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Where to buy a pound of coffee?

My favorite and nearest coffee joint is having some issues as the owner just had a baby and the staff is loopy alone. Can't even get a hold of the owner about the situation.

So I need coffee. Don't want Peets, Ritual or Coles unless there is some decent recent roast/bean that would be worth exploring. Blue Bottle under no circumstances unless they will finally grind the beans.

Any roast/bean is fine. My tastes seem to be changed and ruined after a year in Guatemala drinking instant coffee. As God is my witness I will never drink Nescafe again.

Anyway, I'm interested in particular roasts rather than just beoing pointed to a shop. I guess I'm leaning toward Flying Goat type undetermined, but if there is anything new and great out there, I'd be interested ... or any old reliable ... anything ... that sample of TJ's gingerbread coffee was tasting good ... save me.

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  1. I dont remember where you are in the North Bay but if you're near Sonoma my husband who is coffee drinker in our house and is fussy loves The Barking Dog - just opposite Mission Inn or also beside Whole Foods in Sonoma. They roast their own beans so you could always check with them what days they roast too

    2 Replies
    1. re: sonomajom

      I have had mixed results with Barking Dog. Could you recommend one type that is good. I might be in Sonoma this weekend, but don't want to throw money at a guess. Seriously, BD has been so uneven that I don't even want to buy a cup to check out if it is something I like. IIRC, they do a holiday roast. Has your husband tried that? If not, maybe sure, I'll throw a few bucks at the holiday roast to give it a test drive.

      1. re: rworange

        Barking Dog makes great coffee. I would not say they have mixed results. Your experience might be due to date of roast. They roast on certain days. The roasting facility is at Barking Dog in Boyes Springs California...a few miles from the marketplace shop. The marketplace shop is under new management but still carries barking dog roasts.

        For best beans go direct to barking dog. If you like darker roasts I recommend a blend of french roast and black lab. A 50/50 is always good.

        Barking dog makes fine coffee. I think it's pretty darn good. The Italian style roast is the best if you like darker full bodied stuff.

    2. Check out Church Street Grocerteria. They work with a local coffee distributor to create their own blends. They are all excellent but the Rocket Fuel is the best and the one that smells oh-so-good. They sell out frequently and usually have to order more. I think their custom-filled bags are a bit fresher but they do have pre-sealed 1-pounders in the store as well. Nice guys there.

      Update.. forgot to add the link: http://g.co/maps/sx7xu


      2 Replies
      1. re: billraymond

        Cool. Thanks. I'm going to be in SF this week. Rocket Fuel sounds like it might be what I'm looking for. At one time a strong brew was my choice, but it seems lating I like milder coffees equally,.

        1. re: rworange

          Great and FYI my brain is not firing too well today (maybe need some caffiene :-) but I just looked in the cabinet and it's Jet Fuel. You would likely have figured that out though. Enjoy!

      2. I think you get to Berkeley Bowl regularly, and they have a good selection of beans (and a grinder).

        8 Replies
        1. re: ernie in berkeley

          Do you have any you like and buy regularily.

          I'm not looking for recs about where to buy coffee, but specific types of brews people like to drink.

          For examle, I detest the atmosphere of Cole's on my one visit there. Didn't think much of whatever cup of coffee it was. However, maybe there is something actually good there that I missed.

          One of my favorite coffees is Graffeo Dark Roast, but suprisingly a recent purchase left me underwhelmed. However, I never bought it at the San Rafael store before and maybe I need to get it in SF

          BTW, the Starbucks Christmas blend is beyond god awful ... unless the inspiration is the coal in Santa's stocking. The Anniversary blens was actually good, but not so good that I'd buy a pound of the beans. Just so no one misunderstands ... I'm not a Starbucks fan. However very early in the morning it is usually that or McDonald's.

          1. re: rworange

            My taste in coffee isn't very nuanced, so I'm happy with the 3-pound bags of Guatemalan beans at Costco, about $12 as I recall. No grinder there, I think.

              1. re: ernie in berkeley

                I'm a major league snob, but we are using Costco in the office and I rather like it. I'm beyond shocked.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  I get the SF Bay brand French Roast and EVERYONE loves it. I serve it to guests and they have no idea I'm spending only about $5.50/lb and at Costco to boot.

                  I have tried 'most all the artisanal brands and always come back to this. I especially hate waiting in line at the farmers' market for Blue Bottle--something I have to do sometimes if shopping with someone. It's always less flavorful than the Costco stuff.

                  It is all 3 lb bags, far as I can see. But I keep it airtight in a snap-on container and it lasts. I have not tried anything but French.

