It has been a while, but in an effort to sum up the last stop on my trip, here we go. The first day in San Francisco started with a search for coffee roasted by the Graffeo Brothers . An old fashioned roaster I learned about from Tom in Ohio. The shop I visited was run by an older Asian couple who seemed surprised that anyone even visited their shop. The coffee was decent, but I couldn’t decern anything particular about the roaster. After that I headed down toward the South of Market area to search out coffee roastsers.
The first was Blue Bottle’s café at the Mint Plaza for a tasty machiatto and a few photos. It was populated by people that looked as if they worked at Wieden and Kennedy here in Portland. Then searching out Ritual’s roastery, I discovered they have no café attached to it. So after calling them, I made my way up toward the San Francisco Museum of Art to await a response. Before heading in, I stopped at the brewery nearby, Thirsty Bear, for a pint and some food. Being this side of the Rockies, yup, a stout on nitro. I almost expected to receive the papers on my food’s background too.
Then the SFMOMA turned out to be having a free day! Hurray! The wine exhibit was interesting, as is looked at the vineyard and wine bottle designs as artwork. They even had dirt from the Dundee Hills. Just getting into photography myself, that exhibit was my favorite. It looked at photography as a form of voyeurism, with war, candid shots, and documentary style photos. Afterward I walked around the nearby park and grabbed some sushi before heading out.
What is a trip to San Francisco without a detour up to Napa? So on day two, I made my way up there. On the way I stopped by Blue Bottle’s roaster in Oakland, knowing they had an attached café. Sadly though, I missed their roasters by less than an hour. The whole area it was in felt like Portland’s Pearl District, but more as if it had been built that way intentionally, but the coffee was good and I got a few shots of Evan. Then, up to Napa. Driving around was nice, enjoying the scenery, but I didn’t do too much with the wine. I didn’t even write down the names of the vineyards I went to. After some wine and food, I just headed by to town, not too exciting, but I did happen across a roaster up that way with decent beans.
Day three, I ventured down south to San Jose, this day ended with an interesting mountain drive. It started with heading to Santa Clara to visit Barefoot Coffee’s café, a sort of strip-mall affair. After a wonderful chat with Marie, and some very delicious coffee, she directed me toward their roastery in San Jose. Excited to pay them a visit, I went straight there. So quickly in fact that Marie had not yet called to let them know I was coming. They still put up with my shenanigans and showed me around. I was eventually passed off to Rachel, who had recently been hired to get their Roll-up Bar cafe up and rolling. By now it should be running, so swing by, she was doing a great job while I was there. The espresso machine is even modified with bike parts, very steam-punk.
Their roastery can be tough to find, since the building just looks like a couple of apartments in the middle of a residential neighborhood. With two roasters, Hiver and Kelly, and two machines, they had a great setup. Sadly, Kelly would soon be moving to bigger and better things. But there’s always time for a foosball game.
Then into the city itself for a visit to Red Berry, a small café near the city hall, which tries to carry and rotate a number of roasters. Sort of like Barista here in Portland, it was good. After that I headed to the TECH museum, which was technically a disappointment, just felt like OMSI and geared more toward kids. Then after a quick bite to eat, the drive! The drive back to Pacifica started by planning to drive west to the beach, then up highway 1. Along the way it got dark and I figured I wouldn’t see anything anyway, but would keep going. Well, I missed the turn and ended up taking the road along the top of the hills, not the coast. Lots of turns and bends, ups and downs, and no lights. It was quite the white-knuckle drive at night.
My final day was back in the heart of the city, sort of. It began with paying a visit to Ritual’s roastery, finally! I was greeted by Joel, their master roaster, and discovered that Alex had not actually let anyone else know someone would be coming for a visit. So that was a little awkward, but they let me in anyway. I amused myself with taking photos and bugging Ryan (Another roaster) about the Probat they were refurbishing. It would more than double their capacity per batch, meaning no more 10+ hours of roasting each day. After they seemed tired of me, I headed out to explore the Castro for a while, and to later swing by their café for a cupping.
The cupping was a great one, open to the public every Friday, and many of their staff were there (Ryan, Joel, Alex, and their green buyer who’s name I cannot remember), plus four or five other people. One of those others was Kat, a big coffee enthusiast trying to break into the industry but getting to know the business and people first. After the cupping, I was feeling pretty done, so headed back to Pacifica and hung-out till the next morning when I flew back home to good old Portland.
That’s how I do over three weeks wandering around the country. My next task will be to try and write a post specifically summarizing the roasters I visited, hopefully before too long. Perhaps to answer the question, why are coffee roasters always so happy?