This neighborhood café opened in late 2009 with the idea of serving sexual perversions and coffee in the same location. This is one of the more obvious examples of how coffeeshops are being fetishized in the Bay Area. We’ve written about espresso bars in bicycle shops, laundromats, video stores, runners shops, motorcycle shops, gardening supply stores, pirate radio stations, churches, and comic book stores. Finally: the kink shop.
However, if you visit here during most daylight hours, the name of this place — and its subtitle of “Kink Café and Boutique” — is far more titillating than the vibe you’ll find inside. They stage evening events that are another story — such as “bring your human pet” night. But beyond a small case of S&M gear for sale, located across the bar, and some paintings of leather-clad models, inside it is pretty much a basic, run-of-the-mill café.
In classic San Francisco fashion, it even caters to vegans somewhat in its food fare of sandwiches, salads, and sweets. But SF being what it is, we thought a vegan friend of ours was joking when she mentioned that some patrons once caused a minor stir over their lack of vegan bread options. Our response?: “WTF is vegan bread? Isn’t most bread vegan?” Then to prove her point, she pointed out user reviews on Yelp! complaining about “NO vegan bread”. (*facepalm*)
What is it with San Francisco? We swear, you could open a medical marijuana clinic with topless dancers and absinthe on tap, and some pet-issue whiner will still moan that they don’t serve vegan bread. We’ll leave it to someone else to debate whether kopi luwak coffee is vegan or not.
They have a tea service and serve a lot of monster-sized Americanos and filter drip coffees, but espresso from Ritual Roasters beans is one of the highlights. The interior is relatively dark — the LGBT flags covering the front windows don’t help — with dark wood floors, uniquely designed furniture, plenty of café tables and chairs, plus some bar stool seating.
Using a rickety old La Marzocco Linea, they pull shots with an even, medium brown crema with some mottled texturing. The barista had the portafilter handle pop out under pressure on his first attempt at pulling a shot — talk about an ornery machine.
The shot has a subtle aroma and not as much brightness as you might expect from Ritual Coffee with the heavy Central American representation in their espresso blends. Flavorwise, it has a warming/spice flavor — but in a unique way quite different from filter drip coffee. There’s almost no finish to the cup, however. Served in a generic white ceramic demitasse.
Read the review of Wicked Grounds.
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