Locked & Loaded: Abandon Your Loyalties
You should abandon your favorite cafe. At least for a day. That's seemingly the message behind the San Francisco Dis*Loyalty card, a frequent shopper promotion that, instead of rewarding you for visiting one place over and over, rewards you for making stops all over town at various coffee bars, each representing a different local roaster.
The card, which you can get at any of the cafes named, includes punches for Stable Cafe, Epicenter, Coffee Bar, Sightglass, Ma*Velous, farm : table, Four Barrel, and Ritual, representing the roasts of De La Paz, Barefoot, Mr. Espresso, Sightglass, Ecco, Verve, Four Barrel and Ritual, respectively. Blue Bottle is notably absent.
It promises that the last location will "reward you with a free beverage of your choosing." Which I take to mean anything at all, on or off-menu. Although I'm sure there must be limits. ("I'll have the blood of barista served in a Gibraltar glass, please.") You've got from now all the way until December to complete your mission.
I was glad to see more than the usual suspects on here, especially the out of the way spots like Coffee Bar, farm : table and Stable Cafe. Not only should it help get people breaking out of their routines, but hopefully it will lead to some great coffee discovery as well.
Yet of course, this being San Francisco, not everyone loves it. As Greg Sherwin writes on The Shot, "instead of locking repeat consumer zombies into one chain, we spread them over a few more cash registers. It essentially suggests replacing a monopoly with a cartel."
Sure, a card with 50 punches, each from a different coffee bar across town would be great. Especially if it took you out to unexpected parts of town. (Ocean Beach, represent!) But we still think this is pretty great. And besides, Greg, you don't want everyone getting in on your level of expertise and obsession, do you?
In any case, we're excited by the Dis*Loyalty program. One cafe owner reported to us that it is already sending in a small trickle of new customers, who are going around town getting cards punched. That's nice. Any new business is good, and this program is just getting started. And of course, it's nice for the tea, er... I mean coffee-totalers to have something to do during Strong Beer Month.
In other news
We stopped in at Ma*Velous yesterday (hey, you gotta get that card punched) where we found owner Phillip Ma pulling shots and brewing Stumptown coffees. Whoa! The legendary Portland roaster with the enfant terrible owner hasn't been readily available in a San Francisco cafe since Four Barrel started roasting its own beans. I had a Stumptown espresso, a coffee, and skipped out with a bag of beans. And while just having Stumptown available (especially in that gorgeous Ma*Velous setting) is pretty great, having it where you can order it head to head with other with amazing coffees is completely bananas. Along with Stumptown, Ma*Velous is also carrying coffees from Ecco Caffe, Intelligentsia, and Tim Wendelboe. Top that.