HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
What are you cooking today?
TELL US

"Serious" coffee, 2010

twocents Feb 19, 2010 09:32 AM

Despite being a heavy coffee drinker, I have not too much been into the serious coffee scene. However, I've recent found that it has served nicely as an excuse for exploring some of the local area at leisure. I was hoping that we could create a thread that consolidates some of the places and opinions of people on the topic.

Recently, I have been to Blue Bottle, Ritual and Four Barrel Coffee. So yes, when I say "serious" coffee, I mean mostly institutions that also roast their own. However, I am prepared to be flexible on this point.

I'll start by noting that I have been to:

Blue Bottle Oakland
A small coffee/espresso cafe attached to what is now their main roasting/distribution facility (I think). Low key, I think I have had the best examples of their standard single-cup drip and espresso, in my limited experience.

Blue Bottle Mint Plaza
On Mint Plaza, off of 5th street near the Westfield Center (Nordstroms/Bloomingdales), this is the location where they have the famous Japanese cold brewing system and the halogen-driven vacuum pots. I had only standard drip and espresso here.

Blue Bottle Ferry Plaza
If I am not mistaken, they now have two outside stands on Saturdays, as well as the newer inside cafe.

Ritual on Valencia
Here I have had a standard cappucino and one of the single-cup drips.

Four Barrel
Here I have had a standard cup served out of an urn (which they brew in large french presses) and a standard cappucino.

I invite people to tell me what else I should try, both at these purveyors and at other places that I don't know about.

  1. twocents Feb 19, 2010 09:38 AM

    Ritual Specific Links
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/652022
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/626014

    1. twocents Feb 19, 2010 09:48 AM

      Blue Bottle Oakland
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/660865

      Blue Bottle at SFMOMA?
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/642666

      Blue Bottle Ferry Building
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/640681

      Four Barrel
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/566222
      at caffeinated comics
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/602208

      Clover machines?
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/631405
      Does Ritual still have any?

      The best espresso in San Francisco [?
      ]Sightglass? Serving Verve from Santa Cruz
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/646715

      12 Replies
      1. re: twocents
        r
        roster Feb 19, 2010 01:26 PM

        No bites on a coffee discussion today. Hmmm.

        For me the distinction is brewed coffee or espresso.

        For brewed coffee, I think Philz does a nice job, though I prefer to add my own cream and sugar thank you.

        For Espresso, my pick was Ritual (Stumptown Era)
        Now it would probably be Four barrel or Blue bottle. I think Blue Bottle has done a good job of making sure their numerous affiliates pull a good shot with their coffee.

        I will probably get slammed for offering a line away from chowhound, but www.coffeeratings.com is a guy that has investigated the espresso scene in the cite pretty thoroughly.

        1. re: roster
          rworange Feb 19, 2010 02:47 PM

          I don't see why you would get slammed. It is a good site.

          I'm not sure what you mean by serous. From your list it looks like the trendy-in coffee vendors who take themselves too serously, IMO, with a product that doesn't match the self-hype.

          I'm more into the old-style roasters who have been honing their craft over the decades.

          The Butler and the Chef in South Park serves Graffeo which remains my favoirte coffee to date. So, if you want to try a good version of that, go there.

          I did come across a roaster who could possibly surpass Graffeo in my estimation, but they are located in the North Bay. I'm assuming you only want SF suggestions.

          Cafe Roma has good beans. They are best for a straight cup of coffee rather than an espresso-type drink.

          Except for a few beans, I'm not a big fan of Blue Bottle. However, the bean they make for Bittersweet is one I like if it is matched with a chocolate dessert.

          Kara's Cupakes has Flying Goat coffee though the place who handles these beans best is Local 123 in Berkeley.

          When I was in Europe, Italy had the best coffee. I was never disappointed. Danilo's Bakery BaoNecci Caffè in Nprth Beach uses an Italian brand. While it might not be the ultimate cup, it is very pleasant.

          Going with the Italian theme, I have no clue what the bean is, but of all places, Alioto's in Fisherman's Wharf does a very good cappucino. Sit at the bar upstairs, have a cup and gaze out on the bay.

