Saturday, August 16, 2008

blue bottle coffee

We walked over to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market this morning, unbenownstly unprepared, with only one cloth bag in hand, ready to face the seductive lures of summer ripe peaches, flour-dusted golden loaves, and deeply violet-hued fingerlings. On top of all these temptations, Mr.S and I, for the almighty love of the bean (the coffee bean, that is), stood in line for over 30 minutes at the Blue Bottle Coffee Company cart. Throughout our wait, I looked at the people around me, standing around patiently for $3 cups of lattes and $2 cups of made-to-order drip coffee. I couldn't help but wonder, is this all really worth it? Is the length of a line directly proportional to the quality of the product being waited on to be consumed? Why were we punishing ourselves by standing on a queue that had hardly budged in 20 minutes? Ahh, too many questions from a caffeine-starved brain...

When Mr.S handed over my cappuccino, I yelped (yes, like a terrier) a small "Oh!" of pleasant surprise at the brilliant coffee art.

And then I sipped. Very nutty, pleasant and smooth were some of the first thoughts that came to mind. All of Blue Bottle's espresso drinks use a ristretto, double shot and steamed Clover milk. The had nuances of hazelnuts and a subtle sweetness that was enhanced by the milk. I reveled in my delightful morning cup while snacking on their complimentary almond macarons (flavors vary weekly).

We watched the barista for awhile as he prepared custom made drip coffee for customers. He reminded me of a DJ, spinning, with all his tech-y equipment and layout.
He uses a filter drip system, a rather rudimentary one in this case of paper filters and cups, to essentially make coffee extractions. (The original technique uses bunsen burners, glass tubes and flasks for an extremely scientific and exacting process.) The grind and weight of the beans, volume of water, temperature of water, timing of extraction are all key components to a single cup of brew. No wonder people are consistently lining up week after week. This is definitely not your cup of Sanka.

Currently Blue Bottle operates a small cafe on Mint Street over Mission and 5th, as well as a kiosk in Hayes Valley. And of course you can find them Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market, just be prepared for long lines. (Bring a book!)

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