Showing posts with label SF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SF. Show all posts

Monday, September 03, 2012

CC: Outerlands

Subject: Outerlands
Location: San Francisco, CA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

There are few earthly delights that compare to a nice Sunday brunch with the sea air in your nostrils and a good cup of coffee in your hand. Years ago, this could prove to be a tall order purely based on the minimal use of good coffee at brunch spots but slowly, great eateries, both coastal and land-locked are coming round.

Out by San Francisco's western limits near the sea sits a couple of establishments by the shore, one of them aptly called Outerlands. Specializing in sustainable and organic local fare, their menu has received accolades and the crowds one Sunday afternoon reinforced said claim. There's a bustling counter amidst the inside and outside seating where folks can gaze at much of the menu, and if you can only stay for a spell, there's options for a quick bite as well. 

Sadly, I was not able to stay for brunch that day (they had stopped seating folks when I arrived) and since the only non-espresso coffee they offered was via large chemex for dine-in customers, I had to settle for (just) an espresso of Sightglass' Owl Howl. The shots were pulled short, held a brown crema and exuded flavors of 5 spice, lime, kalamata olive and thick black tea. The drink proved delicious and heavy, with a nice balance. The chemex coffee was also Sightglass.

Thus, the only reason Outerlands gets a 5+ is because of my circumstances in not being able to try the a chemex of their non-espresso coffee. Believe me that everything points to a 6+ and I feel a bit silly holding it back but, even though my observation of them brewing and serving it to a nearby table leads me to postulate that they certainly do a bang up job, I must leave them at a 5+ until I have tasted it with my own tongue. 

But please, by all means, give Outerlands a try as they seem to have the full-blown midas touch. If you get coffee, let me know how it is in the comments below. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

CC: Trouble Coffee

Subject: Trouble Coffee
Location: San Francisco, CA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

When you do a bit of research on coffeehouses, usually the first place you look is their website. Most have pictures of the establishment as well as the usual "About Us" and "Menu" pages, both with occasional useful information about what they really offer and what to expect. 

And a very small percentage of the time, you get a website that makes you curious as to the establishment purely by its odd nature. Take Trouble Coffee & Coconut Club, a small coffeehouse on the far west side of San Francisco that seems to defy convention, but at the same time seems to provide the necessary information if you're willing to seek it out. It did it's job on me, as I added it to my list of places to visit even though it was somewhat out of the way of my travels. 

Sporting an outside seating area complete with flower boxes and a large log, I knew I had found Trouble long before I stepped inside. The interior, while very cozy, maintained an intimate and welcoming feel amidst an array of stimuli. As for coffee, they brew Ecco Caffe, specifically blends called Elbow Grease and the Hammer, the former offered as drip coffee and the latter as espresso. The shots of the Hammer were short with brown crema, smacking of vanilla, peanut, ginger, caramel, cola and lemon; a tart yet balanced spro. The Elbow Grease drip proved (surprisingly at the time) dark, with notes of well-done steak, cigar, white bread, sugar cookies and spinach. I found out later that Elbow Grease is an attempt at a non-bitter French Roast, to which it certainly achieved a great taste compared to a typical French Roast, but I personally found it too dark to be very pleasant. 

In walking away, I can say that the only thing I would have changed would have been the Elbow Grease. Otherwise, Trouble Coffee seems like a great local hangout where folks come to commune over good coffee and toast. If you happen to be on the western edge of San Francisco, make your way over to Trouble Coffee.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

CC: Four Barrel

Subject: Four Barrel Coffee 
Location: San Francisco, CA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

The first time I toured San Francisco in '07, the coffee scene appeared strong, touting such giants as Ritual and Blue Bottle. Yet looking back, it was not nearly as rampant as it is today so during my most recent expedition, I came with a small book full of places to hit. Close to the top of the list was Four Barrel, an establishment that had garnered much praise for their skill in roasting and attention to detail behind the coffee bar.

I made my way to their Valencia St location one afternoon. Doing an initial drive past to make sure I had the right spot, I was surprised to find the parking spaces out front outfitted with an iron-framed seating area, consisting of a wooden bar that faces the cars whizzing by (a style of outside seating that you would rarely see on the East Coast). After parking, I backpedaled to a very popular Four Barrel. The interior appeared voluminous despite the masses, with wood everywhere (rafters, bar, tables, etc) and plenty of artistic elements (like stuffed boar heads) to tie it together. 