          The relatively new Tony's PIzza in North Beach has good coffee, but I'm not sure what bean they use. The cappuccino is one of the best in the city with a just right shot – not too strong or weak. It is topped with a similar just-right foam that provided frothy spoonfuls to enjoy at the end. It came with an excellent mini biscotti and an irregular cube of brown sugar.

          1. re: rworange
            twocents Feb 21, 2010 10:23 PM

            rworange, I would be happy to hear about your North Bay suggestion. It's true I don't get around as much as others, but you never know. Part of what has been motivating me to try the different coffees and cafes is just to have a reason, however slight, to stop here and there about the area and enjoy myself a little.

            I put "serious" in quotes because, yes, I am interested in these newer roasters for what the represent as newcomers and a certain point of view. Maybe it was a mistake, as I definitely wanted to solicit a range of opinions on what people consider worthy coffee experiences, and didn't want to bias things too much.

            This weekend I went to Local 123, largely on your recommendation in other posts. I was very favorably impressed with the two roasts I tried. One in particular I thought was almost perfect, but I've already forgotten the name. Fortunately, this is not too far out of my way, and I'll be back soon. The cafe itself is a pleasant and friendly seeming place. I enjoyed sitting in the back with my cup, in the "Laptop Free Zone." So, Flying Goat and Local 123 get a big thumbs up from me.

            Alerted by Pastryqueen below, I had a cup of Clover-brewed Ritual at Remedy. I've heard of these machines before, of course, but hadn't sampled from one yet. I very much enjoyed my cup. As of this weekend, the cafe is still in the final stages of build-out, and he's still serving from a cart at the front of the store, nevertheless already building a following. I'll definitely return. I think I heard him say he was hoping to be fully open in a week.

            I didn't really say if I liked the coffees that I've tried in my initial post, but I will start to do so once I feel up to it.

            Have you been to Catahoula lately? Maybe this also fits into this topic?

            1. re: twocents
              rworange Feb 22, 2010 08:50 AM

              As I was reading, I was thinking Catahoula. Yes, he's maybe the most interesting to me. He's been honing his roasting and the Mocha Java is something he's finally happy with.

              I am so glad he seems to be making it. It is not in a location where the coffee culture is a big thing. Besides being ok, customer-wise, he has a few local places selling his coffee such as Four Corners and The Baltic. He also sells to that dog park at Point Isabel. If you are up that way that is a good place to stop. He was saying they got serious coffee equipment.

              He's a great guy to talk to and I like his approach ... he's really into roasting but he doesn't take himself as seriously as others.Also he usually has some interesting little bean or another. He's also really into supporthing local everything from the Mexican restaurant across the street and other businesses to giving people who need a job ... a job.

              If you are in the East Bay you might try Moka. They use the same coffee that French Laundry uses and get interestings roasts.

              Near Bakesale Betty's there's a drive-thru coffee place which you would think means crap. For some unknow reason they are really good. They use Mr. Espresso which I personally consider awful, and it is the only place I liked.

              I'm moving in eight days (yikes) and so I'm just giving sketchy info that you can find through the restaurant database.

              Cafe Aquarious uses a bean no one else does and I like it quite a lot. It is in Emeryville. On that same street (65th) Bailey's (sp) serves Roasters Coffee or something like that. It is the same roaster that Chop Bar in the Jack London Square area offers. I'm not so into it as it reminds me of Ritual ... though in their earlier days. Chop Bar is open more than Baily's. So if you want to try that.

              There's Cole coffee but I don't think it is much and neither does my coffee loving friend. We might not have tried the right bean and the attitude of the joint puts me off.

              If you want some north bay recs I'll give you those. San Rafael has some interesting roasters ... Including a graffeo cafe where they serve it by the cup. Sebastopol for some unknown reason is a great coffee town.