                  1. re: rccola

                    I just tried the Ecco coffee for the first time, and it is better - but what a cost difference!

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      Cost difference compared to what? Seems to me that other high quality specialty coffees are in the same price range.

                      1. re: scarmoza

                        Compared to the Costco beans at work which really aren't that bad, or compared to peets / philz. I think the steps are $8, $11, $20 per pound.

                        I agree that BB, FB, Ecco, ... are all in the same league, price wise, that shift to the 12oz bags was good for them, I go through a bag at home pretty quick.

          2. Flying Goat is now our go to coffee. Right now we are drinking and enjoying El Salvador Siberia. They will grind for a French Press.

            We buy ours at Acre Coffee in Petaluma and they get the grind perfect, as does the Flying Goat location in downtown Santa Rosa.

            1. Graffeo on upper Columbus in North Beach is where I go. Don't expect a lot of choices. They just sell Graffeo coffee. I get the dark roast; I'm not sure what else they have.

              While you're in the neighborhood, drop into Caffè Roma back down Columbus a little way on the East side. They have a few choices if you want some variety.

              BTW, Graffeo has a San Rafael location.

              8 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                Graffeo also has a light roast, organic coffee and decaf. They will blend any mix of beans on request.

                The Graffeo Dark Roast has been my favorite for years. However I just went to the San Rafael location for the first time and it just wasn't the same, so I'll buy some in SF next time I'm there and see if it is just a ma tter of location.

                It has been years since I've been to Cafe Roma. I've liked the coffee in the past. I don't remember which bean I liked the best though and need a rec if someone has a favorite there.

                1. re: rworange

                  I like the Graffeo dark roast as well (I live just a few blocks from their SF store).

                  I know it's not a local roaster, but I like the Cost Plus World Market Kenya AA (described as Dark Roast, Light/Medium body, Bright Flavor with Earthy nuances). http://www.worldmarket.com/product/in...
                  There are grinders you can use in the store. If you join their club, you get a few bag ever ten bags, and on Wednesday you get 2 for 1 credit. Occasionally, they have a buy one bag get one bag free deal too.
                  I switched over to the cost plus coffee for cost cutting reasons.
                  We have Verve, Four Barrel, Blue bottle beans at work...I don't like any of them..though at this point, I am incline to think it's the machine that is the problem. I think the water is too hot.

                  1. re: gnomatic

                    If it is the machine, more than likely the water is not hot enough. However, since you pre grind the beans at the store, your coffee is being brewed with stale beans and will not taste any good under any circumstances

                    1. re: poser

                      I buy whole beans, as I grind them at home.

                      At work we have burr grinders, and we only grind what we used. They supposedly calibrated them to the proper grind & amount for our machines. Due to the amount of people on my floor, beans are replenished almost daily.
                      Having said that, I tried Blue Bottle (at their Ferry terminal building outlet and the MoMA location) a few times, didn't care for it. I tried the four barrel beans making it myself on the work machine, and the barista (including a rep from four barrel who was in to check on things)...again..not great.

                      1. re: gnomatic

                        The grind fineness (ie calibration) and less so the temperature have tweaked on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. 1 degree Celsius makes a very pronounced change in the coffee. And that is with great and fresh beans and a great grinder. That is why most coffee shops are horrendous.

                  2. re: rworange

                    My wife and I visit SF yearly, start every morning at Cafe Roma........order
                    6 to 10 lbs of their Sicilian Gold maybe 4 times a year. Real dark...love it!

                    1. re: salmotrutta79

                      Thanks. It has been so long since I've been to Cafe Roma, I forgot what I used to order there and the thought of going through all their coffee again was overwhelming. Will give that one a try.

                      1. re: rworange

                        I had an espresso from Cafe Roma last week, and it was better than decent. But the beans I bought to take home: a half pound of Blue Bottle's roman espresso roast.

                2. I like Ether and Ambrossia from Philz. They are available too at whole foods, albeit as whole beans only.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: M_and_H

                    I like the Ambrosia from Philz too, and just bought a pound. I regretted it, however, because I also bought a cup of coffee made with the Silken Splendor and fell in love with that immediately. Wish I'd bought a pound of that instead.

                    The SS is a medium roast, but what's incredible about it is that it has a definite melon aftertaste. Really very interesting, because it starts off as a perfectly respectable cup of joe, but the fresh clean fruity aftertaste goes on and on..

