Is the Tenderloin the city's newest coffee hotspot? Little Bird, the newest venue from the owners of Whiskey Thieves, Dirty Thieves and Thieves Tavern, just opened its doors last week. I stopped in and played dumb, something that comes pretty naturally to me, to scope it out.
When I heard from a little bird (okay, actually it was Tenderblog, and we have a previous post on 7x7 as well) that a new cafe opened in the Tenderloin, I was excited to drop by and try it out. It's a small cafe, with just a few tables, and a children's play area. The shop itself is named for a term of endearment the owners use with their child, according to the barista. It has a two gruppo La Marzocco, and serves your standard variety of espresso drinks. It also has a four station V60 setup for making brewed coffee and you can order a press pot as well.
Best of all, serves beans from two different roasters, De La Paz and Ritual. I love it when cafés offer multiple roasters side-by-side. It's a great way to compare and contrast.
Yesterday they were offering a Guatemalan from De La Paz, and a Salvadoran coffee from Ritual (presumably the Matalapa Roblar?) The barista didn't have too much information about either, but prepared my drink with care, and even better a smile. Surly coffee nerds can ruin a place, and there's enough surly in the Tenderloin as it is. (In fact, this was one of the friendliest cafés I've been to in as long as I can remember.)
I didn't try an espresso drink, but plan to stop by this week again to do so and will update this post when it happens. Honestly, I expect like they'll do more espresso business than brewed coffee, but I wanted to get my drip on.
While there were certainly some signs of it being a recent opening it's a welcoming presence in an otherwise dreary part of town, and I left generally impressed. And it's great to see the Tenderloin getting more options. Indeed, as Tenderblog notes:
With Verve being served at Farm:Table, Sightglass at Hooker’s, and now Ritual and De La Paz at Little Bird, the Tenderloin is truly becoming a new coffee geek haven.
Okay, um, haven might be a bit much. But there's certainly something going on there, and I'm anxiously awaiting the Contraband Coffee opening later this month. (Which may be a little outside the Tenderloin, but is still an easy walk.) Definitely stop by if you're in the neighborhood, but don't go out of your way to get there. At least not yet.
Mat Honan is a coffee-obsessive who prowls the city in search of the perfect cup. Each Wednesday, he writes about San Francisco coffee culture for 7x7.