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.
Life has been nothing but boxes in recent weeks. After eleven years spent in the Mission, Nopa, and the Haight, I'm moving out to the avenues. I'm excited about the new neighborhood, but also a little worried I'm going to have culture shock. Not because of the fog, the Haight is little better and the view from my window is pure gray at the moment. Nor am I worried about nightlife, my carousing days are long behind me. Rather, I'm worried about my ability to get a decent cup of coffee or shot of espresso with any regularity.
This is what amazes me about San Francisco: The fact that when I meet people for the first time, more often than not they know more about food or drink than I do. On the food obsession radar, it turns out, I score shockingly low. One of my neighbors regularly helps his friend to throw 12 person, nine-course meals. Another of my friends hunts for morels and has made his own cheese. Another one hauled a sate grill back from Thailand in his suitcase.
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.