                    1. re: Pei

                      Philz describes their "Ether" coffee as such:

                      "Among the darkest blends available at Philz. Appropriately named, this blend is not for the faint of heart. The ether blend is dark, oily, with charcoal tones and a strong clean finish. One of the strongest tasting blends at Philz."

                      I can't believe a food supplier would proudly describe their offerings as having a "charcoal" taste. What would your reaction be if you opened a menu at a steak house that read "We proudly burn our filets into a carbonized mess nearly indistinguishable in taste and texture from 10 year old charcoal soaked in lighter fluid." 'nuff said.

                      1. re: 12172003

                        i'm sure they forego the lighter fluid and use a charcoal chimney ;-)

                        1. re: 12172003

                          I think they probably meant that slightly sweet wisp of burning wood charcoal that is slowly heating up permeating your nose as you eagerly stand next to it with your tongs tightly gripping the marinated flank steak.

                          1. re: 12172003

                            Strangely, there are a lot of people in the Bay Area who favor this profile. I believe many consumers (wrongly) equate the darkest roasts with high caffeine - because the words bold and strong are often used in the description. They don't know that the longer the coffee is roasted, the more the caffeine is burned off during the roast and that lighter roasts have a higher caffeine content than darker roasts.

                            1. re: scarmoza

                              I think the inverse ratio between roast darkness and caffeine is pretty well known.

                              It's not at all strange that people here like dark roasts. Peet's started here in 1966 and Graffeo has been around since 1935.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                "I think the inverse ratio between roast darkness and caffeine is pretty well known"
                                I didn't know that.
                                Thank you sensai.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I think that the (former?) fascination with dark roast might have been a response to the watered down flavors of mid America that many people grew up with. Similarly for dark beer and big red wines. We're finally getting over this in recent years.

                                  Ten years ago, I became friendly with a new immigrant from Ireland to San Francisco. He had lots of questions about America for me. One was, "Why do Americans like dark beer so much." He thought Guinness was fine on occasion, but not every day. As I recall, his favorite local brew was Sierra Navada Pale Ale.

                                  1. re: jman1

                                    Over 10 million glasses of GUINNESS® stout are enjoyed every single day around the world, and 1,883,200,000 pints are sold every year - that's 1.8 billion, to put it another way.
                                    I'm sure that "on occasion" meant every other day.

                                    1. re: wolfe

                                      Or, it might have meant, drinking 6 or 8 on that one day a week. ;-)

                                2. re: scarmoza

                                  Not only that, but espresso has a lower proportion of caffeine compared to other brewing methods.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    How do you measure that? Based on amount of beans? Volume of resulting beverage? Something else?

                                    As a percent of volume of beverage, I've always seen that espresso is much higher. But, you drink fewer ounces, so it's less caffeine overall. Probably more correct to compare the amount of beans used.

                                    Here is one reference:


                                    1. re: jman1

                                      "Proportion" is a ratio. There are no units of measure.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        What's on the opposite side of the ratio from caffeine in your proportion?

                                        Actually, I had to look up proportion. Mathematically, it's two ratios equal to each other. Not sure that is how it's used in conversation. One still needs two parts to a ratio. In this case, caffeine to something (water, beans, brewed coffee, etc.).

                                        I'm also not sure that I understand what you mean by "no units". I guess that's true if both sides of the ratio have the same dimension. Otherwise, one would still need units.

                                        1. re: jman1

                                          The units are arbitrary. Whatever they are, they cancel out when you divide. For a particular coffee brewed in a high-pressure espresso machine vs. brewed in a common drip coffeemaker, the alkaloids will be lower in proportion to the esters. This is true however you choose to measure the quantity of the alkaloids and esters. That is the principle of espresso. The esters, which are the flavor components, dissolve more readily in water than the alkaloids (caffeine). By brewing quickly under pressure, you get the flavor of the easily soluble esters with proportionately less of the caffeine.

                                          That is also why percolation is the worst brewing method of all. You put the water through the coffee grounds long enough to extract all the alkaloids.

                                          My source for this is the Probat roasting course, which I took a few years ago.

                          2. Just curious - have you stopped by Moschetti's, especially their Saturday tasting events? I'd actually find it surprising if you hadn't yet

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: josquared

                              Check that address. I drove by several times, tough corner. Entrance on Curtola Parkway.
                              11 Sixth Street Vallejo, CA 94590

                              1. re: wolfe

                                It is an odd address and tough to get access the first (or even second) time around if you don't know what you're looking for - the street is little more than a belated driveway

                                1. re: josquared

                                  No, I haven't been to Moschetti's yet. The first time I knowingly had it was at Dillon Bread in June. I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Even if you don't buy coffee from them, at the very least you can sample all the varietals and blends they have at their Saturday events as something of a way to get those tastebuds back in order.

