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Mat Honan

The Great Coffee Klatch: A Blind Taste Test of the Bay Area's Finest Coffees

Four industry professionals—and one connoisseur—take a sip and a sniff of some of the Bay Area's finest coffees and declare a top dog.

San Francisco has always been a coffee town. Around 1900, one of the Hills brothers invented the vacuum tin here, drastically improving the freshness of beans. In 1966, Alfred Peet kicked off the coffee roasting movement in America from his little shop in Berkeley. After that though, SF coffee took a back seat to cities such as Seattle and Portland. But those days are over. Audacious roasters like Ritual, Four Barrel, and Blue Bottle have put the Bay Area back on the map, leading some critics to claim it may be America's new premier coffee capital.

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. 

Locked & Loaded: Get Coffee Smart With La Marzocco in Berkeley

If you want to see where coffee is headed (other than the Mission, we mean) head over to Berkeley for La Marzocco's Out of the Box event today. It's your last chance to catch workshops, classes, contests and demos on everything coffee. It's also a chance to sample some of the region's premiere roasters brewing their own beans, and check a slew of fancy equipment from La Marzocco, Hario, and others.

Locked & Loaded: Caffe Pascucci Brings a Little Italy to Mission Bay, Plus La Marzocco in East Bay

One of the world's best baristas is in town for the next few weeks, serving up shots under the watchful eye of Willie Mays. Eddy Righi, the 2010 runner up in the Italian Barista Championships is in San Francisco for the U.S. launch of Caffe Pascucci, a new cafe and eatery on King Street, directly across from AT&T Park.

Locked & Loaded: Meet Contraband Coffee, the City's Newest Roaster

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.

Locked & Loaded: 5 Gifts for Coffee Achievers

Christmas is almost here. And if you haven't gotten your gifts yet, I hope you're freaking out. You should be! But perhaps the person whose gift you wish to wrap is a caffeine fiend. Or just likes tasty drinks, and well-designed gear to serve it in. Here are five gifts to delight the coffee lover in your life. Two are decidedly local, three are not. All are awesome.

Locked & Loaded: Five Guest-Worthy Coffee Spots

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.

Locked & Loaded: Cupping Local and Far-Flung Roasters

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?

Quality Coffee to Go: How to Get a Good Cup on the Road

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.

Locked & Loaded: Drinking at the Temple

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. 

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