This cafe is next to my work place. I pass by on a daily basis, and I usually don’t stop. I’ve had an occasional cup of joe, and today since I neglected to get my shot of espresso from Blue Bottle, and also neglected to get enough of the freshest espresso from Moschetti, I figured I’d get a shot of espresso from The Coffee and Tea Leaf.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf - San Francisco

A “small” shot is $1.75 and a “large” shot is $2.25. I decided to see what they could do with a “small” shot. As is my usual habit, I planted myself in a place where I could watch the barista do her thing. She loaded up the portafilter with a mound of already ground coffee from the grinder’s doser. Then she didn’t bother to tamp the coffee and just stuffed the portafilter into the Cimbali Espresso Machine. A paper cup was placed on one side of the dual spout portafilter and a shot glass was placed on the other side. The shot was poured and it was all of a 5 second shot. The paper cup was handed to me, and the shot glass was unceremoniously dumped.

I opened the lid of the cup and stared at a watery bit of espresso that had almost zero crema. I took a whiff and the espresso had little aroma, and the taste was bitter, and little coffee flavor. There was zero body to the espresso and no-silky texture. One sip and I threw away the cup with the remaining espresso. It was a crappy experience and I’ll not buy another cup of coffee or espresso.

The curious thing to me is that there’s always a crowd there, and I see folks who are regulars, and I wonder why.

Don’t bother getting a shot of espresso from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. They have no interest in quality coffee. It is obviously not fresh, since there is no crema, and I don’t think the baristas are up to the challenge of pulling a decent shot.

On an espresso rating scale of 1-5, they get a 1. Poor taste, poor execution.

I recommend that the owners, managers, and employees of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf cafe march down the street to Blue Bottle on Mint Street and experience what a good shot of espresso looks like, and tastes like. Then march right back to your cafe and practice until you can pull a good shot of espresso.