Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Oct 26, 2012 03:30 PM

Blue Bottle at FPFM?

My sweetheart and I frequently visit SF, about once a month during the winter and then we vacation there for the month of April, and we always walk to the Farmers Market on Saturday (Thursdays too if we are in town). After walking two or three miles to get there, I would like to shop at the Blue Bottle in the Ferry Building. Is the coffee served there really worth waiting half an hour, and what drink would you recommend? I enjoy drip or French Press with a bit of sugar and a little bit of cream or milk. Also, which coffee beans would you recommend? Based on description on their website, Giant Steps sound good. Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance!...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: FattyDumplin

      Agree re the iced coffee (I also like their Kyoto iced coffee at Mint Plaza). Also really enjoyed the Nel drip last time at Mint Plaza, though there could be a bit of sticker shock associated with it :-). I've kind of gone off espresso drinks in favour of pourovers lately. I used to like the Hayes Valley blend they use at the Linden kiosk the best and always had it in a Gibraltar -- kind of a non-secret secret menu beverage -- with the SFMOMA blend they only serve at the museum outpost a close second, which makes sense as I think it is only one bean different. They've had Giant Steps for a long time and it is solid I think (I wonder if Humphry Slocombe is still using it in their Vietnamese coffee ice cream -- website inconclusive). Re the 17 Foot Ceiling at Mint Plaza: though aptly named it was never a fave for me.

      Haven't had the best luck at the Ferry Plaza stands, either in door (during the week) or out door (on Sat) but experiences there have probably been coloured by that line you mention which seems perpetual...

      1. re: grayelf

        proper cold brewed ice coffee is a labor of love, and even if you drink coffee black, it packs such a bunch sometimes people use cream and sugar when they, otherwise, would never do so. It's definitely a different taste, but it's fantastic. Actually... blue bottle might already mix it with cream? Anyhoo... yum.

        1. re: grayelf

          I love Humphry Slocombe ice cream! The Secret Breakfast is sublime. I will miss it sorely until it comes backto FPFM in warmer weather. (That's what I was told by the folks at the info booth.) Vietnamese coffee ice cream? They have my attention :-)...

          1. re: grayelf

            ooh, speaking of humphrey slocombe... the affogato is amazing...

            1. re: grayelf

              The Kyoto iced coffee is only served at the Mint Plaza location? That is very close to where we are going to be staying so that will work nicely - don't have to worry about the line at the Ferry Station to get moving in the moring :)

              Is the Macau style coffee only sold at non Blue Bottle locations?

              What is the Secret Breakfast?

              1. re: Dapuma

                Macau style is made by a shop that just happens to use Blue Bottle espresso, but it's their own thing.

                Secret Breakfast is cornflakes and bourbon ice cream.

                The New Orleans iced is available all over, the Kyoto is at Mint Plaza, because they use the siphons to make it. Expect a very strong dark coffee, but considering how you like your coffee, I'd stick to the New Orleans.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  I can drink espresso if it is very good stuff, the mrs I am sure will stick with the new Orleans iced...Ill have to try the Kyoto one just so say I have had it, thanks fo rthe other info - Affagatto for breakfast seems appropriate...

              2. re: grayelf

                @grayelf---OK, my interest is piqued. What is a Gibraltar? Any other "secrets" from the secret menu I might like to know about? :-) Please share, if you would! :-)

                1. re: buzzardbreath

                  A Gilbraltar is basically a slightly smaller capuchino served in a 4.5 oz Gilbraltar tumbler.


                  1. re: poser

                    farm:table might also work for the OP. I quite liked their coffee in April. They were using Verve for the drip/pourovers and their own Colombian roast for the espresso. I tried a house-name drink called a Tenderknob ($3), a four-ounce version of the Gibraltar. Also really enjoyed the savouy breakfasts here -- there was some real talent in that tiny kitchen. They tweet their daily changing menu:

              3. If the weather's inviting enough, you should definitely make the effort to go to Vega or Special Xtra, two other nearby (Special Xtra is closer to Ferry Bldg than Vega) for a BB Macau Iced Coffee. You can read more about it here:

                2 Replies
                1. re: noodlelife

                  I actually like the Macau even better than the NO iced coffee but I've only had it at Grand Prix which I understand is now closed. Will have to hit up either Special Xtra or Vega in November :-)

                  1. re: noodlelife

                    I will definitely check out Special Xtra. Thanks for the heads-up!

                  2. Unless you go to Mint Plaza, I'm not sure you can pick out which bean they're using.

                    Typically they use one of the blends (Giant Step or Three Africas) at the Ferry Building, especially the outdoor carts, which are a darker to dark-medium roast that stand up well with cream and sugar. Blue Bottle insists their standard coffee is made drip.

                    If there's a long line, you're better off going to one of the several outdoor carts, and expecting inferior but okay coffee, or taking a detour to MInt Plaza, which is about a half hour away, but will have more options. I don't find the blends particularly interesting, but I appreciate them for having a signature taste, the same way I appreciate a Peets sometimes.

                    The iced coffees are tasty, but the price makes me feel like a sucker. Stick to the New Orleans version if you like cream and sugar.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sugartoof

                      It's not so much that you can pick out the bean/blend, it's just what they have on offer at each location (on their website, go to Locations, pick one, then click on Coffee Menu). They also seem to sell some of the beans/blends to use at home at Linden, Mint Plaza and the indoor Ferry Plaza one. Dunno about the other locations.

                    2. Thank you, everyone! I appreciate the suggestions and weblinks. I will probably brave the lines once to buy a NOLA Iced. (I love coffee and chicory!) And I will probably pick up a pound of the Giant Steps to take home. (No way am I walking 3 miles without buying something. LOL) Will update in a few weeks, next time I'm there. :-)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: buzzardbreath

                        I personally wouldn't bother buying to take home. It'll be nearly out of its prime by the time you get home. If you like it, do an online order from your home - you'll get stuff that's right at its prime, they pioneered coordinating their roasting and mail pickup times so it gets put in the mail the same day as roasting, giving you beans exactly 2 days old, and they're best about 4 days old.

                        I think you'll walk _past_ the mint location, which is a better stop. Just look it up when you're going. Your plan of what to order, etc, seems sound.