              Glad to know what you are looking for. I try the new roasters along with every new one that opens. It just annoys me that some coffee people dismiss the long-time roasters and think the new guys have something far superior

              In a few weeks I'll be drinking Guatemalen beans at the source

          2. re: roster
            twocents Feb 21, 2010 10:30 PM

            Thanks for the link. I don't think linking out is generally frowned upon here, just when people seem to be promoting a site without really contributing or being helpful.

            Does anyone still serve Stumptown around here?

            I agree an important distinction is brewed or espresso; as I mention to rworange below I didn't want to bias things too much. I'll definitely try the original Philz. Black.

            There's a cafe next to Humphrey Slocombe advertising organic, fair trade coffee. Unfortunately, I've already forgotten what it's called. Does anybody know anything about it?

            1. re: twocents
              rworange Feb 22, 2010 08:55 AM

              Yeah, I don't have the name either. From what I've read here and on yelp ... not so much. Doesn't hurt to stop by though.

              1. re: twocents
                c
                chipman Mar 27, 2010 09:13 AM

                "Does anyone still serve Stumptown around here?"

                Since 4 Barrel is owned or partnered by Stumptown, and Jeremy was trained at Stumptown, you could say that 4 Barrel is Stumptown.

                1. re: chipman
                  Windy Mar 27, 2010 12:32 PM

                  Except that it's not. I like coffee made with Stumptown's beans much better.

                  Investors ≠ roaster.

                2. re: twocents
                  1
                  12172003 May 2, 2011 11:25 PM

                  I had Philz for the first time today. They asked how I like my coffee "dark, medium or light." I immediate response was "whatever is appropriate for that particular bean." Anyway, ended up getting Yirgacheffe. It was way overroasted destroying the classic characteristics of the coffee. While not completely charred like *$'s or Peets, it was far from enjoyable. Out of curiosity I was looking at their bags of beans. No roast date. That's a bad sign. In fact, a really bad sign. I asked how old the beans were they woman said "they are fresh." Well $*'s claims their coffee lasts 6, 8 or 10 (or more) months. An espresso with anything more than 2 weeks after roast is waste. In short, I won't go back.

                  In the South Bay area:
                  Sweet Shop for Verve roasted on Wednesdays and delivered on Thursdays
                  Red Rocks for 4 Barrel delivered on IIRC Monday and Friday.
                  Bellamo for usually excellent Seattle roasters. Not sure when they get their deliveries.
                  Barefoot.

                  Save your $5 for a cup from *$'s, buy good beans, great grinder (Baratza Vario or used Mazzer Super Jolly with new burrs), a chemex and a little technique will blow away 99.99% of the coffee places around here and save you money over the long haul once you get over the sticker shock of the grinder.

                  -----
                  Red Rock Cafe
                  1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

                  1. re: 12172003
                    bbulkow May 3, 2011 08:37 AM

                    I was also surprised at Philz when they asked me how sweet I wanted my coffee. In my world, good coffee extracted well is sweet. They add sugar for you, I'm guessing because Healthy People don't add sugar to coffee. I said no. I got a basic Philz blend, whatever they call it, adulterated with cacao. It wasn't the kind of pure coffee experience I get at home or at Red Rock, I found the cup very enjoyable - given that at every other place I have to add two shots to standard coffee just to have it taste like coffee. I think, simply, my expectations were lower, and I was swayed by the very pleasant surroundings.

                    -----
                    Red Rock Cafe
                    1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

                    1. re: bbulkow
                      Windy May 3, 2011 08:53 AM

                      They add sugar because that's their style--like a New Orleans coffee at Blue Bottle, or a Vietnamese iced coffee.

                      It's not my style of coffee either. But I agree with Sugartoof's comment below; if you drink coffee with milk and sugar, tasting it black won't help you find a roast or cafe that suits you.

                3. re: roster
                  r
                  rln Apr 26, 2010 12:56 PM

                  I think the Ritual at Flora Grubb Nursery still has the Clover machince.. I hope so. I always love getting the coffee there.

