I was a little early for lunch at Ester’s Orbit Room.
So I drove around the neighborhood to see if there was anything interesting and found Revolution Café.
There’s currently no sign, just a sandwich board with a red stop sign that says “Stop for coffee”.
This article is really spot on about the three-month old coffee-roasting company and café ...
“The place is definitely family-friendly, with tables and chairs, a couple of counters, an overstuffed sofa, coffee table and old upright piano in a homey room adjacent to the cafe.
Jazz flows from speaker mounted on the wall and sun streams in the large picture windows. The decor, an odd assortment of "treasures," toy collectibles, kitsch, found artwork, old books and coffee mugs from just about every era and holiday, adorn the walls and shelves.“
I had half an hour to kill and was intrigued by the 8x11 sheet of white paper taped to the window advertising a 50 cent cup of coffee. I was expecting some generic cheap brew and my jaw kind of dropped when I found out they roasted their own. I think I must have asked about four times, “so you roast your own beans?”
The Revolution Blend actually is a strong brew similar to Blue Bottle’s Hayes Valley blend. There’s not the fussing here with brewed by the cup coffee, just roasting a nice cup of coffee. At first I wasn’t a fan of the Hayes Valley blend at Blue Bottle which reminds me of the taste of Dunkin Donuts coffee, but this kind of brew is good with a sweet dessert, the strong flavor standing up to and toning down sugar.
Even though I didn’t have a sweet dessert, the coffee was still good to the last drop, so to speak. They have about eight other roasts that are sold for $8-$9 per pound.
BART is just such a presence and demon in this neighoborhood. When the trains pass and the door is closed, the café shakes. This is not a place that will ever have outdoor sidewalk tables because the sound of the passing train is like the sound of hell amplified.
The owner is really a pleasant guy. We were standing outside and chatting and had to halt conversation when each train passed. At one point he pointed up to the tracks and said, "It even blocks some of the sun".
Inside is pleasant and with a closed door and music playing, the noise isn’t noticable.
The above article has some interesting insight to this neighborhood that is trying to revive after BART, the Post Office and redevelopment pretty much destroyed a historic jazz district.
Driving around there are still pretty Victorian houses in genteel neglect. The only full-time restaurant in the neighborhood is Canton City (1698 7th) a generic sweet-and-sour pork, egg-foo-yung, chow-mein type of steam-table place with $3.50 lunch plates (choice of two items).
Around the corner from Revolution is an interesting small café/market that was closed for Thanksgiving week. The exterior is brightly painted with flowers and I lost the piece of paper where I jotted the name ... oh, it is also a thrift shop and as the sign said “& more” Googling 8th Street didn’t turn up anything with any of those words. It is across the street from one of the two liquor/grocery stores in the area.
At the end of 8th Street someone set up what looked like a farmer’ market stand and turned out to be selling coffee. While the people looked ok, it was in such a secluded edge-of-the world location I didn’t stop and check it out. Up the street was the Black-Spot Café, which turned out to be a mural painted on scrap metal sheets fencing a vacant lot.
A new Subway sandwich shop opened up in a new housing development that tries to imitate the Victorians that were torn down. The homes look shiny, sleak and modern but have as much character as Subway. A number of empty new stores are waiting for someone to lease them and set up shop.
Seeing the neighorhood, the location of the seasonal Mandala Farmers Market and the Gingerbread House makes more sense.
More about the Saving Seventh Street ...
“I would look at these buildings as a rough canvas ... shine it up and make it sparkle, and it makes you feel good and others pick up on it," she said. "You could see it was a beautiful place at one time. What happened to it was always the question."
You know, it is just possible that in a few years, there will really once again be a threre there. Let the economic revolution begin.
Revolution Café and Brewing Company
1610 7th St
Oakland, CA 94607
7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday
They just started to open on Saturday so hours and days might change. Not sure if they are open Sunday.