Opening up in the latter half of 2008, this café may serve salads, soups, wine, and even light dinner plates, but don’t let that fool you: this is a serious coffee destination. Which is not surprising, given that Andy Newbom of Barefoot Coffee Roasters personally tipped us off to check this place out.

Just a few doors down from the SOMA Whole Foods, it’s a relatively long, recessed space with leather sofas and tables in the back, small wooden tables and chairs throughout, and large windows in front with some stool/counter seating. Outside along the sidewalk there are also some wooden patio café tables.

Entrance to Epicenter Cafe Epicenter Cafe's concrete slab and modern furniture ambiance

Nearby street signage for the Epicenter Cafe All espresso shots here are served as properly short doubles (hence the “large” size identified in the review) from a four-group La Marzocco Linea, and the baristas here aren’t afraid to toss shots that don’t meet their high standards (always a good thing).

When we visited, they offered Barefoot espresso shots from The Boss blend (by default, and it is what’s rated here) as well as single origin shots of Sweet Reserve Brazil (Cerrado, Minas Gerais) and Finca Vista Hermosa Edlyna Guatemala (Huehuetenango). The resulting shot comes with a good, albeit not stellar, textured medium brown crema of decent thickness. But it packs a rich aroma, a potent, compact, syrupy body, and a robust, rich flavor of herbal notes, caramel-like sweetness, and some smokiness. Served in classic brown, thick-walled ACF cups.

Read the review of Epicenter Cafe.

Barefoot Coffee prominently available at Epicenter Cafe Epicenter Cafe's four-group La Marzocco Linea

Another strong contender in SF’s espresso ecosystem — and it’s not Four Barrel (yet)

Epicenter’s is a serious espresso shot with a pedigree refreshingly different from many of SF’s other staples. While San Franciscans are spoiled by having the likes of Blue Bottle Coffee, Ritual Coffee Roasters, or even Mr. Espresso in our midst, there’s a sameness in flavor profile and “vision” that comes from just a handful of great coffee producers in the area. Barefoot’s coffee is just one example that really adds to the espresso “diversity” in town, and the Epicenter Cafe is a great place for showcasing its merits.

On a related note, Four Barrel Coffee‘s long-awaited roasting operations were finally commissioned last month after a long ordeal with city ordinances, permits, and the like. But given what we sampled of their Friendo Blendo espresso blend at recent revisits to Dynamo Donuts and Four Barrel Coffee itself, we were left with a jones for their previous use of Stumptown‘s Hairbender instead. More on that in an upcoming blog post.

The Epicenter Cafe espresso Close up!