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Coffee & Tea

San Francisco Bay Area Oakland Starbucks

Fear and Loathing in Oakland – Starbucks has better baristas than Cole Coffee


Coffee & Tea 15

Fear and Loathing in Oakland – Starbucks has better baristas than Cole Coffee

rworange | Oct 2, 2007 06:00 PM

To say I detest Cole Coffee is an understatement.

I went prepared for attitude. Cole Coffee exceeded my wildest expectations.

For anyone at the top of their game, I’ll tolerate some nonsense.

However don’t serve me lukewarm cappuccino, an undercooked poached egg (uncooked whites – shudder), sloppy lattes (the cup was stained with coffee that had spilled over the side), lose my order, have the staff argue among themselves whether I did order … etc, etc, etc.

And most of all don’t do this BEFORE I’ve had my first cup of coffee in the morning and expect my business again. Did I mention that first cappuccino was lukewarm … ick.

The good about Cole – the prices are low and the coffee quality (if I make I myself at home) is fairly good … but not good enough for me to return.

Cappuccino: Even had this been hot it would have been disappointing. The foam was weak, there was no cap art. Points for making a dry cappuccino. Points off for making it badly.

Latte: Nice thick brown foam, but French Café on Shattuck across from Chez Panisse makes a better latte.

Poached egg and toast: Service issues aside, good but not the best in the area. Café Fanny and Gorilla Café do a better job. They don’t really pay attention to the eggs and mine came out with some runny uncooked white. Nice piece of toasted sourdough with a little ok jam and a pat of Challenge butter. $2.50 for 1 egg, $4.95 for 2 eggs, $2.25 for toast and jam only.

Vegan organic donut: Best thing I had there. Not just good for a vegan sweet, good donut period. It was a moist cake donut that had a light dusting of coconut. According to the Peoples donut website, I can get them lots of other places

Thanks to Chuckles the Clone for that link and the tip that Coles will take off 30 cents if you bring your own cup.

Coles has a lot of fair trade and organic coffee that can be ordered by a filter drip or press pot infusion

Other breakfast items are Strauss Dairy Organic Yogurt and granola cups ($3.99), breakfast pastries from La Farine, cookies, biscotti, muffins, brownies and coffee cake.

For lunch they have three sandwiches
- Diestel farms oven-roasted turkey and Swiss cheese on La Farine rustic bread ($5.50)
- Fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato sandwich on sourdough ($4.75)
- Peanut butter and jelly ($3.95)

Sandwiches are served starting 11 am. Eggs are served till 1pm weekdays and 2 pm weekends.

They also serve tea ($1.50 cup, $2.25 small pot, $3.50 large pot), espresso drinks, Orange juice ($1.50 sm, $2.25 large), hot cocoa ($1.50 sm, $1.75 med, $2 large), Milk (.85 sm, $1 med, $1.25 lg) chai, iced coffee, iced tea and bottled water.

Part of the reason for putting the prices is that it would take a lot for me to have such an active dislike for a place with reasonable prices that seems to care about the quality of the product it sells.

However, it needs to care about its customers too. For me personally I’d rather pay a buck more at a place like the nearby Lulu Rae, Mokka or Pizzaolio where I can get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate made by skilled baristas, in a relaxing café with a staff that cares you are there.

I did get a cup of Ethiopian Harrar which was strong with lots of flavor and thankfully hot. However, I still like Graffeo’s dark roast better.

I walked into the separate coffee shop next door prepared to bring some beans home and was met with the same indifferent staff attitude and just had enough and walked out. If you buy a pound of beans, you get a free cup of coffee which is brewed in the coffee shop rather than the café.

If I was 15 I might be more amused by Cole Coffee.

I went at 10 am thinking I’d miss the morning work crowd and the lunch crowd … nope most of the tables and couches were filled with computer pounding hipsters, parents with kids strollers and dogs. There are four tables, one couch and two chairs inside and a number of tables and benches outside. It is not a quiet place … another minus before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.

Customers didn’t bother me … but that staff … yuck. The drill is
- wait in line. A few orders get taken and then the rest of the line ceases to exist for the staff until they start those orders … not complete … start
- place order and wait and wait and guess if the cup that was just made belongs to you. The staff gets pissy if you guess wrong.

I was ok with this until they lost my order for the eggs. In fear and trepidation I asked how my eggs were doing since people after me were getting orders of toast and eggs.

That’s when a little argument broke among the staff about whether I ordered the egg. One woman kept insisting that I didn’t order eggs because I didn’t have a number while another pointed to the hand written order. “Do you have a number” she asked accusingly … three times. Let’s see, the staff screws up by not giving me a number that I’m supposed to mysteriously know I need to have.

It was the third time this woman shrilled at me … before I had yet had a decent cup of coffee … that I lost it … I had been in line a second time for over 15 minutes to check on the eggs and get another cup of coffee … after sitting outside about 20 minutes nursing a lukewarm cappuccino.

I skipped over verbally getting angry and went right to my silent, deadly homicidal face with the maniacal gleam in my eye. One … and only one … of the staff picked up on it and placed my order. “Do I need a number? I asked with teeth clenched trying to keep my cool. “Yes”, she said finally pushing the coveted number at me.

The nice touch was they made me wait for my order while they served the same damned egg to people who came in long after me. They put me at the end of the order queue. Then they served me the half-cooked egg.

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