This small Middle Eastern café near the TransBay Terminal (technically in the Bechtel Building) is easy to overlook. But that’s where I hope Web sites like this one come in.

In addition to their espresso bar, they have a full-service deli … and they also offer one of the few decent falafel sandwiches in the area. A family owned & operated establishment, it’s a friendly and even sometimes fun place — with an Algerian owner at the register who likes to play a variety of international music choices, from Italian opera to Dean Martin. They also adhere to informal Mediterranean hours — sometimes chasing you out if you don’t vacate before prayers at 12:45pm on Fridays.

Neon beckons in front of Cafe Algiers Cafe Algiers' owner subbing for Zino behind the machine

In 2005, they replaced their two-group La San Marco with a La Spaziale (you may even notice their review laminated and posted on the rear of the machine). But despite the equipment change, the results haven’t changed much over the years. They are quite consistent in their espresso preparation, and they serve it with a rich, deep brown, thick crema. It has a flavor of smoke, pepper, and a honey-like sweetness with a nice, long, smooth aftertaste.

Zino, their master barista, shows his expert skills: Cafe Algiers cleans the groups, preheats cups, and takes all the necessary time to tamp and pull a proper shot to technical specs. The owner — who fills in when Zino isn’t around — tends to pull his shots a bit longer and the resulting cup can have a lighter-colored crema. This is the source of any inconsistency at this establishment, but it’s a solid cup regardless. No push-button espresso here: once flanked by two Starbucks on the same block, they have to be good to survive. (And given that the Starbucks at the corner of Beale & Mission Sts. shut down in early 2006, they’re winning this war.) They serve it in tall, Caffè Umbria-branded IPA cups.

Read the updated review.

Cafe Algiers espresso - a bit of crema, but it's normally darker's review, laminated and prominently displayed on their La Spaziale