                                    You can also if you're knowledgeable pull your own cup of espresso from their machine or have Fabrice (who is pretty friendly and seems to know his stuff about roasting beans, etc.) do it for you.

                            2. If you're in SF, check out Rainbow Market. They've got a good assortment (I like four barrel) and you can grind it right there. Prices are pretty good too

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: chuckl

                                Which type of Four Barrel do you usually buy?

                                1. re: rworange

                                  I make espresso, so generally whatever espresso beans they have.

                              2. I've been buying Jeremiah's Pick Fogbuster organic at the Bowl. I'm not sure the west Bowl has it.

                                I had some Peet's Major Dickason's decaf on Thanksgiving that was the tastiest cup I've had in a while, made me want to try the regular.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  ditto on JP's organic Fogbuster. I also liked the breakfast blend. I took a chance on the prepacked Pick of the Harvest - organic Vilcabamba and like that too. $7.99 for a whole pound - what a deal. As a point of reference I use to drink Berk Bowl's organic French roast but wanted a lighter cup so tried out these others. Oh, and 10+ years ago I was an avid Graffeo drinker - dark and a half/half blend.

                                  1. re: mochimunchie

                                    Is teh Vilcabamba whole bean or ground? I couldn't tell feeling the bag and unlike the other's it didn't have the "ground" tag on it.

                                    I was going to open it to see if I needed to grind it, but it was so hermatically sealed I couldn't get the bag open.

                                2. Since you are in Marin at least some times, you might want to try Equator Coffee. They import and roast many coffees from all over including some they grow. They have a number of blends and if you check their website you may find something that sounds like what you would enjoy. (Although coffee descriptors are getting as odd and arcane as with wine.) They blend for many restaurants including Azrimendi bakeries, Jardiniere, Redd and all the Thomas Keller enterprises.

                                  1. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson:

                                    No, Sir, when a man is tired of Coles Coffee, he is tired of life; for there is in Coles Coffee all that life can afford."
                                    — Samuel Johnson

                                    "For example, I detest the atmosphere of Cole's on my one visit there."

                                    Whats not to like in the old funky Cole's Coffee bean store behind the hipster Cole's that fronts College Ave?

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Mission

                                      So, what do you recommend there?

                                      I sent a friend in who was really into coffee to see if he could find anything decent and he said the coffee was ok, but he much preferred Peets.

                                      What's not to like. Everything you said.

                                      My oh my, I really did a yelp on this report

                                      .Fear and Loathing in Oakland – Starbucks has better baristas than Cole Coffee

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        You admit you have never really visited Cole's Coffee bean shop?


                                        And yet you you hate it?

                                        That might be the problem?

                                        The yelp post concerns the front store...not the bean selling shop!

                                        1. re: Mission

                                          I gave a link to a 10,000 word or more report on my visit to Cole's.

                                          This is not being helpful. If you have no recommendations let's just end this here because I don't see the point.

                                          I went to Cole's once. I hated it. I then sent a friend their to see if maybe I was missing the point. Despite its mediocrity, I'm willing to be open if someone has a terrefic reccomendation. If you do, it would be appreciated. If not, what's your point in posting?

                                          Just because something has been there forever doesn't make it good.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            'Where to buy a pound of coffee?'

                                            you can only buy coffee beans in the other store,not the place you visited.

                                            1. re: Mission

                                              She visited both ends of Cole's.

                                              "I walked into the separate coffee shop next door prepared to bring some beans home and was met with the same indifferent staff attitude and just had enough and walked out. If you buy a pound of beans, you get a free cup of coffee which is brewed in the coffee shop rather than the café. "

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Yeah, that is what my coffee-knowledgable friend thought.

                                      2. Tom and Dave'Has some Indonesian Blue Dragon that is great. Also Mclaughlin's Sumatran, the lighter of the 2 roasts that they do

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: chefj

                                          Thank you. I was trying to remember Tom and Dave's. I had their coffee at Vineyards Inn and loved it. I'm not such a McLaughlin fan. It is usually too acidic for me.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            I think you mean bitter or harsh..not acidic. Acidic in coffee means something entirely different - something that McLaughlin coffees do not offer.

                                            My own personal description of acidic is a slight sour note that opens up to bright fruit, floral, and herbal notes. I know the sour part doesn't sound appealing and it's definitely not for everyone - but for some of us, it sets off the pleasure trigger in our brains because of the bright fruit that follows.

