The vibe in the San Francisco coffee scene when I was living there was very special and unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. People just…cared. They cared about the mugs they used (the fact that they would actually serve coffee in a mug, instead of a Styrofoam cup which is what I was used to, was already pretty special), they took the temperature of water before they poured it over coffee! They ground the coffee right before using it! Shocking, I know.
What I particularly loved about the scene was that everyone was so open to talking about coffee and sharing advice, brewing tips, places to go to get beans. I found a great roaster operating less than a block from my apartment: Graffeo Brothers. Graffeo was, it seemed, usually closed. They sold coffee to restaurants and stores but it seemed like their end user facing business was never open when I walked past. But I did eventually buy a bag of beans and they were good enough to give me some advice about how to brew it. At this point I knew enough not to buy ground coffee (I’ll write the story of how I embarrassed myself at Blue Bottle by asking if they would sell me ground coffee later on) but they were very helpful.
Experimenting with local cafés I found more than I could imagine that offered excellent quality brews; Café Greco, Café Roma, Trieste (a place famous for its association with the Beats) and who knows how many more? I found myself surrounded by places that it seemed wanted nothing more than to sell me a great cup of espresso or coffee. I’d never been any place like that before or since, and I hope to one day move back to SF so I can enjoy all those places again.
One aspect of the coffee scene I never got to appreciate was home roasting. I never even knew that this was an option, but doing research now I know that so many places in the Bay Area sell green beans and home roasters that the demand must have been there. I just missed it.
In any case, I’ll be writing about some of my favorite cafes and roasters in SF very soon.
Thanks for reading.