Locked & Loaded
Next week should be a good one for trying new things. Two (two!) exciting new coffee venues will be opening--or should, at least--both of which are continuing to push quality beans out from the center of the city. Contraband Coffee Bar looks like it is finally set to open (we hope), while Ma*Velous, which had an opening party last week, should open as well.
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.
"Wow, that is not going to be charming and innocuous." With that revelation from Blue Bottle founder and co-owner James Freeman, there will be no Blue Bottle in Dolores Park. Freeman told us on the phone that he had decided to pull the plug given the fierce opposition he faced. Threats to bring thousands of people out to spit on employees (see the comments) on opening day, apparently, were more than he felt like dealing with. His investment in a trailer and new employees, he says, will go elsewhere. "We'll find somewhere else to park it and find room for my crew."
When San Francisco's Rec & Park approved a Blue Bottle coffee cart (or more properly, a trailer) it set off howls of protest in the Mission district. Opponents have questioned what kind of impact it will have on existing businesses and nearby roasters. There have been angry meetings, and even angrier blog comments. We spoke to Blue Bottle founder and co-owner James Freeman to find out what all the ruckus was about.
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.
As far as big-name roasters in San Francisco go, none are bigger than Blue Bottle. Locals love it, and tourists flock to it like gulls to an untended ham sandwich. The company has been on an expansionist tear in the last couple of years. Since 2008, it has opened new locations at Mint Plaza, the Ferry Building, Jack London Square in Oakland and, perhaps most famously, Brooklyn. But for years, there's been one notable part of town where Blue Bottle has been eclipsed by other roasters: The Mission. No more. Thanks to one gorgeous new cafe and restaurant that's just opening, and another coffee cart site on the way, the Mission is about to enter a new blue phase.
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.
Now that summer is almost over, it's finally starting to warm up in San Francisco. And since few of us here have air-conditioning, likely the last thing you want to do on these hot days is to slug down an even hotter drink. But you still need your caffeine fix, right? Enter the iced coffee.
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.