It’s well established that DCFüd likes coffee. In particular, we like good coffee, strong coffee, and entertaining methods of coffee production – preferably all together. It should come as no surprise, then, that during a recent visit to San Francisco, I spent more than a little time at the Blue Bottle Café, first on my hotel concierge’s recommendation, and then because it was good.
Hidden in a courtyard which is not actually ‘on’ Mint Street, between Mission and Jessie Streets, it took me a few minutes to find the café. The space is bright and lively, with big tall windows and frankly awkward counter-in-the-middle seating. All the bubbling siphon pots make for a lovely science-lab feel I love. The menu, which changes regularly, is limited, especially since on my first visit they were out of eggs. At noon on a Saturday, this stuck me as especially poor form. The baristas were a mixed bag – but I won’t lie: the super attractive guy who gave me a free extra espresso shot in my au lait may have in fact been nicer than the girl who looked like she was chewing old lemons, but who can say?
Lacking eggs, I ordered the a waffle and siphon pot of coffee. The coffee was good, but I hate that it’s served in tall thin glasses (see above). Pretty, yes, but not a good vessel from which to enjoy hot beverage. It’s possible that this inappropriate delivery contributed to my ambivalence about the coffee. The waffle was also very pretty, and good, but came ‘pre-dressed’ with powdered sugar, maple syrup, and too much butter for my taste. Prices are pretty standard for San Francisco – I paid $13.50 for this, the standard coffee is $2.30, and special iced coffees which I had on subsequent visits were $3.50. It’s all better than Starbucks.
After breakfast, I decided to grab one of the Kyoto iced coffee things to go, since the cute barista said it was good and strong. It was both. Actually, it was phenomenal: super-strong, with a woody flavor like bourbon frozen over pure darkness. If I had any idea how to make this, I would never come down.
On my next visit, I sat at the small section of counter facing the ‘kitchen,’ which was much more comfortable, and I got to watch the mayhem back there for added entertainment. I ordered the polenta. It was tasty, but I’m not sure what makes it ‘polenta’ instead of grits. The consistency was more pea soup than anything. The pancetta garnish is the delicious but rubbery, and there was not enough of it. My companion had the toast with jam. The jam was great, but the gorgeous-looking inch-thick toast is pretty much just white bread. In the end, everything does come back to the coffee: my au lait is stellar. The second was even better, since that’s where the extra espresso shot went.
All in all, Blue Bottle Café is a good place to grab a coffee to go (especially the Kyoto one), or maybe to have a very quick sit-down bite. Or to meet a blind date. Actually, this is a great blind-date location: the seating is not comfortable enough for too much lingering – you have ample excuse to bail out quickly or to suggest a more intimate venue, should you be so lucky. Plus, the coffee is good and the food passable and not so heavy you’ll worry about looking a pig.
And yes, I lied in the first paragraph. I didn’t actually spend much time in the Blue Bottle Café, but rather drinking beverages from it.
Blue Bottle Café
66 Mint St.,
San Francisco, CA, 94103