This week the The San Francisco Chronicle published a piece on the anticipated October opening of Coffee Bar, located at at 1890 Bryant St., which is really on the NE corner of Mariposa & Florida Sts. — just west of Potrero Hill: The Inside Scoop / Restaurants retooling decor, menus, concepts. As it so happened, this week one of Coffee Bar’s co-founders, Luigi Di Ruocco, invited me to check out the new space.
So why is TheShot posting news about espresso bars that don’t even exist yet?
No, we’re not going the tablehopper route — treating espresso bars like upcoming movies in Hollywood gossip columns. Regular readers may recall that Luigi is part of the family that has owned and operated Oakland’s Mr. Espresso for over a generation. However, particularly savvy readers may also note that I’ve rated the employee bar at Mr. Espresso as serving a better espresso than anything served publicly in the entire Bay Area. So despite Luigi’s modesty, it’s worth keeping an eye out for what’s going on here.
Between now and October, co-owners Luigi, Jason Michael Paul, and Michael Richardson have plenty of work to transform the former Arc Cafe space into Coffee Bar. (The Chronicle corrected their faux pas of calling it the site of the “former” Axis Cafe — which is still in business and was apparently mixed up with co-owner Richardson’s roots there.) In front is a sidewalk patio area with a cyclone fence that they’ll be taking down. Inside the space is currently taped-down concrete and bare walls on two levels.
While Luigi and I discussed our appreciation for the likes of Blue Bottle Coffee Co., we also noted how they left a lot to be desired as a space to engage with and appreciate coffee. (Coincidentally, Blue Bottle Café is still in the works for a Mint Plaza opening — also in October.) Thus the concept behind Coffee Bar is more than just good coffee; it’s about bringing more of what’s been traditionally associated with the wine-tasting experience to coffee enjoyment. For starters, that will include featured coffee tastings, coffee flights, quality food to match, and beer & wine. They’re even bringing in a Swiss-made Pacojet machine, as used at Restaurant Gary Danko, for producing ice creams and sorbets virtually on-demand.
Since the demise of Café Organica, and along with Bar Bambino, Coffee Bar plans to fill the SF void of good coffee places that offer a choice of beans for your espresso. Luigi says they expect to offer about three bean variety choices, including one decaf.
But to be clear, this café won’t cater exclusively to coffee snobs. The co-owners are clearly trying to make the place inviting, fun, and not at all intimidating.
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