              2. pastryqueen Feb 19, 2010 04:34 PM

                Sightglass, Remedy on Telegraph (which brews ritual and has a Clover machine), Philz - some don't think of it as "serious" coffee because he only does the individual drip but I think the coffee is delicious, Blue Bottle (really depends on the blend - I have had quite a few that I did not like), and a little cart outside of Farmer Joe's on Fruitvale where the owner roasts his own beans and makes his own blends. . Obama Blend is amazing. . he uses an Aero press which makes a very fine cup of coffee.

                5 Replies
                1. re: pastryqueen
                  twocents Feb 21, 2010 10:24 PM

                  The Farmer Joe's tip intrigues me. Thanks, and I will try to check it out. Thanks also for the Remedy tip.

                  Sightglass sounds interesting, and I'm going to hit that one too.

                  1. re: pastryqueen
                    twocents Mar 26, 2010 05:48 PM

                    Remedy

                    I've been to Remedy a few more times since my last post. The cafe is much closer to being done now. Last weekend he was advertising prepaid cards in large denominations (250-1000 dollars) representing a discount to redeemable value. It is seems explicitly to be for help in generating funds to finish the build out.

                    I am a fan of the Clover coffee. The resulting cup has a noticeably lighter body than an equivalent French press or single-cup filter drip, but doesn't seem to lack any of the flavor. Still serving Ritual only; I wonder if he plans to vary once he opens, or if he may roast some himself.

                    1. re: twocents
                      twocents Apr 24, 2010 07:26 PM

                      Remedy is much closer to being done now. He's serving from behind his counter, and there's tables and chairs and a front sitting area now. Very pleasant on this warm day.

                      1. re: twocents
                        t
                        TopoTail Apr 24, 2010 10:26 PM

                        I was there today as well. Nice open space, and I loved the turntable and tube amp pumping out the Talking Heads. Definitely a "serious" coffee destination.

                         
                    2. re: pastryqueen
                      twocents Mar 26, 2010 05:56 PM

                      Sightglass.

                      Sightglass has a $14,000 Slayer espresso machine, built in the USA. It's cool looking and my companion enjoyed her espresso. I had an east african coffee brewed in a Chemex, not strictly single-cup drip, but they seem geared to brew a fixed volume (>2 cups) at time, even if you just order one. The guy told me the proportions, but I've forgotten. They use a scale an everything, both for the beans and the water.

                      Sightglass is also still building out, at least as of a few weeks ago, but it's going to be a big space when they're done. In the meantime they're serving out of their front porch. Will return when I get chance, hopefully to take a look at their roaster etc.

                    3. v
                      vulber Feb 19, 2010 07:27 PM

                      Two others to mention:

                      De La Paz (no cafe at their roastery, but available at Stable Cafe and a few other places, phenomenal).

                      One that I've also gotten into recently is Rodger's Coffee and Tea, right on 20th between Mission and Valencia

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: vulber
                        twocents Feb 21, 2010 10:31 PM

                        Thanks for the tips. I'll follow up if I make it there.

                      2. t
                        TopoTail Mar 26, 2010 02:10 PM

                        I may have missed it, but I don't believe anyone here has mentioned Modern Coffee in the old Tribune building in Oakland. It was started by a couple of Peet's alums a few months ago and is offering customers the chance to sample different coffees each week. When I was there a few weeks ago they were serving Ecco Caffe espresso (Santa Rosa) and Intelligentsia's Black Cat (Chicago) espresso. Brewed coffee was The Sermon from Verve (Santa Cruz). Anyway, anyone interested in sampling a variety of espressos might want to make a habit of visiting Modern Coffee.

                        -----
                        Ecco Caffe
                        90 Timothy Rd, Santa Rosa, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: TopoTail
                          twocents Mar 26, 2010 05:43 PM

                          Thanks for the tip, I'll check it out.

                        2. twocents Mar 26, 2010 06:03 PM

                          Verve at Frog Hollow

                          Line there is kind of ridiculous on Saturdays after 9 am. They are brewing with large press pots. I liked it, but am looking forward to trying Verve at some other locations.