                                            Here's a well written and brief article on the subject with more info: http://www.examiner.com/coffee-in-den...

                                            1. re: scarmoza

                                              Nice article. Thanks. Yes, that is exactly it "Some people aren’t able to drink coffee because it bothers their stomach"

                                              Not bitter. I guess you could say harsh but that's not really it. A really mild coffee can produce what I imagine what it is like swallowing sulfuric acid ... coffee that needs a chaser of Pepto Bismol.

                                        2. Ecco Caffe is in Santa Rosa. They are considered one of the top 5 in the world. Very balanced flavors (so never exaggerated acidity, etc. that is all too common). Not sure if they will ship ground coffee because of the rule of 15.....ie, the coffee is stale 15 minutes after ground or 15 days after roast. Maybe they'll do it if you pick it up at their roasting facilities. Just about all of their beans are incredible. I just got 3 pounds of it today and it was roasted less than 24 hours ago.

                                          If you want good coffee, get a good burr grinder. They start at $200 and go up to $3000 (220V Mazzer Robur).

                                          I dont' have too much experience with Equator but remember them being worth checking out. Same goes for de la Paz in SF. Much of the Verve coffees are very good.

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: 12172003

                                            Thanks. I'll be in Santa Rosa over the necxt few weeks. Any particular bean you like there?

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              I prefer Ecco Caffe to Blue Bottle or Verve, fuller and more complex flavor. I usually drink it black, whereas I usually add a spot of cream or a little sugar to balance a cup anywhere else.

                                              I didn't know that it was possible to pick up from Ecco's Santa Rosa facility. If you want to taste the coffee, try to stop by Gaga Cafe stand at the Saturday morning Santa Rosa farmers market or on Sundays at Stonestown in San Francisco. Usually brings two types to the market. Ecco tastes better here than at other cafes. And though I'm not a regular coffee drinker, this is a treat and I'll usually get a cup if the line's not too long. I believe that you can also buy beans from him though you might need to make prior arrangements.

                                              Ecco Caffe
                                              90 Timothy Rd, Santa Rosa, CA

                                              Gaga Cafe
                                              Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa, CA

                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                Their Santa Rosa facility is literally an industrial workshop since it is only for roasting....and if a customer is local. Don't expect a "coffee shop." I think you can select "customer pickup" if ordering from their website. Their prices are per pound (as opposed to many places at 12 ounces). Their shipping is high but it ships the same day it is roasted and is well worth it.

                                                As for which coffees I like of theirs. It depends how I'm brewing it. I like their non-organic Espresso. For regular coffee made in a chemex, I like their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. I've also had one of their SO coffees from Guatemala that was insanely good pulled as an espresso. All pulled using a Baratza Vario grinder and La Spaziale Vivaldi. In general, check their descriptions or call them up and describe what kind of coffee flavors you like.

                                                1. re: 12172003

                                                  Thanks, that's good to know. Not that I'm a buyer of beans since I only drink coffee three or four times a month. Gaga does a pour-over individual drip coffee with Ecco. I don't think there's any that I haven't liked.

                                                  Here's SF Weekly's interview with Andrew Barnett of Ecco.

                                            2. re: 12172003

                                              ECCO ships their coffee and sells by the pound. You can buy it online through their website. Their online prices include shipping. I'm looking forward to the day they finally open up shop in San Francisco.

                                              1. re: scarmoza

                                                Have you been to Gaga Cafe at the Stonestown farmers market? It's there on Sundays, year-round.

                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                  Sure have. I'm not sure if he's still doing the e-mail requests for whole beans but I'm guessing he still does.

                                                2. re: scarmoza

                                                  Regarding Ecco, i have good news and bad news. The good news is they have been roasting beans at their new facility in S.F. for two weeks now. the bad news is, they are a roasting plant only. And since they roast per order, there is no walk up sales available. Internet only!

                                                  1. re: poser

                                                    So they changed the plans to have coffee service at that location all together?

                                                    1. re: scarmoza

                                                      This story just broke on Intelligentsia's rebranding of Ecco. There will be a coffee bar. But this piece says the roasting production in SF is not operational yet, whereas an earlier post here said it started in the spring.


                                                    2. re: poser

                                                      Do you detect any difference in the Ecco beans post-move?

                                                      In the past, I've noticed Gaga Cafe selling bags of Ecco beans at the farmers market (Sunday at Stonestown and Saturday in Santa Rosa). Since I've not purchased them, I don't know how the price compares to buying direct from Ecco.

                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        I couldn't give you a great answer on the difference as I buy just about all my coffee beans from Redbird coffee out of Bozeman, Montana. they roast to order and ship the same day as they roast. An added bonus is they pay the shipping if you purchase 5lb.

