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Ecco Caffè: More Fancy Coffee Coming to You Soon

In the name of research for an upcoming story, I was “experiencing” a mid-work-day lunch last week at Bar Bambino and in order to make it back to my desk without falling asleep, I had to finish off with an upper in order to ward off the carb + red wine–induced coma that was coming on strong.


Ecco coffee at Bar Bambino: A thing of beauty.

What appeared in front of me was gorgeous Americano made with beans from Ecco Caffè—a coffee roaster based in Sonoma. Lest you think Blue Bottle and Ritual Roasters are the only players around here, Ecco’s been around since 1999, right around the same time Stumptown started in Portland. I learned about them when I did a story about the burgeoning coffee scene in SF and its direct correlation to tattoos (click here to read it). Everyone I interviewed cited Ecco as an inspiration.

Founder Andrew Barnett is typical of what’s called the Third Wave coffee culture: obsessive. He spends a third of each year traveling to farms from Guatemala to Ethiopia and shares the Chez P. sensibility that your coffee is only as good as your beans. I gave him a call this morning to ask a few questions, and about 20 minutes later, he’d delivered a moving story about the Brazilian Cup of Excellence award-winning organic coffee farmer, Paulinho Almeida (soon, he hopes, a household name like Mondavi) and much, much, much more.

You can buy Ecco's beans online and young guys with beards make drip coffee at the Santa Rosa farmers market (but unlike Blue Bottle, there’s not a line of caffeine-deprived junkies waiting to get it; in fact, you'd probably get a cup faster driving up to Sonoma from SF). As for here, Ecco can only be found at Bambino, plus Mojo Bicycle Café and Trouble Coffee Company, but Barnett has plans to open a café in the city in the next year. Do we need more fancy coffee? Apparently so. Despite his claim to be undecided on the neighborhood of choice for Ecco’s café venture, this might be a hint: “I think Valencia Street could sustain three great roasting companies,” he said.