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What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

Hetch Hetchy needs 5-10micron filtration but not softening. IIRC, it was at 49-55 <units> or ~2.5 grains. With the drought, it's probably higher but not off the charts. I descaled both boilers on my machine and turns out both were extremely clean after 1 1/2 years. My friend's water in Los Altos (source?) was through the roof....12-14 grains IIRC.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

I'm not saying one is darker than the other. The only coffee I generally buy that dark is Vivace. Otherwise it typically city plus roast. With so many great roasters in the area, I focus on making the coffee and not the roasting. I leave that up to the true roasting professionals.

And since no one has mentioned it, the 3 most important things for making great coffee are: fresh beans (typically no more than ~12 days after roast), good technique and a great grinder. The 4th ingredient is a good machine/pour over/drip/french press/etc. For me, Mahlkoenig K30 and a La Spaziale Vivaldi.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

Actually ignorant or unknowledgeable (and all too common) roasters call burnt coffee beans French or Italian roast and then the public incorrectly adopted the wrong terminology. If you look at Illy or Lavazza, they are "espresso roast" and many shades lighter than char$'s and aren't coated in rancid oil like Philz beans. Kind of like Char$'s calling calling a 16 ounce milk drink a "cappuccino" when a real (traditional) cappuccino is ~6 ounces.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

I haven't been to Old Soul but been to Temple many times including a 5 hour private espresso making class. Absolutely phenomenal. The training is extremely valuable and their coffees are absolutely top notch. This place is 2nd to none. They also offer free shipping for orders over $25.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?


Palo Alto/Menlo Park rant

It's the grinder, the bean and the person making it. It's not the espresso machine is by far the least important part.

He has a Compak K10 grinder.

He had a La Spaziale Vivaldi double boiler. On my Vivaldi at home, I've pulled many a god shots. Now he has a La Marzocco GS/3 (I think) with pressure profiling. It's definitely an upgrade but beyond miniscule compared to getting rid of the crappy months-old Illy coffee and now roasts his own beans.

Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to try it. Maybe tomorrow.

Palo Alto/Menlo Park rant

Fraiche is ok in a pinch. After that, all the other places are junk. Philz is on par with Char$'s, so absolutely disgusting. Their own description of one of their coffees includes the word "charcoal" (or something similar).

Red Rocks in Mountain View acceptable. The Sweet Shop in Los Altos uses Verve and is variable depending on who is working.

For french press, Calafia in PA and Scratch in Mtn. Both are restaurants.

Red Berry is Los Altos uses beans from the best roasters in the US (Intelli, Stumptown, etc.) and is by far the best.

South Bay Cafes?

Red Berry Coffee on Main St. in Los Altos opened up a month or so ago. GREAT coffee from many different top roasters (Intelligentsia, Temple, Verve, etc.). Plenty of place to spread out upstairs. Wireless. Small selection of very good pastries. The make cold brew/slow drip coffee too. Parking is much easier than downtown Mountain View.

Quality cheese (for wine pairing) between Mountain View to San Mateo?

I have in the past seen Harley Farms at the Los Altos Whole Foods in the refrigerator section where the fresh mozzarella is.

Looking for good, roasted whole coffee beans in South Bay

And another high-quality local roaster:
Highnote Coffee
Contact them as you may be able to arrange a local pickup rather than shipping it.

Looking for good, roasted whole coffee beans in South Bay

There is also the coffee subscription from Sweet Maria's in Oakland. They are apparently one of the few major coffee importers in the US. $35 every two weeks gets you 2 pounds every 2 weeks including shipping.

Verve always has Streetlevel and/or Sermon for espresso. They occasionally pull shots using other bean. You can easily tel l which beans they use for espresso by the black label on their whole beans. And the roast date is on the package like all good roasters (and not "Good until February 31, 2020" like *$s)

Looking for good, roasted whole coffee beans in South Bay

Barefoot is around but in name only. I haven't been to any since the name was bought out from the roaster but have heard from coffee snobs and non-snobs that their coffee is no longer good in their cafes. I haven't heard if their beans are still good.

Looking for good, roasted whole coffee beans in South Bay

There is also Bitter + Sweet in Cupertino that uses Sightglass.

Looking for good, roasted whole coffee beans in South Bay

Verve is proper roasting and it depends on the type of bean (bourbon, catuai, peaberry, etc.) and their intended use whether the bean is roasted to city, full city or darker.

