Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Best cafes: The Blue Bottle Coffee Company, San Francisco

What is it about coffee shops and anonymity? Is it that they like to rely on social media? Word of mouth? Or crowd-attracts-a-crowd mentality, whereby curious passers-by stop to investigate the honeypot that has caused the swarm?

Whichever it is, I like it. There's a smug satisfaction from finding a 'great little place I know', and Blue Bottle is one of them.

It's a serious coffee shop, the sort of place that will make me a decaf soya cappuccino, but where I feel a little self-conscious ordering it when the barista is testing the temperature of purified water before using lab equipment to drip Panamanian Geisha coffee through a silk filter (only the last part of that is an exaggeration).

So, the coffee, as expected, was superb, with a range of beans to choose from, and the staff, as you'd expect in the U S of A, were charming, chatty and happy to make a coffee just how you'd like it, even for philistines like me.

Besides coffee, which included drip, single origin, iced, mochas, shots and frothies, there was a range of teas and a cracking breakfast menu. We had the thick-cut Acme toast with poached eggs from Judy's organic Sonoma farm, tomato Gardiniera, tomato frito, Prather Ranch ham and gruyere ($9.25). The toast was comedy thick, but the dish tasted fresh, light and healthy, and the tomato sauce piquant and homemade.

Other options? poached eggs from Judy's organic Sonoma farm with piquillo pepper corn bread, Prather Ranch spicy Italian sausage, piquillo Pepper and County Line baby greens ($10), or steel-cut oats with brown sugar and whipped butter or mountain fruit jam and cream ($6.50); plus of course a twist on the American classic, compote of K&J Orchards Fuji apples, raisins, Straus yoghurt and Blue Bottle Pecan Granola ($8.50).

A great find - and well worth the queue and the treasure hunt to find it.

Details:, The Mint Plaza location: Siphon bar and single-origin espresso open 8am-12:30pm and 1pm-3pm weekdays; and 9am-12:30pm-1pm-3pm weekends. Breakfast served 8am-11am. Weekend brunch 9am-2pm.

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