                                                        But back to Ecco. I really can't see what difference the move from Santa Rosa to S.f. would make.

                                                3. If they still have it at the Oakland GO do yourself a favor and pickup a can of the D'Aquino expresso. $4 for a full pound, preground and the closest thing I've found to Graffeo Dark. TJ's used to carry this but discontinued it.

                                                  1. Seems that all the local coffee roasters pre-package their beans in 12-oz bags. So, you may have trouble finding a pound. I notice that the workers are sometimes clueless; insisting that the (unlabeled) bag holds a pound. Perhaps they are trying to disguise the high cost.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: jman1

                                                      that's why I like Rainbow. They sell in bulk, for like $14 a pound

                                                      1. re: chuckl

                                                        Ditto, Other Avenues has high quality beans in the bulk section for low prices.

                                                        I suspect the problem is a lot of people who work in restaurants can't do math (or don't know how many ounces are in a pound). Of course none of my friends can figure out a tip without doubling the tax either.

                                                      2. re: jman1

                                                        The 12 oz. bags are 100% to distort the costs of $18-$32 per pound beans.

                                                      3. I know you probably meant to buy locally, but you might consider to mail order from intelligentsia. They have many interesting single origin coffees, and their black cat espresso blend is definitely delicious.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: M_and_H

                                                          I turned into one of those posters that sometimes annoy me ... gets a million suggestions and go off and do their own thing. Sometimes that is good ... in this case ... not so much.

                                                          I was out of coffee and will be doing more coffee shopping this weekend in the North Bay based on the great suggestions in this post. Actually I'm looking forward to trying a lot of these over the next year.

                                                          No only did I not buy any of the suggested beans, I didn't buy local.

                                                          First I looked at the Berkeley Grocery Outlet for that espresso ... I'm not one to pass up a recommended $4 bag of coffee. Nope. Not there. Will check the Oakland store next time I'm there.

                                                          I was going to buy the Fogbuster.Berkeley Bowl didn't have it. I couldn't tell if the Vilcabamba was whole bean or ground. tried to open the bag ... it wouldn't open. Was going to settle for the Breakfast Blend.

                                                          Then ... the siren call of a bright yellow label announcing "new item" along with some creative ad copy sucked me in ... Tony's Coffee of Bellingham, Washington. It has been in business since 1971


                                                          Café Carmelita - Incredibly smooth with sweet cocoa and caramel notes. Heavy syrupy body. Medium Roast.

                                                          Espresso Noir - Velvety crema, good presence in milk, rich vanilla, brown sugar finish. Dark Roast.

                                                          French Royale - Thick and bittersweet, very full finish. Dark Roast

                                                          Songbird Blend - Complex and aromatic with milk chocolate undertones. Blend of Light and Dark Roasts.

                                                          Sophia's Blend - Very bold and spicy, supported by a thick rich body. Medium Roast

                                                          In retrospect I should have went with the French Royale which might be more to my taste, but I got sucked in by the ad copy for the songbird.

                                                          No it is not complex. If milk choloate background means bland, well, ok.

                                                          It is not an offensive cup of coffee or harsh.It is very smooth. It is just not very interesting.or flavorful.

                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                            The original Berkeley Bowl has Fogbuster, in fact they have two bins of the regular and two bins of the organic. I'm not sure the west Bowl had Jeremiah's Pick at all.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              Yeah, BBW had Nearly a dozen types, just not the Fogbuster.

                                                          2. re: M_and_H

                                                            I noticed yesterday that Specialty's brews Intelligentsia. Not sure if they sell the beans too but they seemed to be selling everything else (cookie batter!).

                                                            I thought you liked some of Catahoula's blends. I'd like to keep him in business, brewing up Lola for me.

                                                            Catahoula Coffee Co
                                                            12472 San Pablo Ave, Richmond, CA 94805

                                                            Specialty's Cafe & Bakery
                                                            101 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA

                                                            1. re: Windy

                                                              Um, yeah... the good news is that the owner and his wife just had a baby. The bad news is that is who I was talking about in the OP.

                                                              It is just a minor service glitch and I'm going to check back next week to see if Timber returnd and take it up with him. I realized later the guy working there currently is just someone who it is difficult to get info from ... just his style.

                                                              Actually Catahoula seems to be doing great. There's always a crowd in there now and there are three people usually working the shop.

                                                              Also, Catahoula gets better and better. The Three Amigos blend is my current favoirte. It is mild but not too and has lots of flavor. There was actually an El Salvador coffee I liked a lot as welll.

