I patiently waited five minutes for my shot of espresso. Most days the wait is twenty or twenty five minutes, and this is usually around 7:45 in the morning, Monday through Friday. Yep, I take a Ferry into the city and I pass by Blue Bottle every morning. I’d be happy to start my day with a shot of Blue Bottle Elixir, but I have to make a living and dragging my fanny into work late because I’ve been standing in line for 25 minutes isn’t going to cut it. So most mornings I stroll by Peets around the corner and get one of their inferior shots or big cup of tasty Joe.
Blue Bottle Cafe opened their San Francisco Ferry Building Cafe a few months ago. Early on they struggled with the basics. That is, making coffee drinks in a timely manner and getting people in and out. At first they opened their side window, with three-group La Marzocco Linea early in the morning and their normal line at the Lever Mirage Triplette three-group manual machine. This was good. Two lines moved way faster than one line. Now however, they don’t open the side window until 10am. And so you have one machine, and a big line of folks. It’s easy to overwhelm a slow moving cafe.
Typically, on a Friday morning or afternoon, I like to pick up a couple pounds of fresh espresso beans for the weekend. I’ll be pulling a ton of shots and making Lattes and Cappuccinos non stop over the weekend, and I want fresh beans. Peets isn’t always so fresh. Blue Bottle is, but most Fridays they are out of beans. Totally. I mean no beans at all on the shelf. Or if there are beans on the shelf then they are not espresso roasts. I’ve suggested to the Blue Bottle folks that perhaps they could consider stocking the shelves Friday morning and taking advantage of all those folks heading home for the weekend. You can’t sell what you don’t have. Well Blue Bottle said I should order my beans online, and that way I get them fresh delivered to my door. Well at $15-$16 a pound plus another $5 or more for shipping, that’s an expensive habit.
I will say however that when I do hold out and stand in line for a shot of espresso, it is amazing. It’s as though an Angel has pissed on my tongue. The intensity, and complexity of the fragrant and floral overtones of Ethiopian and the deep rich undertones of earth and chocolate, leave me weak kneed.
Yesterday morning the line was short and I jumped into line. Looked on the shelf for espresso beans, 17 foot Ceiling or another offering, and as is usual there were none. Sigh. Placed my order and watched my lovely Barista pull five shots until she got one that was good enough for my indulgence. She reset her grinder once, and set a timer a couple times. Each pull was discarded until number five. I deeply breathed in that fragrance from the Heath Espresso Cup, and quickly filled my mouth with the 1/2 ounce of goodness. Every tooth got a coating, as well my tongue and mouth complete. I breathed in through my mouth and my nose and swished and swallowed, and was almost overwhelmed by the amazing flavor. I thanked my Barista over and over and I think I even bowed as I asked if it was ok to lick my cup.