Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Sunday Comeback

After yesterday's weather trials, the sun this morning was a welcome blessing. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was windy. But after you bundle up a little and push an espresso cart around, you warm up.

The vendors were a little worried about the lack of pre-market meanderers but things really took off once the face of the tower read 10 o'clock. Sunday is traditionally a tourist market, but we sold a surprising number of "small" drinks (i.e. macchiati and espressi). The espresso was tasting excellent and people took notice. One practicing SPF stopped by after a long hiatus and we toasted macchiatos. I started to say, "Damn, this is goo..." when he jumps in and says: "Damn, this is good." Cheers.

Also enjoyed several spoils of the Sunday market: Albacore from Trinidad, persimmons from Blossom Bluff, crepes from my friend Boushaib(sp), strawberries from VB, and two different jams from LouLou's Garden: the rhubarb-grapefruit, and also the pear-ginger which was eaten with a spoon. Mmmm good.

A friend who makes truffles whipped up some dark-chocolate/framboise/espresso truffles coated in a dusting our 100% Yemen. Damn. Though it was like pulling teeth to get her to make them, the final product was well worth the wait. If James approves, you might see these at HV.

And speaking of Yemen, James sent along this informative link for all of those interested.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Rain, Sun and Baby Seal

The morning began with a light drizzle of rain over in Oakland. It was still dark but you could see the drops momentarily revealed as the passed through the downcast rays of the streetlamp. It was cold. It was wet. It was 5 in the morning.

The refuge of the roaster, though not warm, was dry. With the machines on, you could barely hear the tapping of drops on the skylight. There was 9 lbs of Giant Steps to grind and another pound and a half of Decaf Noir. There was the New Orleans extract to decant. There was NPR.

The espresso that morning was not the best. A friend had made a Thanksgiving gift of a pound of Stumptown Organic Espresso. We had had great success with their non-organic espresso in a previous experiment, but this bag lacked that amalgamated flavor that had defined those shot. No matter, in an americano, and at that hour, beggars couldn't be choosers.

Manboy arrived, we finished loading and departed together for San Francisco. On the bridge, I recalled that I had dreamt of an having an accident in the van while driving across the bridge. And with the high winds whipping the cart around like a tail with a sail, I confessed my dreams to Manboy. In assurance, he told me that the frame of the van would protect us from any danger. God bless you Manboy.

We rolled up to an otherwise empty south side of the building. We got set up fairly quickly. James showed up and we got started with the day. Unfortunately, the only people around were other sodden market sellers and the random tenants of the wharf behind the plaza who had been rousted from their soggy domiciles by the arrival of the farmers. One such of the latter bestowed upon us, a shouted warning: "Baby Seal." The weight of these words hung like the albatross around our neck as the rain continued and our customers huddled somewhere far away in the warmth of their beds.

Then, the sun. Then, the CUSTOMERS. And they all wanted their drinks right immediately. Very few regulars means more tourists means haggard workers. This was the first time that we actually switched tasks during the shift and to take a break from the frustrations of steaming milk without any boiler pressure (or James' jovial reminders that "art is about constraints") was a relief.

In the end, we made out ok. No records broken but a success in spite of the weather.

Best question of the day in a crossword style came from Manboy:
"What is a four letter word for 'Baby Seal?'"

Best Answer came from Boyman:

Also, it was revealed that one of our once-a-weekers is actually the fellow responsible for Saute Wednesday so he has been added to the blog section.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Tuesdays: Who knew?

A rather eventful yesterday on several Blue Bottle Fronts.

James went to Hayes Valley to talk to the fire inspectors about the cart. He was successfully able to distract them from the flamethrower we installed for security reasons long enough for them to say we pass. That being said, we worried that the Health Inspection would take a while. James called it in back at the roaster and the said, "How about in a week?" Brilliant! So things are moving along at a good pace over there, we'll just have to see how it turns out.

Meanwhile, across the city, Boyman was showing up late and setting up quickly for BBC's very first Tuesday at the Ferry Plaza. We decided to take the Saturday Berkeley set up (drip bar and beans) so that we could test the waters. The response was positive and people thought our drip method delightful. Though many of our regulars stopped by for a chat and a bag, there were a lot of new faces and long conversations. In the sun and then in the shade, this market could do well for us if the word catches on. (see below for the drip bar!)

And then across the bay, Manboy was killing it at the Berkeley Tuesday market. No amount of patchouli or panflute could stop the Manboy customer service onslaught. A record day there for him as the street was packed with last minute Thanksgiving shoppers.

Also, thanks to tonx for his nice review. He also roasts on a Diedrich and has promised us a care package. Score!

In order to clear up some confusion about how we serve so much drip to people at the Farmers Markets, a picture by Caitlin. Slow, involved, but oh-so good.

And also, here's the beans out for sale at the Tuesday Ferry Plaza market, our first service at that particular market.

Monday, November 22, 2004

In Preparation

For all you followers of the on-goings of the BBC, tomorrow will be a very big day. Manboy will be serving delicious espresso drinks at the Berkeley Farmers Market, but across the water, in that fair city of San Francisco, Boyman will be serving delicious fresh dripped coffee for the Tuesday Market at the Ferry Plaza.

