Whether your loyalty lies with Blue Bottle or you're more of a Four Barrel fanatic, more than 40 cafes in town now provide a Third Wave fix (post-WWII rise of instant coffee=first wave, Starbucks and Peet’s=second wave, obsessive, bean-sourcing micro-roasters like Blue Bottle and Four Barrel=third wave). Here's where to find the Third Wave variety across the city.
Third Wave Coffee Spot Map
(green=Barefood, blue=Blue Bottle, orange=De La Paz, purple=Ecco, pink=Four Barrel, red=Ritual, navy blue=Verve)
After several years as a sales rep for Bock Spirits, where he helped to introduce Hangar One vodka, Jeff Kessinger decided to branch out and produce his own spirit for the first time, as a gift for friends at the holidays. His wife suggested that he try out her family's coffee liqueur recipe, but when Kessinger found out that the brew's backbone was instant coffee, he knew he could do better. So he did what most caffeine-lovers in the Bay Area do when they need a fix: he headed to Blue Bottle.
I don't know how many of you remember the great charcuterie tsunami of the mid-2000s, but you have it to thank for the prevalence of mid-grade house-cured meats that you can now find on the menus of nearly every restaurant in or around an urban center. Taken from a distance, this is a fine trend—who am I to begrudge cured meats? But when poorly executed it doesn't matter if it's housemade. I cite this historically relevant culinary event only because I fear it has begun to happen with coffee.
I know this "Buzzed" column is typically about alcoholic beverages, but I'm writing today about a different kind of buzz--the one we get from really good coffee. I had to speak out on this after reading this absurd post on the Atlantic Monthly website. He lurches off to talk about acidity and flavor in both coffee and wine, a subject I don't think he has much of a grasp on. Acidity doesn't have flavor per se, it more affects the perception of balance and brightness. Too much acidity in coffee can result in harshness. That's one of the reasons why so many people add milk or cream--to soften the texture and dilute the harshness.
Well, what can we say? It's about time. We predict that in a few years that little blue bottle you see to the left will be popping up elsewhere—New York? Los Angeles? Seattle? Blue Bottle, it's time to fly.