                          I think I like filter drip better than French press. I know it's not really orthodox, but by now it's pretty clear to me my preference. Setting aside differences in serving time, i.e. when it's brewed vs. when I drink, I feel like the French press product has a more noticeable rate of change in taste, and deteriorates relatively quickly. I like the stability of flavor the drip (or Clover, which I would argue is more like drip than French press, the argument would probably hinge on the effective filtration performance of the Clover's (stainless steel?) fritted metal filter). That said, I do still like the French press product, especially on an individual basis (e.g. single press pot in restaurants- Ritual at Beretta was a recent excellent example for me.)

                          1. twocents Mar 26, 2010 06:14 PM

                            Local 123 Update

                            Sometime between my first visit and a weekend or two ago, they switched from a more manual single-cup filter to a more specific scale-based method, where, as I described above with Sightglass, they weigh both the beans and the water added for ultimate reproducibility.

                            still good. I like Flying Goat- it's not "Third Wave" like Ritual et al., it's a stronger City or Full City roast, somewhat de-emphasizing the varietal character of the beans, but increasing the caramelization and sweetness. The Don Mayo they were serving was particularly good, but they have moved on to something else. I like this place a lot.

                            -----
                            Local 123
                            2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: twocents
                              t
                              TopoTail Mar 26, 2010 11:48 PM

                              I'm a huge fan of 123. There are several new cafes along San Pablo. Checked out Actual Cafe at San Pablo and Alcatraz the other day, and while it's a very comfortable and charming space with what appeared to be good pastries/food, the barista didn't know how to texture the milk; my cappuccino consisted of a weak, slightly bitter shot with milk that had been warmed and had a bit of foam floating on the top. They use McLaughlin Coffee.

                              On the other side of the street about a block north is TribU. Not sure whose coffee they're using. My macchiato wasn't the bitter dreck you get at most cafes and was drinkable, but definitely not "serious" coffee.

                              What defines "serious" coffee? For espresso, bottomless portafilters are a good sign, because if the barista doesn't know what s/he is doing, the coffee will spit all over the place, as it did when I visited SubRosa (still, my macchiato was decent).

                              Latte art in itself is not significant, except that you can't do it unless you've textured the milk properly, and if you haven't textured the milk, it's just hot milk (if you're lucky, scorched milk if you're not).

                              Grinding and preparing brewed coffee to order are also a very good sign. (It kills me that the Trieste uses Chemexes to make their brewed coffee but sets them on hot plates, thereby immediately destroying whatever advantage was gained from the prep.)

                              1. re: TopoTail
                                1
                                12172003 Mar 27, 2010 12:27 AM

                                The worst you can do with milk is what 99% of places do, make beaten egg whites with stiff peaks. YUK! It kills me when a "barrista" intentionally scoops some on top. uggg.

                                BTW, Ecco is moving to SF proper. No idea when but having one of the top 5 roasters in the US move to SF proper will certainly raise the bar.

                                -----
                                Ecco
                                322 Lorton Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010

                                1. re: 12172003
                                  c
                                  chipman Mar 27, 2010 08:44 AM

                                  Your link was to another Ecco. Will the real Ecco please stand up?

                                  http://www.foodgps.com/andrew-barnett...

                                  1. re: chipman
                                    t
                                    TopoTail Mar 27, 2010 09:14 AM

                                    Chow Hound added that link automatically, along with another one that I noticed was wrong and deleted immediately. The real Ecco Caffe site is here:
                                    http://www.eccocaffe.com/catalog/inde...

                                    -----
                                    Ecco Caffe
                                    90 Timothy Rd, Santa Rosa, CA

                                  2. re: 12172003
                                    t
                                    TopoTail Mar 27, 2010 09:28 AM

                                    Oh, and 12172003, you're SO right about the beaten egg whites phenomenon. It's a real bad sign. When the milk is properly textured it is all the same consistency--no foam floating on the top, egg white-like or not. And it tastes like liquid velvet.

                                2. re: twocents
                                  a
                                  abstractpoet Apr 24, 2010 07:56 PM

                                  Not that it matters -- good coffee is good coffee -- but Local 123 definitely self-identifies as "3rd wave." I was under the impression that they don't serve anything that's past a medium roast. And if you talk to the baristas and/or owners, they're definitely all about the individual bean characteristics...Don't know about Flying Goat as a whole, though.