Zombie Runner in Palo Alto carries Moksha. Moksha beans typically are low acidity, heavy on the chocolate/caramel flavors.

Sweet Shop in Los Altos has Verve delivered Thursdays.

Bellano carries Verve and possibly others.

Red Berry is opening up in Los Altos and rotates through all the top roasters in the US.

Red Rocks in Mountain View carries 4 Barrel. I've had very mixed results with their coffees though. They too have very mixed results the times that I was by their shop in SF.

Chromatic is just down the street from Bellano.

I've had some great shots from Blue Bottle and more often not, not so great but they definitely have a very strong following.

Linea Caffe in San Francisco

The Brazil is amazing as a straight shot as well as a cappuccino! 6 days after roast, 15.5 to 16g dose (53mm portafilter) at 92 C with a 28-30 second 1.5 ounce pull. Amazing how a half pound of coffee can disappear.

German "Oktoberfest" menu at Steins, Mountain View

>Steins has never even "pretended to be remotely authentic"
>in any particular -- such a statement just reflects
>someone's mistaken assumptions.

From the MTV Voice:
"I wanted to make it very German, a very authentic German Oktoberfest,..." ~Ted Kim owner of Steins.

German "Oktoberfest" menu at Steins, Mountain View

Ask for a "stein" in Germany and they'll look at you like you have 6 heads (unless you are in ultra-touristy location).

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma%C3%9F
"Maßkrug (plural: Maßkrüge), a one litre volume glass drinking vessel with a handle. This is frequently used in Bavarian beer gardens and beer halls and is a staple of Oktoberfest. It is often referred to as a beer stein or beer mug by English speakers."

So what I wrote is correct. Only ignorant or uninformed tourists and the restaurant call it a "stein." :)

German "Oktoberfest" menu at Steins, Mountain View

I still can't get over the name "Steins." It sounds like it was contrived for ignorant tourists such as the Hofbraeu Festzelt at Wiesn. A "stein" is a stone and has nothing to do with beer. How can this place be even pretend to be even remotely authentic?

BTW, I did try to get a beer there once. I sat at the bar for 10 minutes. Not one of the 5 bartenders stopped their conversations and walked over. I got up and left and went over to Mervyn's.

best dark roast coffee beans in Berkeley / Oakland area

I can't believe Schomer, Peet's and French Roast (ie carbonized defect coffee beans) are mentioned in the same thread.

Next I suggest we compare a 2 dozen course tasting menu at The French Laundry with McDonald's "pommes frites."

New markets in Mountain View / Palo Alto area

From the Mountain View Voice on June 1, 2012:

Sprouts Farmers Market at the NE corner of El Camino and San Antonio in the store Tower Records and Rasputin Music vacated. No opening date was mentioned. There's a Sprouts in Sunnyvale on El Camino.

The Fresh Market. "European-style" market as part of a North Carolina chain in the Edgewood Shopping Plaza ( 1161? Embarcadero Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303) with a planned opening of late 2012 or early 2013.

Miki's Farm Fresh Produce (3445 Alma St., Palo Alto, CA) set to open late summer or early fall. Miki worked at the Berkeley Bowl for many years.

Just moved to Mountain View from New York. Help an east coast hound find his new favorite haunts!

For coffee:

Red Rocks who uses 4 Barrel from SF. Quality varies depending on who the barista is like at any coffee shop. Red Rocks variability is a little greater though. I do like their pour-over bar though.

Scratch has good coffee but that is a restaurant and not a coffee shop.

Every other place in MTV is pretty bad.

Sweet Shop in Los Altos. This is a candy store but has excellent espresso using Verve beans.

Zombie Runner in Palo Alto using Moksha Beans. This is a store for runners with a very good coffee bar within it.

Barefoot Coffee. Very good coffee but not my favorite. I'd rather go to the next 2 places....

Bitter + Sweet in Cuptertino using Sightglass Coffee from SF. Quite a cool place that is open late. Excellent coffee.

Bellano Coffee in Santa Clara or Cupertino. They used to switch around beans but now I think they mostly stick with Verve.

Fraiche in Palo Alto. This is the only place that I know of where I've gotten an excellent shot using Blue Bottle.

Visitor -- Coffee? Chinatown? Good Bar for a Single Lady?

Four Barrel varies. Last time there I stood in line for 15 minutes and was served a sink shot. I pull better shots off my La Spaz + Mahlkonig K30 than their Speedster and Roburs. For more consistency, head to Sightglass or M'velous (sp?). M'velous is a small quite cool hang out coffee and wine bar.

