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Oct 29, 2009 10:30 AM

First time to Philz. Definitely not in love.

I just learned that there is a Philz Coffee at VanNess and Eddy (apparently it's been there since July--those guys need to work on their neighborhood advertising. I work in the state building and had no idea).

Anyway, I've read about Philz here for years so I went to check it out. The coffee is great, but I don't get it. The whole thing was sort of a mess. The board describing the different blends is in front of the counter so it's impossible to read because everyone is standing in front of it. If my friend hadn't reminded me, I'd have left without paying because it took so long to get my coffee I forgot I hadn't already paid.

But my big gripe is that the guy making my coffee asked if I wanted cream. I said, "a little half and half." What I got was a LOT of heavy cream. I have an oil slick on top of my coffee. It's delicious, but way too rich to finish.

Back to Blue Bottle for me. I much prefer to just be served a great cup of what they are brewing that day. And to doctor it myself.

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

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  1. You're not alone. I went to the Philz location in the Castro before a movie a couple of months ago after my friend insisted that we had to go there for the amazing coffee experience. I was curious, as another friend who lives near the one in the Mission also raved about it.

    We ordered two different blends --- one with milk, one with cream so we each could try two new tastes. My friend was in heaven, but I was less convinced. Honestly, I couldn't taste the coffee in either drink since both of them were mostly milk. I was unable to really see the difference between the cream and milk coffees except that the cream was heavier, obviously. It wasn't until towards the end of the cups, which were fairly large, that I started to taste the coffee but by that time, I was pretty full from all the milk.

    Next time, I'm getting it black or with a very light hand on the milk to try the coffee. The service was fine, friendly and welcoming, and the space was cute. I'm rooting for them, but I like dark roasts or medium roasts that you can actually taste, so we'll see. For the record, I'm on the fence about Blue Bottle, too -- sometimes great, sometimes not so much.

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: melisky

      I had the same problem with over-creamed coffee in my first two visits to the Van Ness location, but it can be remedied if you are adamant that you want only the merest stain of cream. They add the milk/cream behind the counter and do not have separate carafes that allow customers to add their own. One barista actually shook up the coffee and cream to produce a bit of foam before pouring the mixture into my thermos. Bottom line: While I would otherwise find the elaborate Wine Spectator-like descriptions of the different beans and blends overly-precious and the over-creaming annoying, the underlying, unadulterated coffee is very good--rich (each cup is ground to order and they use a hefty amount of beans per cup) and flavorful.

    2. Whether or not you ask for cream or half-n-half, they use Berkeley Farms Manufacturing Cream. That stuff is super-rich, and it's also off the charts in terms of saturated fat content: 4 grams of saturated fat per Tablespoon: that's even more than heavy whipping cream.

      Their iced mint mojito consists of coffee, fresh mint, and about 3 Tablespoons of the manufacturing cream. It's fantastic, but it's really more like melted mint ice cream with a dash of coffee. And it has more saturated fat than a McDonald's double cheeseburger.

      However, I am a big fan of their Tesora coffee blend: I ask for it black, and I bring my own soy-based half-n-half that I get at Trader Joe's.

      Philz Coffee
      3191 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94306

      1 Reply
      1. re: ssfire

        Wow. That explains the oil slick that appeared on top of my coffee after about 10 minutes.

        I might go back and try it black next time I don't have the motivation to get all the way over to Hayes Valley. I took a look at their website and I find it weird that, being so proud of having produced smooth blends of coffee, they recommend on your first visit that you allow the baristas to add both cream *and* sugar.