of me and it took 10 minutes to get out the door. When he was taking the order in front of me I glommed on and said "would you mind starting another drip as well". Would be very easy for him - with open drip slots on the bar - to poll the line - "anyone else looking for a drip." Kind of the way Sbux asks - before you get to the register - can we start something for you?

                  Anyway, BB is a great addition the East Bay. I'm looking forward to seeing what it and it's new gourmet neighbors bring to Oakland, even if it takes me a few extra minutes to get a coffee.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: edgrimley

                    They have that same issue with lines and taking orders at the Blue Bottle in the Ferry Building, and there they often have three people up front, so I'm not sure what the problem is.

                    1. re: edgrimley

                      At the BB on Linden Alley, the counter-people/barristas/coffee-technicians sometimes will do as you suggest, and ask down the line if they can start another drip coffee, etc....but it still takes forever to get your order.

                      Like you, even being aware of the process BB uses, I don't understand why it take so long...there's a new Philz outlet near my office in SF Civic Center; they grind and filter for each order--talk about precious--but it doesn't take as long as BB...

                      1. re: Rapini

                        At the Mint Plaza I have always detected a little bit of aloofness from the staff. I didn't take it as attitude, just a bit of ignorance as to what was going on beyond the counter. That the process and the coffee is the most important thing. At the Roastery in JLS the single staffer had none of that tude, was just a process thing.

                        But I agree - I get in and out much faster at any of the Philz locations or Cole Coffee and they ahere to the same grind n' drip process.

                        I would hope that a BB trainer might see this and consider how to accelerate things, but honestly I don't think velocity is a goal that they at all shoot for.

                        1. re: edgrimley

                          "I don't think velocity is a goal that they at all shoot for....."

                          Tell that to my coffee jones...;-)

                    2. I happened to be walking by yesterday and tried an espresso. It was one of the best I've had outside of Rome. They actually make a proper ristretto as their default pull.

                      Blue Bottle Oakland
                      300 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I'd love a contrast with Local 123, if you're a ristretto fan.