Zoka Road Trip – San Francisco

San Francisco: Bright Coffees, Big City

During a January weekend, two of our senior baristas, Chris and Megan, went on a coffee pilgrimage to San Francisco and the Bay Area. Their mission was to explore and enjoy the vibrant, developing coffee scene. Their explorations provided an interesting portrait of the work being done in the Coffee industry outside of Seattle. Americanos, macchiatos, espressos, and drip coffee were plentiful throughout the city. At Mavelous, Chris noted that their barista, Philip, was “methodical about the shot he pulled.”

Over a few days, they traversed the hilly streets, enjoying a wide range of excellent coffees – from Ritual Coffee Roasters to Blue Bottle Coffee Roasters, Cafe Mavelous, and Sightglass Coffee. Megan enjoyed the quality of the barista’s coffee slinging skills, saying “John and his team at Blue Bottle pulled us some amazing espresso.” Chris and Megan even ventured to the original Peet’s Coffee in Berkeley, where the Specialty Coffee movement in modern American culture began, and toured its in-house coffee museum. Filled with memorabilia, our baristas paid homage to the second wave on Walnut and Vine.

They were able to try a variety of single-origin coffees during their visit as well. At Sightglass they sampled chemex-brewed Kenyan and Latin American coffees. Our Zoka baristas were impressed with the quality of the work being done. “CC roasted some great coffees,” Megan said, adding that Josh and RJ provided her and Chris some high-quality shots of espresso. While checking out Four Barrel, they were able to sample single-origin espressos prepared by Four Barrel’s barista, Brett “the Viking,” who also made a selection of pour-overs.

Reflecting on the coffee differences he noticed, Chris said: “One of the larger contrasts between San Francisco culture and our Seattle culture, in terms of coffee flavor profiles, was the brightness and more perceptible crispness and citrus found throughout many of the coffees we tasted around San Francisco. The traditional Seattle profile has focused on chocolate, nut, and caramel flavors heavy in Indonesian and Brazilian bases which also produce a heavier mouthfeel and richer body. I didn’t get a lot of that in the Bay. The preferred flavors and body felt very appropriate in San Francisco’s environment, though.”

Our baristas came home glad to be able to experience a different coffee culture and see first-hand how the Coffee industry is evolving. The differences in the San Francisco palate intrigued them, but they appreciated the quality of the work being done around the Bay.