Machine Coffee & Deli fits into the category of tiny, good, and in the heart of the evolving Mid Market. There’s no doubt some of its neighbors, brick-and-mortar and street-residents, have changed since my visit last year. The location alone is enough to write an essay, yet, as I attempt to focus on those in this town who are attempting to keep the coffee-shop scene local and independent (ie. can you buy a share of Blue Bottle stock on NYSE? No. I’ll continue.), I recognize yes, it’s in the thick-of-it. I’ve been close to business owners, not attached to tech, in and around the TL/Mid-Market neighborhood and give them my appreciation for their presence, and, obviously, some blog time. They’re brave as hell to come to work everyday and I’m guilty as charged for loving a good cup of coffee. Which is why to go. Maybe a sammich? It wasn’t one of those days I let myself cross the carb-line but I certainly would there someday.
Please excuse regularly scheduled programing for some pseudo-soap-box themed dialog.
Not news: Coffee, and the foodie movement overall, isn’t new anymore. Artisan, third-wave, yada yada, yeah – it’s happened. But it’s not going away either.
I’ll admit my little coffee – food – thought blog here has gone through some serious doubts. Really? I’m still doing this? Dear, God, Why?! There are so many reasons not to:
it’s boring: please see intro. paragraph. Fancy coffee isn’t wow-worthy like it once was.
it supports a perspective that’s easy to hate: as this City, and world, become more and more economically divided, it’s becoming more and more difficult to enjoy anything except breathing without shouldering guilt no matter what’s in your bank account.
I shouldn’t be eating cookies: seriously. I have a problem.
I need to be doing other things: like burning the calories from my cookie. And making the world a better place. And doing my taxes.
Right. So. Uhm. Why again? My navel-gazing insight into why I still care while attempting to be conscientious.
Fancy coffee is still happening: when was the last time you heard a cafe closing due to not making their bottom-line work? It’s rare. I can think of one in the last five years I’ve been here (Brown Owl Coffee) and some of them are behind the new spot in the Castro (Hearth Coffee). The business makes sense because, I hate to say it, it works. Fancy coffee works here and just about everywhere else in America. You don’t need an i.d., you don’t need to get drunk, you don’t need to know anyone, you need $4 to sit down and chillax outside of your office – home – and often taxing life. Who can argue that? Which is what brings me to The Mill.
You go there to have $4 toast with homemade jam spread to its borders. And a hot cup of Four Barrel coffee. And enjoy it.
You can’t totally appreciate Coffee Cultures without giving credit to Counter Culture Coffee. The Durham, North Carolina based coffee company made a big mark on the coffee community years ago just as single-origin/sustainability was really taking shape. Their coffee is superb and difficult, if not impossible to get behind a counter — all the more reason to get to Coffee Cultures. They’re only open Monday-Friday in the FiDi so it took me a bit to check them out. It’s a lovely little shop (and, hi, they have Straus soft serve ice cream? Random, yet awesome).
Libby Jane is adorable, well thought through and a great addition to the ever-changing TL. There’s Brenda’s, with the swollen brunch wait times so why not open a smaller, faster version of the beloved Southern bistro next door? So that’s what they did. Libby Jane does the biscuits, a few soups-sandwiches-salads paired with either Ritual Coffee, Community Coffee, or Mighty Leaf Tea. Great job, good call and I’m a fan.
Cafe Sophie, for a long time, was one of the lone really good cafe/coffee shops in the Castro. I can say that since the Castro is pretty tiny and until the addition of Reveille, the non-chain coffee was low brow. These guys have Verve, an excellent roaster from Santa Cruz who doesn’t have a ton of accounts up here. I love it. The baked snacks are delicious and well made. Yelpers have all these photos of gourmet sammiches too – something I hadn’t known was an option. Check it out; snag a table if there is one open (crowded every time I’ve been) or enjoy the sidewalk cuteness.
Flour & Co. is, um, awesome. They have house-made gluten-free English muffins and Stumptown Coffee, I mean really, do I need anything else? Ok, fine, cookies sure. They’re super nice, the place is adorable and the other lunch items are equally attractive. Honestly slightly relieved this is located across town or else I’d live there. And last time I checked it wasn’t the best idea to live on chocolate chip cookies alone.
Local Mission Eatery does a lot. Part cafe, part coffee shop, part fine(ish) dining – and everything on all the menus is, yep, you guessed it, with some local flare. The entire package offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch but I’m just going to make most of my noise about the back counter, aka, Knead Patisserie.
The little back counter is the outlet for Four Barrel coffee (no espresso) and a fabulous line up of baked things. You have to deal with that part prior to ordering anything else from Local Mission Eatery proper. I’ve no idea why they set it up this way and find it kind of odd, but the fact is if you want a delightful breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner on 24th St. in the Mission, here’s your spot.
Haus Coffee is a pretty perfect coffee shop. The hours are good (open early and late), the space is minimal, you can usually get a seat, the snacks are above average and the coffee is superb. It’s De La Paz and they have it on French Press, which is pretty tough to find in this town.
The Yelpers mention they have some grumpy people working there, which, meh, usually doesn’t bug me too much but when there’s Philz across the street and the people there shine rainbows ten ways, it can be, well, nice to have an interaction with someone that you know can at least deal with hating their job/life, which is the vibe I’ve gotten a few times. And. Then. Of course it’s the common lap top problem. They’re there which can be a blessing or a curse.