San Francisco 2014
So I just got back from San Francisco and thought I’d share some quick thoughts and pictures on the various coffee shops and roasters that me and my other half visited during the trip.
Blue Bottle Roasters
Blue Bottle was the first coffee shop that we visited as it was pretty close to our apartment and was located in the very cool Ferry Building. The Ferry Building was brimming over with independents from wine and beer to coffee and ice cream and then on to cheese and fruit. There was even an entire shop dedicated to mushrooms! The building is beautiful and the produce even better.
On our first visit we had an espresso each and took away a filter each. The espresso was very intense. It had qualities of both light and dark roasts, quite chocolaty but with a bit of zing to keep it interesting, a very well balanced shot indeed. The pour over coffee was a different beast all together. It was still on the darker side of what I usually go for back home but it was still a really balanced brew and one of my favourites of the trip. It had plenty of fruit to get into but still maintained hints of the dark side. It was brimming over with red fruit and chocolate and this is how we started pretty much every day of the first week.
We decided to take a walk over to one of Sightglass shops. We accidently walked through the one area of the city that we were told to avoid, the tenderloin. Well, we survived to tell the tale and whilst the area wasn’t exactly as nice as the main downtown area, we were not mugged, shot at or stabbed. After making it to Sightglass and already feeling a little caffeinated from our earlier trip to Blue Bottle we decided to take it easy and just grabbed a couple of espressos. I really loved the decor of the shop and the Probat Roaster was going full tilt right in the middle which just added to the experience. The espresso was of a similar style to those from Blue Bottle although I preferred this one. For me it had a bit more going on whilst still remaining balanced overall, Jill preferred Blue Bottle, both were fantastic.
Next up was Workshop Cafe. This wasn’t on the list but was one that we just happened upon whilst wandering about and needed a quick hit. I was glad that we did as the espresso was really tasty and they were serving up Stumptown’s Hair Bender blend. Was a cool place was half of the space reserved for coffee and half a sort of mobile office space where people came to work. A very quick but satisfying visit 🙂
Flywheel Coffee Roasters
A friend recommended Flywheel Coffee as somewhere that we might be interested in visiting as it quote “looked like a chemistry lab”. We added it to google maps and decided to call in on the way back from a visit to the Ocean Beach. The shop is located in Haight Ashbury which is a very cool hippy district with loads of really cool shops and places to eat/drink.
The shop had a similar style and feel to those visited previously. The thing that set this one apart for me was the coffee. It was by far the best coffee that we had on the trip. The espresso was a think and dense Brazil with loads going on very tasty. The Kenyan filter was just like drinking a cup of Ribena. I couldn’t fault either beverage and my only regret is that we visited it too late in the holiday to make it back again.
Four Barrel Coffee
Similar styling to many of the others shops in the area but with a couple of differences. The machines were the fantastic looking LM Mistral with custom logo and then there was the second brew bar which was set apart from the main ordering point. Since we had a busy day planned we just opted for a quick espresso and an orange glazed doughnut for breakfast which we enjoyed whilst watching the roasters at work and both of which were fantastically tasty. On the way out I had an eye on the brew bar and was thinking about grabbing something to take out. I heard the barista talking to another couple about the various coffees that were available and decided to join the queue. We waited quite a while but eventually we got in on the action, we spent around 20 minutes speaking to both the couple in front and the barista as he talked us through the various coffees and made up a couple of quick brews to taste before we committed. The barista was surrounded by various machines, grinders and brewing equipment and had the most amazing enthusiasm for coffee. It was now obvious why this bar was kept separate to the main section as we’d been there for around half an hour and he’d sold about 3 coffees in that time, he did admit that he wasn’t the quickest at serving which was an understatement at best. Either way when we finally left we left with two really tasty, and really different pour over brews in our hands as well as some great hints on places to eat and other great coffee shops in the area.
Ritual Coffee Roasters
Last on the list for the holiday was Ritual which was quite a few blocks away but with one of the newly recommended bakeries directly en route so off we went. We arrived at Ritual and really loved the look of the place, it was quite different to most other shops with its more modern look and feel. The most striking features being that all of the kit was white, the machines (Synesso Hydras), the grinders (including Roburs, EK43, EKK43). Since we’d had quite a bit of coffee already we decided to just grab a couple of espressos. We had one house blend and one seasonal blend both of which rocked. They had a different take to most of the other places and I would say that they were roasting lighter and serving closer to roast date. On the Roburs this resulted in a really nice shot which I’d almost describe as light and fluffy which goes against everything I knew at that point. After a long chat with the barista about their roasting style as well as others including some of the bigger UK roasters some of which he was very familiar with, he made some other recommendations of shops to try and we were on our way.
It’s the second time I’ve been to San Francisco (the first time was 14 years ago) and it’s a city that I just love. It’s a place that focuses heavily on the quality of product and many places use locally sourced produce. They have it all and if you love coffee, happy people, food, nice weather, earthquakes, beer, amazing scenery, wine and/or gang shootings then I think that you would love it too. Seriously though, earthquakes and shootings aside, it was probably the best holiday I’ve ever had, I loved every minute.