Thanks to a reader tip (which are always welcome and encouraged, btw), we were alerted to the opening this week of Sightglass Coffee in one of the danker parts of SOMA. Note that by “opening” we mean “unlocked” — and not much more than that.
If this sounds a lot like the “modest” opening of Four Barrel Coffee, it’s no coincidence. Owners/brothers Jerad and Justin Morrison have years of veteran experience that includes roasting at Blue Bottle Coffee and the opening of Four Barrel Coffee.
You’d miss this space if you weren’t looking for it. We honestly had to duck under a half-open garage door to get in, and the place looked like it was closing up shop. But despite the tiny serving space at a serving cart on wheels, this is just one corner of a vast, 1924-built, 4,000-sq-ft space with a 25-foot ceiling — or about the size of a typical large auto-body shop in the area. Except this place serves coffee … and not much else (if you include the salt caramels).
They have a Chemex brewing station, which is somewhat unique for the area, but the main attraction is their refurbished two-group La Marzocco GS2 espresso machine — straight out of the 1970s, and a sister to the one just installed at Intelligentsia‘s fabled Venice Beach location. Replace cheesy 1970s leather with wood, tune up the parts, and they’ve got a pretty serious machine for enthusiasts.
Of course — as with all these Works-In-Progress Cafés, Inc. — it doesn’t stop there. Since the new model of opening notable coffee bars these days is to open stripped-down with many promises to upgrade later, the Morrison brothers soon plan to employ one of those fancy new Slayer espresso machines in the near future — as showcased at the 2009 SCAA conference — putting their Slayer customer ID in the single digits. Will its manual control of brewing pressure blow our minds? Only time will tell, folks. In the meantime, we can’t help but snicker every time we hear the machine’s name — which conjures up images of Stumptown‘s Duane Sorenson head-banging while playing air guitar to “Disciple“.
It’s just not the machine that’s slated for an upgrade, either. They currently have access to Verve Coffee Roasters‘ inventory and equipment until the 14-kg Probat roaster is installed and fired up for their own local roasting. As always in this town, the permit process is one of the key roadblocks. Though they hope to have things up and running in September, we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still waiting in December.
The resulting shot has a dark, healthy crema. It’s a touch thin on body, but it has a potent pungent flavor of cloves, herbs, etc. There isn’t much to the dynamic range of the flavors, but what’s there is handled well. Served in classic brown ACF cups.
Don’t mind the 90% of the floorspace that’s still being prepped for their lonely Probat. This place will need revisits, as so much is bound to change in the future. For now, it’s a good shot with the promise of becoming better down the road.
Read the preliminary review of Sightglass Coffee. In the meantime, here’s a video of Sightglass making a cap in action:
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