Sightglass Ushers in Coffee's Fourth Wave


You say siphon—I say Slayer. If the hype is to be believed, then the Fourth Wave of coffee has begun. In the life span of java, the four-wave theory is broken down thusly:

The post-WWII rise of instant coffee (first); Starbucks and Peet’s (second); obsessive, bean-sourcing micro-roasters like Blue Bottle and Four Barrel (third); and what I’ll deem the “machine age” (fourth).

The Slayer, a handcrafted espresso machine that hails from Seattle, is this movement’s de facto mascot. Only SoMa newcomer Sightglass Coffee has the $18,000 beauty—one of fewer than 20 in the country. (Four Barrel employs a $16,000 Italian-made La Marzocco, while Ritual opts for the Seattle-made Synesso, also $18,000. Ecco, slated to open in Potrero Hill this summer, is choosing between the two.) With its wooden handles and sleek lines, the Slayer is a looker, but more importantly, it gives baristas the kind of power coffee nerds can only dream of. The water pressure can be changed on a shot midpull; settings for specific beans can be customized. Co-owner Jerad Morrison acknowledges coffee cultishness, but hopes to make Sightglass approachable. “I know there’s a big part of the population that does not care,” he says. “There are geeks, then there are those who just want a cup of coffee.” But if you’re going for street cred, get to Sightglass while it’s still in start-up mode—set up in a garage, amid the construction that will become, by mid-month, the cafe and roastery.

270 Seventh St., 415-861-1313,

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