Where to buy a pound of coffee?

In Palo Alto there is Zombie Runner. It's a running store but has a very good espresso bar inside. Very good coffee and espresso drinks using coffee from Moksha in Mountain View. Many of Moksha coffees are low in acidity and chocolate bombs. Not the most complex but excellent. They also happen to be _very_ forgiving as far as dose, temperature, length of pull for espresso and number of days after roast which is good for home usage. You can get their coffees at Zombie Runner or call them up and arrange to pick it up at their roasting site in Mountain View. They are the smallest of the local roasters.

Breakfast with cyclists in Palo Alto/Portola Valley/Woodside etc?

The bakery and restaurant in Pescadero is considered close to Woodside for cyclists.

Where to buy a pound of coffee?

The grind fineness (ie calibration) and less so the temperature have tweaked on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. 1 degree Celsius makes a very pronounced change in the coffee. And that is with great and fresh beans and a great grinder. That is why most coffee shops are horrendous.

Where to buy a pound of coffee?

Philz describes their "Ether" coffee as such:

"Among the darkest blends available at Philz. Appropriately named, this blend is not for the faint of heart. The ether blend is dark, oily, with charcoal tones and a strong clean finish. One of the strongest tasting blends at Philz."

I can't believe a food supplier would proudly describe their offerings as having a "charcoal" taste. What would your reaction be if you opened a menu at a steak house that read "We proudly burn our filets into a carbonized mess nearly indistinguishable in taste and texture from 10 year old charcoal soaked in lighter fluid." 'nuff said.

Where to buy a pound of coffee?

Their Santa Rosa facility is literally an industrial workshop since it is only for roasting....and if a customer is local. Don't expect a "coffee shop." I think you can select "customer pickup" if ordering from their website. Their prices are per pound (as opposed to many places at 12 ounces). Their shipping is high but it ships the same day it is roasted and is well worth it.

As for which coffees I like of theirs. It depends how I'm brewing it. I like their non-organic Espresso. For regular coffee made in a chemex, I like their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. I've also had one of their SO coffees from Guatemala that was insanely good pulled as an espresso. All pulled using a Baratza Vario grinder and La Spaziale Vivaldi. In general, check their descriptions or call them up and describe what kind of coffee flavors you like.

Where to buy a pound of coffee?

Ecco Caffe is in Santa Rosa. They are considered one of the top 5 in the world. Very balanced flavors (so never exaggerated acidity, etc. that is all too common). Not sure if they will ship ground coffee because of the rule of 15.....ie, the coffee is stale 15 minutes after ground or 15 days after roast. Maybe they'll do it if you pick it up at their roasting facilities. Just about all of their beans are incredible. I just got 3 pounds of it today and it was roasted less than 24 hours ago.

If you want good coffee, get a good burr grinder. They start at $200 and go up to $3000 (220V Mazzer Robur).

I dont' have too much experience with Equator but remember them being worth checking out. Same goes for de la Paz in SF. Much of the Verve coffees are very good.

Best Cappuccino in SF

Read my review of Cafe Trieste.
I gotta admit though, they do have good tap water. For all else, go somewhere else!

Cafe Trieste
199 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Best Coffee Shop in Oakland/Berkeley?

Could be a number of factors. Some factors:
1. how many days after roast are the beans?
2. how far in advance are you grinding the beans before brewing?
3. What kind of grinder are you using?
4. What method of brewing are you doing?
5. How fine are you making the grind?
6. What kind of coffee is it? Different coffees can taste completely different.
7. How finely are you controlling the temperature of the water? Have you tried higher or lower?

As for espresso, the world's best barista can pull sink shots from time to time. If it is that bad, tell them that. They should be more than happy to make you a new shot. And if they make you a god shot, tell them too.

My experience with their Friendo Blendo blend a year ago was positive. I got a bag from Red Rocks about 2 months ago that was marked fresh but was definitely old beans by the way it was pulling using my Baratza Vario grinder + La Spaziale Vivaldi. I got a new bag. 4-5 days after roast it pulled well but still tasted overly acidic at all temperatures ranging from 92C to 96C and from 25 sec espresso to 40 second ristretto. Overall, for this combination, I gotta agree with you. It was undrinkable for my tastes.

For local coffees, my go to beans are Verve The Sermon but that is only because I don't have Ecco or Stumptown beans sold near by.

Red Rock Cafe
1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

322 Lorton Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010