The Peninsula offers little in the way of great espresso. This is supposedly one of the better examples, but it’s not something we would be proud of. If someone was visiting us in San Mateo and wanted a good espresso, we’d still send them all the way to Palo Alto first.
The Peninsula Coffee Roaster & Deli has two main seating areas, separated by what appears to be a deli business that was grafted on to both the roaster and it’s name. The main — and we can only guess, original — space is dominated by their coffee bar, jars of their own roasted coffee for retail sale (and way too many of them flavored coffees), and a bit of stool seating with some tall café tables by the front windows. As if the flavored coffees weren’t cheesy enough, this spot plays a lot of KKSF smooth jazz/saxophone music — i.e., the soundtrack to your root canal.
In the next room over is their deli. In front are a couple of tiny outdoor sidewalk tables.
Using a three-group La Spaziale 3000 at the bar, they pull shots with a semi-thin, even, pale crema. It’s made from a classic, middle-America over-roasted blend, leaving the cup (filled a bit high) with a cross of flavors between ashiness and some harsher tobacco.
The end result is kind of a flashback — like a San Francisco espresso circa 1984, when we knew so much less about good espresso than we do now. Is it any wonder why Starbucks rules the suburbs? Independents like this should rightfully fear Starbucks, because the quality here isn’t much better.
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