                                  I'm more of a cappuccino guy, but for drip I like a fuller bodied coffee -- so I really miss the Sumatra they had when they first opened. A lot of the other coffees are too fruity/acidic for my taste. Of the coffees in the regular rotation right now, I'm kind of partial to the Mordocofe. I like the Don Mayo too.

                                  -----
                                  Local 123
                                  2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                  1. re: abstractpoet
                                    twocents May 2, 2010 05:47 PM

                                    I wouldn't consider myself any kind of expert, but compared to say, Ritual, Four Barrel or Verve, the Flying Goat roasts that I've had at Local 123 are very noticeably darker. That said, they are short of the varying French roasts- light to dark- that typify Peet's or Starbucks (to me). That said, Second Wave vs. Third Wave doesn't mean to me the Starbucks/Peet's vs. smaller independents question. To me, Third Wave implies a strong concern with expressing the full varietal character of the beans, which I think militates against anything darker than a City roast. However, I may be suffering from a misconception of what "Third Wave" really means. Certainly the weight-based method of single-cup brewing implies a strong focus on reproducibility and thus optimization of the brewing process, which may be another aspect of this. Incidentally, my first two visits to Local 123, they were not using the scales (See my Mar 26 post above). I don't know if they started that method around then, or if they had stopped temporarily.

                                    I still like it, whatever it is.

                                    -----
                                    Local 123
                                    2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                    1. re: twocents
                                      a
                                      abstractpoet May 2, 2010 06:35 PM

                                      Well, the "Third Wave" coffee folks definitely pride themselves on the care they take with the brewing process (whether that's manifested through the use of scales or crazy siphon-brewing gadgetry or whatever), though I do think to define that level of attention as something that's "new" is probably somewhat offensive to good independent coffee shops and roasters that have been around for a while now.

                                      The scales are new -- probably within the past month or so. I'm not enough of a connoisseur to taste the difference (certainly not without trying it both ways back to back), but the 123 gals definitely seemed psyched about the change.

                                      Semi-recent article about the 3rd Wave, as it pertains to the East Bay:

                                      http://www.eastbayexpress.com/gyrobas...

                                      1. re: abstractpoet
                                        twocents May 4, 2010 11:55 PM

                                        Thanks for the link. I first encountered the term in an article referring to this blog post:

                                        http://www.slayerespresso.com/2010/01...

                                        At least I think so... I don't think I knew about Slayer before I started this thread, but I could be wrong.

                                        I certainly could be overdetermining the meaning of "third wave." At any rate, I will continue to try places and update this thread; work has not been kind of late.

                                    2. re: abstractpoet
                                      escargot3 Jun 2, 2010 08:03 PM

                                      Ah that explains it!
                                      I adored Local 123 when they first opened, and now less so.
                                      And I'm really into Sumatra beans...

                                      -----
                                      Local 123
                                      2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                      1. re: escargot3
                                        a
                                        abstractpoet Jun 2, 2010 11:03 PM

                                        The Flying Goat Sumatra (Dolok Sanggul) is back in the regular rotation at Local 123 presently, and their Cauca Inza (a Colombian bean) is also great for those who like an earthier, more full-bodied drip coffee.

                                        -----
                                        Local 123
                                        2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                  2. s
                                    sugartoof Mar 27, 2010 12:36 PM

                                    I second cafes with De La Paz beans, and Sight Glass if you appreciate diverse flavors.
                                    La Colombe, Graffeo beans or Roma is you like a classic old style italian roast.
                                    Blue Bottle if you like an in between. Try the New Guinea.

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

                                    1. a
                                      arlenemae Apr 26, 2010 08:14 AM

                                      If you're willing to make the trek to the South Bay, my coffee-loving friends all love Barefoot Coffee in Santa Clara: http://barefootcoffee.com/

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: arlenemae
                                        bbulkow May 2, 2010 11:03 PM

                                        When I had my big espresso machine in an office environment that enjoyed a good cup, Barefoot was 50/50 with Blue Bottle. I prefer BB Temescal on Friday. (Wednesday/Thursday doesn't have the depth, Monday is weak). Barefoot is more --- sticky, and consistant. After grinding, it has a peculiar deep nutty stickiness that makes for an excellent cup, but never matched the crema of a peak BB pull. The Barefoot was just more consistent overall, never the high peaks.

