Opening just a week ago — in the space previously occupied by the Illy shop, Caffé Il Latte — this tiny café is the first in San Francisco to use beans from Santa Cruz-based Verve Coffee Roasters.

The tiny space relies on mirrored walls to add depth, and there is a little bit of a kitchen to prepare their local, organic foods. But it seems largely about the coffee here — even if people are apparently always coming in asking for bagels. There’s a single square wooden table inside with wooden bench seating on two ends.

Meanwhile, their three-group La Marzocco Linea at the front counter almost dominates the space. The place is run by two former Blue Bottle staffers in Kate and Shannon Amitin, and Verve was convinced this was the right place to start an SF presence.

Entrance to the tiny Farm:Table Café Bustelo? Someone has been drinking too much PBR

For their standard espresso shot (reviewed here), they use Verve’s All-City blend — which was custom designed for the café. Shannon indicates he wanted an espresso blend without “trendy” fruitiness in its flavor profile, and the All-City delivers a potent, sharp, extremely bright shot that reminds us a little of Stumptown‘s Hairbender. They were going for an Italian-style espresso, and it is served relative short and with a very potent herbal flavor. (It is not for the meek who like their coffee mellow or with milk.)

They considered forgoing the whole “single origin thing”, but they offer a unique Sumatra ($3.50) that contrasts greatly with their espresso blend: more floral and smooth-bodied. Served in classic brown ACF cups. And to appeal to the trendy misery coffee market, they also sell cans of Café Bustelo. Kate’s SF-famous sea salt caramels are also on offer.

Read the review of Farm:Table.

Farm:Table's La Marzocco Linea dominates the tiny space with a row of Verve beans below The Farm:Table espresso

A San Francisco Espresso Milestone?

Farm:Table represents a sort of milestone for us — and a good one at that. In the six years we’ve been publishing espresso reviews here at, we’ve witnessed a number of coffee bar openings…and closures. We see Farm:Table representing the natural turnover from a previous generation of coffee bars to a new one with much better standards.

We’ve long been noting how often new coffee bar openings crack our Top 20 rankings for the city. Many of them have been highly publicized and located in SF’s “trend-friendly” neighborhoods. But when the replacement for a hole-in-the-wall café opens up in a less-traveled coffee neighborhood, offering excellent espresso and featuring a new roaster for the city, we have to take a step back and appreciate how much local standards have improved in San Francisco.