Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Caffe Trieste

Location: 609 Vallejo St., San Francisco

Reviewed: December 16, 2006

Espresso: My single was served as a 1.5oz. lungo in a wide-brimmed cup with matching saucer. The crema was light-to-medium brown and even in color. It was suprisingly full-bodied for a lungo; the primary tastes were smoky and some fruity notes.

Atmosphere: Trieste is the original espresso bar on the west coast, having been located in North Beach since 1956. The shop is small with seating around most of the perimeter, next to the glassed-in walls. Very long lines on weekends.

Verdict: Once a legend, now mostly a historical novelty.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lime Tree Espresso

Location: 171 Branham Ln., San Jose

Reviewed: December 10, 2006

Espresso: Lime Tree serves Barefoot's Sweetness blend in doubles and triples only. Oddly, each is served at around 3oz. in volume; thus, the doubles are lungo pours, and the triples are standard. They use a Swift grinder, and so each shot is ground & tamped to order. My triple had an even medium-brown crema of decent thickness. It had predominate tones of berry and some bitter/dark chocolate in the aftertaste. Somehow, a certain mouthfeel was lacking, and I'm less than certain why. Still a good espresso.

Atmosphere: Lime Tree is in the spot of the former Cool Beans Coffee. Not much has changed inside. It remains a cool location that is more coffee lounge than coffeeshop. I still like it a lot.

Verdict: Good, although not great. Stick with the triples.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Pacifico Primo Coffee

Location: 1683 Branham Ln., San Jose

Reviewed: December 6, 2006

I previously reviewed this place a year ago under the moniker "St. James Coffee". Since, they have undergone an ownership change.

Espresso: The place is now a wholesale customer of Barefoot and were serving Element 114 this morning. My request for a single turned up a shot of a little over 1oz. with an even, medium-brown crema. It was somewhat sour. Almost more important than the taste, though, is that the two employees there were seriously attempting to do things right. My shot was ground individually, the cup was preheated, and the barista spent some time on a very solid tamp. When I mentioned the sourness, the barista apologized and offered me a replacement (I declined because of the ratio of caffeine to food that I'd consumed).

Atmosphere: Not much has changed in the past year: the roaster is gone, and there is now a small collection of hot sauce sitting near the register (this is evidently for the empanadas).

Verdict: Despite the flaws, I'm optimistic about their improving.