                                                              And besides all that, Timber is just a flat out nice guy. He supports local small businesses. The breakfast sandwiches are from Angel restaurant across the street. He gives a lot of people a lot of breaks. It is great to have someone like this as part of the community putting out a quality product.

                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                Ah, that makes sense now. Cautionary tale for nice owners.

                                                                I've never been there but have a regular customer who supplies me. I noticed Cafe Taboo on York & 18th has a Catahoula sign in the window. I should check if they sell beans too.

                                                                Will look for the Three Amigos blend. I had a bag of dark roasted Sumatra that I've been adding to the milder roasts.

                                                                1. re: Windy

                                                                  This afternoon (maybe 1-2) Catahoula will haven Malabar Gold. I had a taste this morning and it is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately they didn't have any to sell by the pound and will be roasting more this morning. More about Malobar Gold from India


                                                                  The Peru is very good as well. It is a milder roast but there is some complexity to it and it smells wonderful.

                                                                  Jamaica Blue just sold out and I'm not sure if more will be in.

                                                                  Keep an eye on their site. They are planning a tasting of Kopi luwak


                                                                  All is well between me and Catahoula. The guy I felt blew me off is really quite knowledgable about coffee and the owner made me laugh as he is probably one of the few people who can listen to me kvetch and basically tell me to chill out and says it in a way that I think is funny. I chilled out.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    Malabar Gold is a really interesting espresso blend created by an Indian coffee importer named Joseph John, who was trained as a nuclear physicist but is incredibly passionate and opinionated on the subject of espresso. All of the coffees in Malabar Gold are from India, which is not a country one normally thinks of as a coffee growing region. Check out his espresso philosophy here:


                                                                    But rworange, you never answered my question about your apparent insistence on buying preground coffee. If that is indeed what you are saying, I would compare this approach to insisting on frozen fish over fresh. Ground coffee starts to go stale the instant it is ground.

                                                                    Compare coffee made from two-day-old preground coffee with coffee ground immediately before brewing with a $20 blade grinder, and you will taste the difference.

                                                                    1. re: TopoTail

                                                                      My taste just isn't advanced enough to care about grinding for each cup. Maybe someday. There is only so far I can go with the whole coffee thing and then it gets too much for me.

                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                        A coffee roaster friend calls coffee the poor step child of the gourmet food world. I just don't understand why people who examine every ingredient in their dinner with a microscope so often take the attitude that coffee is just coffee. Restaurant critics go on and on about wine lists, but how often is the coffee even mentioned?

                                                                        Thomas Keller used Illy pods for espresso drinks for years, and now uses super automatic machines rather than training a barista to prepare espresso the right way, and the critics never blink. I just don't get it.

                                                          3. The new Highwire Coffee (where Peabody's coffee used to be, in Market Hall on College) is great -- really friendly staff and owners, and their beans make excellent coffee at home too. My mom had some over Thanksgiving, and it was both delicious and easy on the stomach. I can't wait to finish the beans that I have at home so that I can buy some. My mom had their Yirg, I'm pretty sure.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                                              Many thanks for the tip. I noticed the recent remodel but didn't realize that Peaberry's (coffee mediocre, to my taste) had been replaced. Do they roast their own beans or get them from one of the usual suspects?

                                                              1. re: dordogne

                                                                They roast their own, the whole thing has changed. Agree that Peaberry's was mediocre, and I'm liking Highwire a lot. They also have excellent pastries (Starter Bakery and other small local bakeries).

                                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                                  really like their beans. had the sumatra and it is aromatic, chocolaty, and balanced. i kind of think there's a tad more caffeine in it somehow compared to roasts of similar color. i found it equal in taste and superior in aroma (and much less expensive) than my regular favorite: blue bottle. and in case you're trying to callibrate your tastes with my text, i'm not a fan of four barrel or sightglass beans which I find has a sour aftertaste AND oh-so expensive.

                                                            2. Aha, that explains why there hasn't been a Catahouligan Expresso edition for a couple of months. He's busy-busy with baby.

                                                              I was in Oakland yesterday and the Boucherie Markeplace Pop-Up event was going on at La Borinquena Mex-icatessen on 7th Street. We popped our heads in and there were several vendors selling locally made jams, pickles, tamales. In the mix was Tutmak Coffee. Before yesterday I had never heard of them. They are located in the East Bay (Berkeley, I believe). We ordered a cup of coffee and watched as they ground the beans and primed the filter. The aroma of freshly ground coffee perked me up and lulled me into a state of bliss at the same time.

