We've been waiting on Contraband Coffeebar so long it was starting to feel like Christmas. And in fact, after finally resolving permitting issues, the Larkin Street café opened its doors on Christmas Eve. It was an early present to the neighborhood. Despite being a longstanding bustling retail corridor, Polk Gulch has never had a destination coffee spot. Hell, there hasn't even been a relatively good coffee shop in the area. But Contraband changes that. It serves great coffees in a pleasant setting. In short, it was worth the wait.
The holidays have arrived, and you may have family or friends that came with them. Don't just leave them shivering in your drafty Victorian all day, take those kids out for coffee. Sure, you could drag them to your corner cafe, but why not take them on a caffeinated adventure instead at one of the city's unique venues. Here are five spots to wow your guests.
The only way to learn about coffee is to try it. A lot of it. But that's a hard thing to do, especially if you want to branch out beyond local Bay Area stuff. So it was a real thrill when Chris Tacy organized a cupping (basically a formal tasting) with some ridiclously good and diverse coffees from a wide variety of roasters. We cupped twelve in all, from Blue Bottle, Ecco, Four Barrel, Intelligentsia, Sightglass and Stumptown. It was a pretty sick table. But I was particularly interested to see how the locals would stack up against Stumptown and Intelli. How did they do?
So you're heading to your aunt's house in Alaska or Alabama or Arcata for Thanksgiving, and you think that must mean terrible coffee for Turkey Day, right? No! Just because you're heading to the burbs, it doesn't mean you have suffer Sanka served through some ancient and dirty drip coffee maker. Let your kinfolk bring the green bean casserole. You bring some decent beans and brewing gear so you can make great go juice from anywhere you may travel, here's how.
I'm still shaking from my trip to Ma*Velous. And not due to caffeine. Phillip Ma's new coffee and wine bar (there's beer too) at Market and Fell Street is gorgeous and delicious, with some of the most interesting ways to appreciate coffee you're going to find anywhere in the world. It is nothing short of a temple of coffee.
I had hoped to have a report on Contraband or Ma*Velous today, but neither was open to the public when we stopped by earlier this week. (According to Ma*Velous publicist Claudia Juestel, its a permitting matter. It's always a permitting matter. Every new cafe struggles with permitting, and it always takes longer than expected.) In the interim, I thought I'd look at some interesting coffee news from around the Bay this week including, yes, Blue Bottle and Dolores Park.
One of the Bay Areas most established roasters will soon be a San Francisco newcomer. Ecco Caffe, the Santa Rosa-based roaster known for its amazing selection of organic coffees, will soon be roasting out of (and opening shop in) San Francisco. We sat down with company founder Andrew Barnett to find out more.
Did you know today is National Coffee Day? No? Oh, well, that's probably because it's a totally bogus and utterly made-up thing. Locked & Loaded had initially planned to revisit the Blue Bottle in Dolores Park debate today (which generated some heated commentary two weeks ago). But why stoke up anger on everybody's favorite holiday, on our traditional celebration of National Coffee Day? Instead, it seems like a good day to celebrate how good we have it in the Bay Area.
It's no wonder San Francisco has such a booming culinary culture. It's an area where people are willing (even eager) to experiment with new ideas and reshape culture. The old western culture of self-reliance is still very much alive. When you mix those together, all sort of interesting things happen. Like home coffee roasting. Sure, you can buy coffee from some of the nation's best roasters here. But that hasn't stopped lots of locals from trying their hand at roasting green beans right in their kitchens. (In fact, it's probably even encouraged it.) Home roasting is easy and rewarding, and you've got everything you need–from supplies to community–right here in your backyard. Here's everything you need to get started.
When people talk Bay Area specialty roasters, especially in San Francisco, you tend to hear three names over and over: Blue Bottle, Ritual, and Four Barrel. Of course, there's good reason for that. All are excellent, and can be found all over the city. But of course there are many other great roasters in the Bay Area. And one in particular, Barefoot Coffee Roasters, seems to inspire an almost cult-like level of devotion and in this case one of the most, um, interesting job application videos we've ever seen.