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Coffee & Tea 45

coffee wars

Windy | Jul 28, 200501:20 AM

I've only recently begun drinking coffee again after many years off the stuff. I'm hardly a purist: I've never liked French roast or other bitter/burnt styles, and milk and sugar make me happy.

With the coffee wars heating up around town, I decided it was time to check out the latest offerings.

Blue Bottle coffee has been available for the past year at a few spots (Ferry Plaza, Sketch), but their take out window on Linden near the Octavia boulevard marked a decided improvement in quality and access. The coffee is smooth and flavorful; the people who work there are perfectionists without accompanying attitude. I wasn't crazy about the cookies.

Ritual Roasters was a scene from the day it opened. Don't go without your laptop and square glasses. No, really. And no talking out on the back patio. One day everyone around me was ordering iced Americanos; pouring water in espresso made me wince. I had an iced latte which had practically no taste although I liked the glass it came in. Another time my cappucino was better, but not revelatory. I'm just not sold. The beans just don't have enough flavor to hold up to a little milk. Maybe this is the place to drink it black.

On the other hand, they serve amazing snacks! An exceptional (if not completely traditional) alfajore. Vegan carrot cake. Tempting scones. Anyone know where the cookies and pastries are from?

Remembering a perfect cafe con leche a few months back, I stopped in at Cafe lo Cubano. Their skill seems to have worn off with all the accolades, or maybe I just hit them on a careless afternoon. The coffee was nothing special; the milk was just milk. A spinach empanada did nothing to revive my enthusiasm.

Blue Bottle remains the winner for now.

***

While I was at Laurel Village, I stopped in at Peet's to check out the rare teas. The summer selections are in, including several Nilgiri estate teas. I tried the Silver Flame, an Indian white tea quite unlike the flowery white teas from China. Rich and aromatic, and even better at room temperature an hour later.

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