For the past few months, we have exchanged notes and e-mails about a number of coffee places and events in the area with fellow SF coffee blogger, Christian G, of Man Seeking Coffee fame. (We’ve added the “G” here in an attempt to give him some rap-star-like mystique.) More recently, we collectively had the idea to pull a sort of Siskel & Ebert-like joint review together. This Dynamo Donuts trip report is a result…

This high-end donut purveyor may not have “espresso” in their name, but they take it every bit as seriously as their $2 donuts. Of course, for the many purists who believe that a Mission postal address requires a vow of poverty — and that only cheap dives and cheap food belong in the neighborhood — a $2 donut is cause for outrage. Whether or not you believe the less fortunate need equal access to donuts, can you just hear the revolution starting with, “Let them eat donuts!”??

On the subject of qu’ils mangent de la brioche, Dynamo’s hooped-shaped confections are hardly things your grandmother would recognize as a “donut.” They’re more akin to a sort of round cake. But they are enough to bring out the inner Homer Simpson in a lot of people.

Approaching Dynamo Donuts on 24th Street 'Seating' outside Dynamo Donuts

Despite these accusations of donut snobbery, you could say that Dynamo is pretty much a glorified sidewalk lemonade stand. There is a row of chairs on the sidewalk for outdoor seating (OK, for any seating whatsoever). And the on-duty barista/donutmonger might ask you to mind the store while she, or he, needs to take a restroom break. We’re talking a modest operation.

Here they stick to some high-quality ingredients: Stumptown Hairbender, Clover organic milk, etc. Using a four-group La Marzocco Linea, they take their time and make deliberate shots of espresso with a mottled medium- and dark-brown crema of a good, but uneven, consistency and some real thickness. Rumor has it that some of the folks over at Four Barrel Coffee believe that this Linea pulls better shots than their deluxe hot rod Mistral machines. That could be more familiarity than quality talking, but hey — sometimes that’s the price of art.

As with the Hairbender served at Four Barrel, the shot has an intense brightness that gets more potent at the bottom of the cup. With a semi-syrupy constency and a strongly pungent flavor, you may be hard pressed to blind taste their Hairbender versus Four Barrel’s version to tell them apart. And that’s a good thing.

It seems that the donuts-for-espresso barter between Dynamo and Four Barrel has afforded benefits for both locations. Christian had pretty much the exact same opinion about their espresso (call it “two thumbs up”?). And after plugging in our rating numbers, sure enough: Dynamo Donuts scored dead even with Four Barrel Coffee.

Read the review of Dynamo Donuts.

Dynamo Donuts' four-group Linea and coffee menu The Dynamo Donuts espresso - with a chocolate spice donut

UPDATE: Sept. 24, 2008
Christian posted his review of Dynamo Donuts on Man Seeking Coffee: Man Seeking The Shot: A Trip to Dynamo Donuts « Man Seeking Coffee. Let’s just say I knew I was in the presence of someone poetically inspired by the possibilities of the “common” donut.