The Mission is one of SF’s best neighborhoods. We don’t necessarily mean Mission Street, however: home to BART’s Plasticuffs Station and a decent assortment of angry heroin addicts. We’re talking about 24th Street — a working class neighborhood with a strong immigrant community, but without many of Mission Street’s rougher edges.
Decent coffee is now on the list of this neighborhood’s amenities. Along 24th Street, east of Mission St., a series of independent cafés opened in recent years — Sugarlump, nearby Mission Pie, Sundance, Dynamo Donuts, and also Haus. (We’re deliberately excluding the coffee atrocities down at L’s Caffé.) These may not be coffee destinations in their own right, but they offer several options for a decent shot, or cup, among these few city blocks.
Not being big fans of the coffee in Germany, the Haus name doesn’t carry much appeal for us. This fortunately doesn’t apply to the coffee here. The former El Mexicano Restaurant converted over to this airy espresso bar in May 2009. There are concrete floors, a tall ceiling, unfinished wood chairs and tables, and a lot of sunlight through the large glass panes in front and back. In back there’s also patio seating among several tables.
They use Ritual Coffee for espresso (their Evil Twin Brasil blend for our visit) and De La Paz for their filter coffee — and there’s a lot of varieties stacked up on the shelves behind the service area. They were also playing France Gall when we first came in, which immediately signals, “this isn’t your average coffee shop.” (And it scored points for good esoteric tastes.)
Btw, Kanye, this is one of the best videos of all time — France Gall’s “J’ai retrouvé mon chien”:
Using a three-group La Marzocco GB/5, they pull shots with a medium brown, even crema of decent thickness. It’s a smooth-bodied shot with strong characteristics of the underlying coffee blend: sweetness, brightness, and the sharp potency of lemon peel. It’s a solid, flavorful cup — but it may vary based on your favorite flavor profiles. Served in classic brown Nuova Point cups.
Read the review of Haus.
These citrus shots — aka, brightness bombs — seem to be a highly popular flavor profile for new espresso bars these days. And it’s not just this and our last SF café review. While we like the experience of a brightness bomb now and then, we hope that this doesn’t become more and more routine. Sameness is already a very real issue in the flavor profiles among some of the Bay Area’s best espresso purveyors.
As Stumptown exemplified with their Hairbender shots, espresso doesn’t have to have a smooth, rounded flavor profile to achieve lofty heights. That was a good thing and a break from what might be called a more traditional Italian espresso. But these days it seems more and more shots from new, notable cafés target just that narrow range of the flavor spectrum — whether through medium-roasted single origin Central American shots or simple blends that make an all-out assault on acidity. Coffee simply does not advance by replacing one monotone flavor profile for a different one.
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