                                        I found Ritual one-dimensional. This was slightly pre-four-barrel.

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

                                        1. re: arlenemae
                                          s
                                          sugartoof May 4, 2010 12:24 AM

                                          Barefoot can be found all over the city now. The beans are available at Bi-Rite, Rainbow, and the long list of cafe using them now. I have a feeling it's better from the actual Barefoot location though.

                                        2. a
                                          abstractpoet Apr 27, 2010 08:42 AM

                                          For a splurge, right now at Local 123 they've got a batch of Esmerelda La Hacienda's legendary "Gesha" coffee. I was initially skeptical--it's crazy expensive, at $5 a cup!--but here's a case where a product actually lives up to the hype.

                                          The tasting notes describe the coffee as having citrus and jasmine undertones, so I was afraid it'd be too fruity and acidic. But no! I'm still sipping between sentences, and this is as smooth and rich a cup of coffee as I've ever tasted -- and it actually gets creamier and more intense as it cools down. "Velvety" was the term the barista used, and I think that's apt.

                                          Like I said, I'm mostly a cappuccino guy, but this might be the best cup of drip coffee I've ever had. Incredibly, amazingly delicious.

                                          I think they'll only have the Gesha for a limited time, since apparently the stuff is super-rare, but that might be a good thing. I don't think I can afford a $5/cup habit on my budget. And I really might be tempted to buy it every single day.

                                          More info about the Gesha (or "Geisha") here: http://www.haciendaesmeralda.com/Theg...

                                          -----
                                          Local 123
                                          2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                          1. twocents Jun 2, 2010 12:56 AM

                                            May Update:

                                            I've been going to Subrosa regularly since reading the East Bay Express article linked to by abstractpoet in this thread. They serve Four Barrel, and I have very much enjoyed the French Press brewed coffee they serve as the default option. It varies from day to day exactly which bean they are offering. They of course offer various espresso and also individual drip options. It's really more of a stand in a storefront than a full cafe.

                                            My experiences recently underscore how difficult it is to really make apples to apples comparisons between beans, roasts, brews and therefore coffee shops/cafes. In another post I mention how I prefer paper filter drip to french press, yet my current favorite is the French press at Subrosa.

                                            I also recently revisited Frog Hollow at the Ferry Building, and found their Verve brewed in French press merely ok (again), but later that same day I revisited Sightglass where I had a wonderful Verve blend brewed as individual drip, probably the best cup of coffee I've had in several months. Sightglass by the way is still building out, but they say they are much closer to opening... the big Probat is hooked up to some kind of smoke-scrubbing chimney, but there's not too much other cabinetry in yet.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: twocents
                                              s
                                              sugartoof Jun 2, 2010 02:38 AM

                                              It's true, Sightglass turns Verve into some of the best coffee in the city. It's just not as good anywhere else. They're doing a deep, deep build out though. What an undertaking.

                                              Was it a Verve blend, or was it a Sightclass blend of Verve, just out of curiosity ?

                                              1. re: sugartoof
                                                twocents Jun 3, 2010 06:39 PM

                                                I believe it was Verve's "The 1950 Blend." But don't bet the house on it.

                                                1. re: twocents
                                                  Pei May 6, 2011 08:50 PM

                                                  Bought the 1950 at Farm: Table the other day, but they don't use it in their espresso. Just thought I'd throw that info out there. Sightglass is great the few times I've ventured down there, and their new space looks very cool. Farm:Table is good to flat out amazing, depending who's pulling.

                                            2. bbulkow May 1, 2011 01:00 PM

                                              I finally got a chance to try Philz in Palo Alto, and I was very impressed. They have their entire "brew to order" done quite well (at a price). I got a "drip mocha", and with no sweetener the taste was solid and rich. Sure, the whole thing took 10 minutes, but I can't think of a better drip cup north of Red Rock.

