In October 2006, the National Restaurant Association conducted a survey of 1,146 member chefs for what they felt were “hot”, “cool/passé”, or “perennial” items in restaurants today. I’ve always wondered why so many SF restaurants seem to come out with the same trends at the same time — moments where suddenly every restaurant is offering an option of sparkling or still bottled water, serving an amuse-bouche, or offering dishes with figs in them. I used to wonder if they all just came back from the same annual convention, but perhaps these surveys have something to do with it.

Of the 228 items ranked in this year’s survey, “espresso/specialty coffee” ranked seventh among the hottest: 2006 National Restaurant Association Chef Survey. I only wish that good espresso was in vogue, however; there are far too many restaurants that fail miserably at even rivalling an over-extracted Starbucks espresso — made by a minimum-wage barista and a brain-dead, super-automatic, push-button espresso machine.