When it came time to order, I ordered an espresso and a french press of a Kenyan. Not remembering to ask when I ordered and being deterred by a heavy volume of orders, I did not get the espresso's name, but the mystery did not detract from its pleasant flavors. The espresso was pulled short, displaying a nice brown crema and held out notes of sea salt, bourbon, balsamic vinegar, fig, au jus and croissant. The Kenyan spoke of Cream of Wheat, hazelnut, a bit of raspberry and iced tea amidst a smooth body; a refreshing coffee through and through.

At the risk of sounding obvious, Four Barrel proved well worth the stop. If you live in or pass by the city of San Francisco, make sure to make landfall at 375 Valencia St.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CC: Matching Half Cafe

Location: San Francisco, CA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

As many folks of the Bay Area espouse, despite the small land mass there sure is a vast variability in climate. It can be foggy five blocks from someone lying out in full sun. Do people exaggerate? Sure. Did I experience this weather weirdness? Absolutely. 

One sunny (then foggy, then cloud choked & then sunny again) morning, I took a trip over to Matching Half Cafe for a visit. Rumor had it that they were pulling skilled shots with great coffee over in the Western Addition, using local Sightglass Coffee and also providing good food, beer & wine. Finding a parking spot downhill, I hiked up to a corner building with a red wood exterior, a heavy section of outside seating and nice open windows peering into the muted space within, complete with a fair amount of inside seating and metallic blue walls. 

As for my coffee, I ordered an espresso of Owl's Howl and a Sightglass El Salvador via Chemex. The 'spro, pulled short with brown crema, tasted of chocolate, lemon, cane sugar, vanilla icing, salt and cilantro; a delicious infusion with a nice body. The El Salvador smacked of honey, melon, rye toast, caramel, a subtle earthiness, hefeweizen and cream, gladdening my tongue with the nuances of a smooth and sweet coffee. 

To put it plain, Matching Half ponied up a whole lot of excellent coffee. If you happen to be in the Bay Area, make a stop by. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mugged: Vista Alegre [Henry's]

Mugged: Vista Alegre (Brazil)
Rating: 3+ [see key]

When I get coffee, I like to look up the origin if the specific location is given. With the second coffee I had from Henry’s House of Coffee, I looked up the locale of Vista Alegre on the webs to try to get an idea where it hails from (Henry's site didn't have specifics). According to Coffee Review, there happens to be one estate of that name that has made it's name as an operation that dry processes their cherries by leaving them on the trees to dry (instead of drying post-harvest).

Curious as to whether Henry's Vista Alegre was such a coffee, I was interested to see what qualities the coffee would hold. Preparing it in the usual three methods of drip, french press and siphon, I commenced sipping.

The drip birthed a cup brimming full of tobacco with cloves, all spice, tootsie roll, rye, a little vanilla and a hint of lime; a smoky yet sweet coffee with a medium body.

The french press also held notes of cloves, tootsie roll and vanilla as well as a little sesame seed. While a little thicker, it was still sweet and tobacco-esque.

The siphon achieved higher levels of vanilla and a mellower profile, with smoother flavors of cloves, cocoa and vanilla.

Given that this coffee was roasted a bit dark, it was not surprising that there existed a cloves-centric presence, but fortunately it was decently balanced with the sweet aspects. The coffee didn't really produce the round fruitiness I would associate with dry processed coffee, but then again, maybe it's a different coffee if roasted lighter. Not my favorite Brazilian coffee but by no means my least. Give Henry’s Brazil a go if you’re looking for a darker coffee with nice compliments of sweet and smoky. 

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Mugged: Colombia [Henry's]

Mugged: Colombia Lite Roast
Rating: 4+ [see key]

While San Francisco is currently brimming with lots of new coffee talent, local coffee roasting is something that has been with the city for some time. Sure you have Peet's Coffee that originally launched in Berkeley many decades ago but there is also other roast operations such as Henry Kalebjian, who has been roasting in SF since 1965. 

Recently, his House of Coffee sent me out some coffee to sample, one of them their Colombia Lite Roast. I sampled it through drip, french press and siphon infusions. 

The drip delivered notes of milk chocolate,corn, raspberry, au jus, spinach, milky and a little wheat. A fairly tasty brew with a medium body.

The french press held flavors of corn, milk, cocoa, little wheat, romaine, fig and apple. Not as bright as the first cup but a little sweeter.

The siphon delivered corn, milk, cocoa, raspberry, au jus and spinach. This cup was good, though much more meaty with a little hint of iron.

Of the Colombians I've consumed, Henry roasts a pretty decent one with some delightful flavors. Give it a go, whether you're in town or ordering online.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.