This is the flagship kiosk of a series of hole-in-the-wall cafés named after Lambretta scooter models (the others being Cento and Special Xtra). There’s even a yellow Lambretta in back with the Cafe Lambretta logo written across its windscreen — a remnant from the owners’ first, and now defunct, café foray. There’s even a Cento scooter hung way up high.
Like its sister locations, it sports heavy Blue Bottle Coffee branding. Unlike its sisters, there’s a bench to sit on (ooh-la-la, how posh is that?), a makeshift sidewalk counter in front to stand at, and a lot of metalwork that went into the store signage — all warmed up by a lone, token fern. It’s these “amenities” that make the Vega location the most comfortable of this chain, but that’s still saying very little.
The more we think about it, the more Vega/Cento/Special Xtra/et al. fits SF’s recent mold of what we’ve called fetishized coffeehouses. Although the Lambretta thing makes for a weak fetish compared to other Bay Area examples, the chain’s theme of glorified lemonade stands definitely targets a kind of coffee shop fetish in format if not theme.
In addition to their Macau iced coffee and teas, the real love here is on the espresso. They also sell Vega-co-branded Blue Bottle beans at the counter — though we noticed that these can sometimes run two-weeks-old after the stamped roast date.
From a three-group La Marzocco Linea, they pull a modest shot with a textured medium and darker brown crema that’s a little on the thin side. It has a dark, semi-potent flavor of herbal pungency, but its flavor profile range is a bit narrow. It’s a guess, but we suspect the bean stocks could be a little fresher for an improvement here. Served in classic brown Nuova Point cups.
Read the review of Vega at Langton.
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