This large, spacious café, located near SF City College, is a rare Ingleside gem. It’s of Italian influence by way of Argentina. Part coffee roastery and café, part restaurant.
They have two sidewalk benches along Ocean Ave. in front (perhaps the only SF city street wide enough to land a 747). Inside there’s a wide space with tall ceilings, a skylight, and numerous tables. In front there’s what looks like a Primo PRI-20 25-lb roaster surrounded by plastic bins and burlap sacks of green beans. (They apparently roast only once weekly.) There’s also a wall of pre-bagged coffee for purchase — including their new “Obama Blend” of Kenyan coffees (reflecting the politics of the place).
They pull shots with an old school, two-group La San Marco near the register. With it they produce espresso shots with an even, slightly thin layer of medium brown crema. Using darker roasted coffees — in a way that is very un-trendy these days, but done well — the resulting shot has a bold flavor with a nice pungency of spices and a classic espresso italiano edge.
Yes, drinking darkly roasted coffees these days feels a bit like drinking merlot after the movie Sideways came out: i.e., there’s a lot of good stuff out there, but the fleeting faddishness of public tastes and opinion have, at least momentarily, placed it squarely in the gauche category.
There’s a strong component of smokiness and a slight tobacco edge to its flavor. It’s a bit thinner on the body given the rest of the cup qualities — not surprising, given the large pour for single shots (doubles are just 25¢ more). Served in classic brown, thick-walled ACF cups. And definitely worth the trek.
Read the review of Caffe D’Melanio.
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