Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One year running

I started this blog one year ago. In that time, I've reviewed 47 shops. I'm not going to attempt any kind of rank-ordering of them, but I am listing what I consider the top tier. These are the five (there simply happen to be five) best places I've visited, and they are all worth a visit, maybe even a pilgrimage.

Listed in Alphabetical order:

Barefoot Coffee Roasters, 5237 Steven's Creek Blvd., Santa Clara

Coffee Creek, 2601 Oakdale Rd., Modesto

Pacific Bay Coffee Co., 1495 Newell Ave., Walnut Creek

Ritual Coffee Roasters, 1026 Valencia St., San Francisco

Temple Fine Coffee & Tea, 1014 10th St., Sacramento

There is also one place that I want to list as honorable mention:

Eon Cafe, 24970 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward

Eon gets an HM because although they are capable of pulling a very good shot and have their technique down right (as evidenced by my original review), they seem to have certain consistency issues (and my sour-ish shot was served to me by their best barista).

So a total of 6 shops of the 47 I've reviewed appear to actually know good espresso. That's nearly 13%, a much higher percentage than I originally expected. Of course this is not a statistically random sample, and certain other caveats also apply, etc.

I should also mention that there are two other places to which I gave positive reviews that I'm not listing here at all. One of these, Global Blends, has been defunct for some time. The other, Plantation Coffee Co., has lost their best barista (who served me the day I reviewed), and I'm no longer certain that they are capable of producing top-notch espresso.


Aimee said...

in vancouver, i like:
caffe artigiano, JJ beans, & Prado!

chris baca said...

good stuff tim...13% is not so bad given the current state of affairs. In sad related news: 3 of coffee creeks baristas (the best ones) will be gone as of the 8th. hopefully they will be able to recover

Timmy said...

I'm going to be in Modesto tomorrow, so I will give both Coffee Creek and Plantation a follow-up visit.

Timmy said...

Ended up not getting a chance to stop in.

eric said...

Wrong way to reach you probably, but I thought you'd be interested in, a non-profit project I started in August. Map of top-tier espresso on the continent, subjectively edited by me, other competition-level baristi, and industry pros.

In the Bay Area, I have Flying Goat, Pacific Bay, Blue Bottle, Ritual, Eon and Barefoot. Mostly on Andrew Barnett's recommendations (Ecco), but validated by Brent Fortune and others.

I see you also recommend Coffee Creek and Temple. In your opinion, are they the same level as Ritual and Barefoot?

Timmy said...

Hi Eric,

I would say that Temple is as good as any shop to which I have been. You can look through my archives (Dec. '05) for the full review.

As far as Coffee Creek is concerned, unfortunately I don't know what will happen after their recent staff turnovers, but watch Modesto for the opening of Wanderlust (hopefully soon).

For the record, I have been to Flying Goat and was less than impressed with the Santa Rosa location (check the archives for Feb. or March of '06). I visited their Healdsburg location before I began reviewing and was more impressed.

I've also heard good things about Centro Espresso in Santa Rosa (they use Ecco beans, or so I understand), although I haven't had an opportunity to stop in.

Infusion in Sacramento, my review immediately subsequent to this posting might be worth listing as well. They're probably as good as Eon (perhaps both shops are a little inconsistent, though).

And I still haven't managed to visit Blue Bottle. Someone needs to shoot me over that!

And you are more than welcome to use my reviews as a basis for inclusion on your map. Good luck with the project.