Recently we’ve been spending a bit more time on the Peninsula, so we’ve been on the hunt for notable espresso shots just due south of San Francisco. We’ve followed up on a few places that locals admire and put them to the test. The results have been… well… you’ll see.

Some consider this among the best coffee spots in sleepy San Carlos. Maybe that’s not as backhanded a compliment as being elected prom queen at a leper colony, but it still doesn’t really say much. Outside there’s a large sidewalk table and several small café tables indoors. The space is dominated by the elongated serving area, with bins of their own roasted coffee and an old, dingy Probat roaster at the far end of the shop. Given the sandwiches, ice cream, and classical music radio here, this is a full café — even if they are known more as a roastery.

Owner Young Cheong proudly displays a few things on the walls: his training credentials (from Burlingame), their policy to use no roasts older than 21 days, and their commitment to filtered water. Their roasts are rather dark — even the Kenyan beans have a major gloss — and the owner roasts only about once or twice per week.

Plantation Coffee Roasters along the San Carlos strip Dirty Probat roaster at the back spends most of its time as a newspaper stand

Serving espresso from their two-group WEGA, he serves shots that are full and high, with an even, semi-thick light/medium brown crema in their classic brown ACF classic cups. The tobacco flavor leans towards some ashiness, however — as could be expected given the darkness of their roasts.

Careful when asking “for here”: they still might serve you in a paper cup…then crassly dump it in a ceramic one when you point out their mistake. Not exactly recommended, even if you’re lost in San Carlos.

Read the review of the Plantation Coffee Roastery.

Plantation Coffee Roastery's WEGA The Plantation Coffee Roastery espresso - after dumping from a paper cup (ick!)