July 2016

Monthly Archive

Trip Report: Sightglass (SFMOMA)

Posted by on 16 Jul 2016 | Filed under: Café Society, Local Brew, Machine

This Sightglass location was announced in 2015, in the middle of SFMOMA’s three-year hiatus while being expanded into the largest modern art museum in America.

It opened with the museum in May 2016, inhabiting a modern, open air space among photography and interactive exhibits on the third floor. The space employs blonde wood and a sleek, minimalist design and is surrounded by modern sofas, small café tables, and video art installations.

Approaching the service counter at SFMOMA's Sightglass Service bay, roasted Sightglass coffee, and a Kees van der Westen Spirit machine

Stairwell to SFMOMA's 6th floorThis is the new coffee stop in the expanded museum. Cafe 5 on the fifth floor is where the former Blue Bottle Coffee at the Rooftop Garden used to be (with its three-group, manual Kees van der Westen Mirage Idrocompresso Triplette espresso machine relocating to the Outer Sunset‘s Andytown Coffee Roasters during the hiatus). Cafe 5 now serves illy coffee, and they’ve added two more floors to what was once the museum rooftop.

This was the third incarnation of SFMOMA I’ve visited — the first being at the cramped and dated War Memorial on Van Ness, where the collections were more heavily weighted towards interactive and video arts. Some of these installations have returned on the 7th floor of the new building.

Despite my inability to relate to much of the new Fisher Collection on the 5th and 6th floors, overall the new museum is quite impressive — including the extensive outdoor space. Of the new things on exhibit there, I was perhaps most drawn in by Wayne Thiebaud’s Canyon Mountains, excerpts from Jim Goldberg’s poignant Rich and Poor photography/essay series, and the gravity-bending Sequence from Outer Sunset mega-sculptor Richard Serra. Nina Katchadourian’s Under Pressure was also rather comical, but you need to put on the headphones.

Café seating among art installations at the SFMOMA Sightglass Café seating and video installations at the SFMOMA Sightglass

A line forms away from the Sightglass service counter to allow pedestrians to pass through, and behind the counter there are dueling two-group Kees van der Westen Spirit machines and bags and bags of Sightglass coffee. For retail sale they also sell their roasted coffee, over-packaged and in a reduced-size (8-oz).

Other than some pastries, it’s largely about the coffee service here. They pull shots with a complex medium-brown mottled crema of lighter thickness. It has the flavor of mild spices, some acidic brightness of lemon peel, wood, and some limited cherry fruit but yet it’s not the stereotypical Sightglass brightness bomb you’d expect. Served two-sips short in logo porcelain cups with a glass of sparkling water on the side.

About as serious an espresso shot as you will find in an American art museum.

Read the review of Sightglass at SFMOMA.

Café seating outside the service area of SFMOMA's Sightglass The SFMOMA Sightglass espresso