                                                              The particular bean they had at the pop-up event was from one of co-founder's father's coffee farm in Panama. Now, I usually take my coffee with a splash half 'n' half, but I tried it unadulterated and the brew was a rich, mellow roast, smooth with no bitterness.

                                                              Tutmak Coffee's roots are in Bali, Indonesia, and have brought their product to America. They are located in the East Bay and sell online. Per their website, they offer "a variety of whole bean coffees from worldwide regions with an emphasis on Fair Trade, Sustainable and Organic sourcing". Their coffee is never shelved and "must reach the consumer within forty-eight hours of roasting".

                                                              Tutmak Coffee

                                                              1. I'm not going to say I've read this entire thread, rworange, but are you saying you refuse to buy coffee unless the store is willing to grind it for you? And can you tell us how you prepare your coffee? I gather you don't do espresso. Do you use a filter setup, French press, Aeropress?

                                                                1. Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery, Duncans Mills west of Santa Rosa/Guerneville has dark roast blend called Cyclops that they roast. Very tasty and they will grind.

                                                                  Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery
                                                                  25101 Steelhead Blvd, Duncans Mills, CA

                                                                  1. i buy online from the maui oma coffee roasting company


                                                                    their kona coffees are very good and they also have a maui mokka bean which i like

                                                                    1. I'm not sure if Bicycle Coffee is convenient for you to find, but I was real impressed with their beans.

                                                                      Another alternative for darker beans is the "Oscillations" espresso blend from De La Paz.

                                                                      If you buy at Rainbow or Other Avenues, you have the option of grinding in the store. Unless it's an airtight bag, I wouldn't buy preground.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                        I just discovered Bicycle a couple of months ago. My taste for dark, thick, nearly burnt coffee seemed to have disappeared and I was having trouble finding something I liked that wasn't too green (for lack of a better word) tasting. Now I'm a convert to Bicycle. Granted, this is very subjective, and three months ago I think I would have found it neither dark nor rich enough. The only downside for me is that it's sold in 12 oz. bags--I want my full pound!

                                                                        I buy it at Mollie Stone's on Portola, where they told me that the Bicycle folks really do deliver by bicycle.

                                                                      2. Sweet Maria's in Oakland is a long-established importer of top quality coffee beans from all over the planet. They now offer fresh roasted coffee and will ship it to you promptly. Great selection and excellent stuff. I've been getting my green coffee beans from them for over 10 years.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Pzz

                                                                          Oasis Market on Telegraph in Oakland has assorted self serve and grind bulk Coffee for $10/LB

                                                                          I just tried some last week... it was great!

                                                                          I made my own special Major Mission's ® blend.

                                                                          (Moca java and what ever else looked good)

                                                                          For a paper filter I would go for the finest grind on their machine.

                                                                        2. My current Friday morning destination is De La Paz Coffee Roasters at 1081 Mission Street @ 7th Street in San Francisco - 8 am to 1 pm Friday only - while they finish their build-out coffee bar in February 2012. I've savored pour overs of Buena Vista (Colombia), San Sebastian (Colombia), and Nueva Granada (El Salvador)

                                                                          De La Paz Coffee Roasters
                                                                          1081 Mission St, SF, CA 94103

                                                                          1. I looked up the latest on coffee ratings and discovered the lovely Brown Owl Coffee house and Heath Roastery on Taraval near 22nd Ave, close to SFSU.

                                                                            Cozy, organic, coffee from Ethiopia and India (Arabica beans from bushes planted 100 years ago by a Scotsman in the Blue Mountains), minimum of pretension. And lots of owls. You'll like it.

                                                                            Cafe prices typical, beans a little pricier, depending on what you buy.


                                                                            1. In Palo Alto there is Zombie Runner. It's a running store but has a very good espresso bar inside. Very good coffee and espresso drinks using coffee from Moksha in Mountain View. Many of Moksha coffees are low in acidity and chocolate bombs. Not the most complex but excellent. They also happen to be _very_ forgiving as far as dose, temperature, length of pull for espresso and number of days after roast which is good for home usage. You can get their coffees at Zombie Runner or call them up and arrange to pick it up at their roasting site in Mountain View. They are the smallest of the local roasters.

                                                                              1. I got a pound of beans ($12.95) at Coffee Bazaar in Guerneville and was surprised at how good they were. Some of the best coffee I've had. If they were closer to home that would be my regular.

                                                                                They only have three or four blends including decaf. These were just labeled "dark roast."

                                                                                1. Continuation of (slightly different) topic here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/865108