Move over Peet’s, this new kid on the block is filling mugs of Bay Area coffee drinkers faster than stock market is falling. Blue Bottle Coffee is all the buzz: one patron walking out of the downtown SF cafe enthusiastically declared, “That has to be the BEST coffee I have ever had!”
Bottles, let alone blue bottles, do not generally connote the rich, warming brew upon which so many of have come to depend, so how did Blue Bottle Coffee get its name? In the late 1600s the Turks were invading Central and Eastern Europe and besieged Vienna. One brave Viennese emissary named Kolshitsky stole through the Turkish lines to solicit help from the Poles. The Poles came to Vienna’s rescue and the Turks fled, leaving everything — including bags of coffee beans — behind. Knowing that these beans weren’t camel feed as some thought but the source of a satisfying drink, Kolshitsky taught the Viennese how to make coffee and founded the first coffee house in Central Europe, the Blue Bottle.
What is making coffee lovers skip the 2 block walk to Peet’s and brave the city rush for 10 blocks to Blue Bottle Cafe? For one, the beans. Blue Bottle serves the beans within 48 hours of roasting, giving you the freshest beans possible. The beans are also roasted in small 21-pound batches, allowing flexibility in their roast profiles. As with any good, Bay Area local food business, the beans are organic.
Second, the way the Blue Bottle baristas make coffee. When I saw the baristas pouring hot water into individual ceramic drippers over each coffee cup, I marveled at this new way of making coffee. Turns out the filter drip is actually the old way of making coffee; I was born of the French press generation. Still, there aren’t many places where you can get a cup of filter drip coffee made the moment your order. For detailed tips on making on making coffee with the filter drip, French press, Mokka pot or espresso method, check out the Blue Bottle website.
Select restaurants in the area like Danville’s Sideboard Cafe, Berkeley’s Chez Panisse and SF’s The Slanted Door serve Blue Bottle Coffee, but no place I’ve tried it makes it as well as the Blue Bottle Cafe. The line might run out the door when you drop in, but it’s worth it. A kiosk is due to open in the Ferry Building Plaza soon, one more step in the showdown between Blue Bottle and Peet’s.
Blends we’ve tried:
Giant Steps: Full-bodied with a thick chocolately, fudgy flavor. No need to worry about diminishing the taste when you add milk.
Roman Espresso: Medium-bodied, fruitier than Giant Steps
Decaf Noir: A decaf coffee worth drinking. We wondered if we had accidentally brewed Blue Bottle’s regular coffee because the Decaf Noir maintains the same intensity and body as Blue Bottle’s regular beans.