                                              -----
                                              Red Rock Coffee
                                              201 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                              1. scarmoza May 2, 2011 08:36 PM

                                                "I invite people to tell me what else I should try, both at these purveyors and at other places that I don't know about."

                                                You should be drinking the coffee as pure as you can get it in order to taste (and feel) the actual coffee and not the milk/cream, sugar, or other flavorings.

                                                Both Barefoot and Ritual still offer free cuppings. It's a great way to learn about coffee and coffee tasting while finding the coffee that you like best.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: scarmoza
                                                  s
                                                  sugartoof May 2, 2011 11:02 PM

                                                  Then again, if you're looking for a coffee that suits your personal tastes, rather than approaching it as a wine tasting experience, it's best to taste the coffee the way you would drink it...some coffees handle sugar/milk better than others.

                                                  Cuppings are great just to learn the general profiles of a region, so that you're more familiar with their characteristics.

                                                  1. re: scarmoza
                                                    twocents May 5, 2011 06:15 PM

                                                    I switched to black coffee in the early 90's. I am still not much of an espresso guy, but have tried to sample some more recently in the wake of a couple trips to Italy. These days I brew single-drip in a "Clever Coffee Dripper" with Filtropa paper. I am one of those who do prefer paper filter to French Press most of the time. My current favorite roasters are probably Intelligentsia (LA), Four Barrel, Verve, Ritual, Roast Co. and Flying Goat.

                                                    Should we start a "Serious" Coffee 2011? On the other hand, this thread does have a lot of good suggestions.

                                                    1. re: twocents
                                                      scarmoza May 5, 2011 06:48 PM

                                                      Ok, then you're already a serious coffee drinker.
                                                      ;)
                                                      I really think it would be nice to have a coffee board on chowhound, don't you?

                                                      1. re: twocents
                                                        bbulkow May 5, 2011 07:17 PM

                                                        They use the Clever at Red Rock in Mountain View, which caused me to buy one. It's a great idea, but seems to take a long time at Red Rock. I'm fonder of my Aeropress (like a bastard french press with filter paper). I jawed with the guy at RR about the difference, and he thinks the Clever is more consistent for his use. I think the Clever is better for 4-barrel beans, which generally are varieties in the "wine"-y direction (they roast a lot of styles, but I think they're stronger in that direction). At home I used a variety of beans, mostly not quite as good as the 4-barrel, and aeropress is very consistent - at least, the way I use it.

                                                        Is there a place in the bay area that commercially uses the Aeropress? I know the Aerobie offices are on San Antonio Rd.

                                                        -----
                                                        Red Rock Cafe
                                                        1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

                                                        Aerobie
                                                        744 San Antonio Rd # 15, Palo Alto, CA

                                                        1. re: bbulkow
                                                          Windy May 5, 2011 07:53 PM

                                                          an aeropress is more than a French press with paper. As designed a French press is like a teapot without a strainer. Although you get the benefit of full immersion of coffee or tea, the bottom turns bitter esp if you don't pour it our fast enough.

                                                          I love my aeropress; truly a superior design and the proof is in the taste.

                                                          1. re: Windy
                                                            ssfire May 5, 2011 09:19 PM

                                                            Tootsie's Cafe offers a moka pot, which produces a very rich brew with the Dansei coffee they serve - I definitely recommend it.

                                                            -----
                                                            Tootsie's at the Stanford Barn
                                                            700 Welch Rd Ste 118, Palo Alto, CA

                                                    2. a
                                                      abstractpoet May 3, 2011 08:29 AM

                                                      Since this thread got bumped, I'll mention that I'm enjoying an outstanding cappuccino at Remedy at this very moment. Maybe better than Local 123's, with great intense flavor.

                                                      Great scones here too and a little bit less of the laptop crowd (I say, as I clack away on my laptop).

                                                      -----
                                                      Remedy Coffee
                                                      4316 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA

                                                      Local 123
                                                      2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                      Show Hidden Posts