This second outlet of the locally owned and operated café chain opened with the 2007 New Year. It’s spacious, clean, and (like the original at 3rd & 20th Sts. in Dogpatch) has a Starbucks-like modern design. One of the things I really like about this stretch of 24th St. is that it has the cultural significance of Mission St. without the urine smell. But a store this “sanitized” might earn grumbles from the anti-gentrification set if not for their political leanings.
There’s window counter seating, seating at a few indoor tables, and a couple of outdoor sidewalk tables. The company was founded on the belief that Fair Trade/Organics are the future of American coffee purchases (they’re big believers in Guatemalan-sourced FTO coffees), and I don’t disagree. But you could make the case that FTO will be co-opted as the future of Starbucks, which is perhaps not what the owners intended here.
All that attention to FTO seems to have distracted them, as their choice of a single-group superautomatic Schaerer machine ensures a glass ceiling on their coffee quality. Single origin Guatemalan beans don’t always brew the best flavor profiles for espresso unless you’re dealing with very high quality stocks and the right roast levels, but I primarily point a finger at the choice of machines here.
The resulting cup has a blonde layer of crema of medium-to-light thickness. The cup has a creamier mouthfeel, but it tastes of smoky tobacco and ash. Despite its slightly large volume, it has enough body to keep it in the espresso realm. Not bad, but I see no reason to go back other than if I lived in the area and liked the ambiance. (Though Sugarlump a couple blocks down isn’t a far stretch either.)
Read the review of Sundance Coffee on 24th St.
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