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San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
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lizclayton
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Posted Wed Apr 30, 2008, 10:00pm
Subject: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008
Road Reports article by Liz Clayton

Liz Clayton makes pays a tiny checkup visit to San Francisco's newest, famousest and most delicious cafes.
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shanghai7
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Posted Thu May 1, 2008, 9:14pm
Subject: Re: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

Must agree with you on that Fazenda - spec-TAC-ular stuff.  I think I was maybe there on the day you were cupping @ Ritual? That was the first time I'd participated in a formal (though informal) public cupping.  If that was you, hey right on - if not, there are possibly multiple Brooklyn-based coffee nuts with fabulous cameras running around SF.  It could happen, why shouldn't it?

Either way nice article.
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Fri May 2, 2008, 9:49am
Subject: Re: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

Why is everyone ontinually suprised that SF is cold and windy?  Don't people recall the famous comment from Mark Twain ("The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco")?

What I find interesting -- and this is not a reflection upon Liz at all -- is that the "new" growth in SF coffee houses has yet to really translate to Berkeley, Oakland, and the East Bay . . . it seems, for instance, that Santa Cruz has a larger, thriving espresso scene.  I grant you there are places in Berkeley -- as with any college town -- serving espresso, but . . . I don't know.  Where's  the buzz?  (No pun intended.)

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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shanghai7
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Posted Fri May 2, 2008, 10:22am
Subject: Re: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

Totally agree, Zin - seems like the East Bay places are selling caffienation more than fundamentally good coffee.  I like the Nomad in Oakland - they roast their own (not sure where - don't see a Probat in the cafe) and there's real believers behind the counter.  But yeah, Berkeley has a sad lack of hardcore buzzworthy coffee.  So does the North Bay - how cool would it be to see a Ritual-esque place in Marin!
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christiang
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Posted Fri May 2, 2008, 1:33pm
Subject: Re: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

What about Flying Goat up north? I hear you on the east bay, though. What I think we need over here is a Cafe Grumpy style establishment. A place were you can get good coffee from lots of different roasters. In the mean time, it seems like you have to settle for OK cafes that sell other people's coffee: Cafe Mediterraneum serving Barefoot, Village Grounds doing Flying Goat, or the variety of places doing Blue Bottle. (or Blue Bottle in person at the farmer's markets).

So when are those cuppings at Ritual? I've been looking for this and classes and there's either very little of it going on or it's not very well advertised. I actually did a cupping myself of the Faezenda with not so coffee geeky friends - I would love to hear other coffee geek thoughts on it at a cupping. Can't wait to try the new espresso blend with it.
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shanghai7
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Posted Fri May 2, 2008, 2:20pm
Subject: Re: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

Totally forgot about Flying Goat!  That place is great - Healdsburg is always a little farther away than I think, but that place is worth it.  

I was there on a Friday morning, around 10:00 - they had the whole thing set up on their large front table.  It seemed like it was a relatively common occurrence, so it might be worth calling to see what their schedule is.
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Sat May 3, 2008, 10:48am
Subject: Re: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

Christian,

Both Flying Goat Coffee and Ecco Caffè do a great job in Sonoma Co., and I have ordered freshly roasted coffee from each of them shipped to my house -- until I settled on the Dolce blend from Espresso Vivace out of Seattle.  I still will run down to Village from some Flying Goat Ticino whenever my timing is off re-ordering from Vivace.  And I'm not sure I could make it through the Farmer's Market without Blue Bottle!  ;^)

Ah, well . . . . we can dream.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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RobertD
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Posted Sat May 3, 2008, 2:33pm
Subject: Overlapping visit to Blue Bottle Coffee: coffee Nirvana
 

Funny coincidence, as I came home to read a review of places that I had just checked out in San Francisco. And what a great review Liz delivers: not just your basics, but waaaay more in her own sassy style. Natch, she found more than what was just on the surface: Fourbarrel in stealth mode, and everything about Ritual that decency will allow (cupping, espresso changes, competitive analysis, personality profiles). How does she do it?! Hee's a bit more that I can add about Blue Bottle Coffee, my current definition of coffee Nirvana:

I spent 29-30 April on business near the new Blue Bottle cafe on Mint Street plaza and found it to be more than I could have imagined. Upon arriving there, I gave up on going anywhere else in the area (Liz has *so* much more perseverance, and I thank her for the exceptional reviews fo the other, great places in SF). So much coffee fun in such a small space. You can barely fall over in this place, but it has more gear and skill and style than any place I've ever seen. OMG (as my daughter would spell it out). I was there early and late and wish that I could have been there more, as they offer so many choices and treats. As Liz pointed out, they do everything all-out, with intelligence and élan.

The owner, James, started with a passion to deliver the best roasted beans possible, made an oath to deliver this (no kidding), and everything else seems an outgrowth of this drive to deliver coffee perfection. I am thrilled at his ongoing success and his continued progress. Who woulda thought to offer so many options of delivering exceptional coffee?
* Single-origin, manual-pulled espresso beauties
* a custom, $20K Japanese siphon process (a step on his quest to deliver all of the flavor and nuances possible)
* Kyoto-styled, iced coffee (patiently prepared in a 10-hour process)
* and, oh yeah, a 3-group LaMarzocco staffed by the friendliest and most skilled baristi

Everything about the experience is thought out and nailed. The glassware, water, diversity of coffees (rotating, they were featuring several Brazilian coffees during the week that I was there) ... hell, the breakfast was gourmet and flooring beautiful. And yet, the owners and staff do not appear to be the least bit obsessive, just happy to turn out the most amazing drinks that I have seen.

Yes, folks, this is a culinary coffee experience.
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christiang
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Posted Sat May 3, 2008, 3:59pm
Subject: Re: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

Doh, I just got back from Ritual at Flora Grubb Gardens and forgot to ask about the cuppings! Anyway, I had their new Sweet tooth espresso. Definitely check that out if you get the chance. It's better than the red flag in my opinion. Brighter and sweeter. It uses about 75% of the Faezendo Do Serrado.  And, I didn't realize it but apparently Chris Baca won the WRBC armed with single origin Fazendo Do Serrado.  

I'm not sure how Liz does it either - both the insight and the coffee drinking stamina.  I've got some reports about most of the spots here on this thread on my blog, but Liz just kills me with insider scoop, and she's funnier.

Oh, and I was going to add that you can get Ecco Caffe at Bakesale Betty's as well. They have their espresso (but they use McLaughlin roasters for their regular coffee). I don't know if it's common practice, but I got Ecco to deliver to Bakesale Betty's for me.  They have to make a run there anyway and it was a lot better than paying shipping - and they filled a couple of half pound orders for me so I could mix and match.
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christiang
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Posted Sat May 3, 2008, 4:03pm
Subject: Re: San Francisco Cafe Crawl: Spring 2008, Road Reports
 

Actually, I just want to correct myself. I just read Ritual's website and it looks like the Sweet Tooth uses Ritual's other Brazilian - the Sao Joao and not the Co Serrado.  I'm not sure what Chris Baca is using, but maybe it says somewhere in the competition blogs for the USBC going on this weekend.
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