Now I know what you're thinking, but don't worry, you have plenty of time to hit both markets easily as the SF market goes from 10-2pm and the Berkeley Market begins at 2 and goes till 7. Righteous.

And for those of you waiting with baited breath, the Hayes Valley update is this: James will be meeting with the inspectors from the fire department tomorrow. Once SFFD has decided that Manboy's BurningMan antics won't harm the public, the ball gets sent over to the Health Department. And who knows how quickly they operate.

Speaking of Hayes Valley, here are some photos from the trial run last week:

"Mmm. (slurp) This is pretty good."

"How do you make these taste so good? Is it because of that super sweet PID controller that is blocking your head?"

"All I have to do is hang out and drink espresso. Good thing I have so many minions to do my bidding."

All of these photos were taken by Masha. These will undoubtedly be the ones that they use one the covers of "Blue Bottle Coffee: The Early Years" which of course is artistically rendered in these photos by the accidental fuzziness. James likes to use the word "diaphanous."

Oh, and via the comments, I added tonx in anticipation of their examination.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

To end all Saturdays

Wow, after a week that was spent high on possibility and promise, to go even higher with a record Saturday market seriously rules. With the departure of Kat, BBC tried out the our New Saturday Startup Style where minions Manboy and Boyman haul everything over to the city to make way for the arrival of our roaster on the Red Carpet. You may kiss the rings. Not that boss-face got to enjoy all the glory as one particular, particular customer almost suffered a crushing blow to his sunhat for insulting Boss' tamping.

The conversation went something like this:

James: Boyman, it's a SPF espresso!

Boyman: Better make this one good!

James: Here you are sir. It came out a little fast so tell me if you would like another.

SPF: There's no crema, (editors note: LIE!) maybe you should tamp harder.

James: Oh Yeah!? Tamp this!


Since there will undoubtedly been a correction demanded upon reading this entry, let me just say that this adaptation is an artistic representation of the events and should be no means be taken as a serious example of the customer service aspects of BBC. Needless to say, a second shot was poured and after enough attention was paid to this particular, particulars plan to soup-up some espresso machine, we were all able to move on. That is except every time we mentioned the event, James would spout a particular, particular phrase that shouldn't be allowed on our family oriented site.

Speaking of goodtime folly, Manboy had a brief BurningMan flashback and incinerated one of our rags on the stove! Oops! Kind of cool though.

Also, we met Andy from Ecco Caffe up in Santa Rosa who promised to send along his website so that we could get some coffee from him.

And on the Berkeley side of things, a visit from the folks of Victrola Coffee & Art in Seattle. Hella cool!

Must sleep....

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Tour

For all you all who have been wondering where Blue Bottle does it's roasting, here's the quick tour.

Here's the sign at the door:

And once you are through the door look to the left...

And then to the right...

There's the roaster! Now admire our wonderful San Marco

Don't be jealous!

Thanks to Caitlin for the use of her phone.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Southbay Coffee Tour

Spent the day off touring some of the top coffee locations listed on CoffeeGeek for the Southbay region. I was on my way to Palo Alto to meet with friends so I headed south on a four stop tour.

The first stop found me at Barefoot Coffee Roasters. These folks are highly active on CG and have recently held a barista jam for the Southbay. I was surprised to find a shop with such atmosphere tucked away in a shopping center but there it was.

The first drink of the day was a dbl macc, which was served in a 5-6oz cup with a little butter cookie on the side (nice touch). Their space was inviting and comfortable and the barista seemed confident with her art. With the Probat on in the back, I was reminded of Zoka Coffee and Tea in Seattle where the roasting was an intimate part of the cafe experience.

Feeling enthusiastic, I charged down Stevens Creek Blvd to the next cafe on my list, Coffee Society. Located in The Oaks mall this similarly tucked away shop was almost all glass on the exterior so you could see people milling about drinking coffee inside.

I had one of those slightly awkward ordering experiences where the guy immediately behind the counter was obviously new ("what size espresso would you like") but we've all been there. My single shot was served in a demi-tasse at about 3 oz.

Next stop was difficult to find. I had a little map but the address was somewhat difficult as the numbers above the adjacent buildings were out of sequence. However my search was rewarded by the two guys at Global Blends (who apparently don't have a website). I first ordered a single shot which was served at about an ounce and a half in the little brown demi-tasse. The darkness and thickness of the crema was so enticing but the cup was so hot! Someone should have been filming my pained attempts to get at the shot over the scalding rim of the cup. Their space is spartan but nice. The next customers in line ordered some gigantic plastic cupped sugar bombs, so I waited to order a dbl macc, this time asking that my lips be spared. Laughs all around. These guys offer several espressos, I'm assuming at different times throughout the day, and I got a half pound of their current selection Espresso Abruzzo from The Supreme Bean.

Last stop for the night was in Palo Alto, home of Coupa Cafe. I was told earlier that this shop deals exclusively in Venezuelan beans, but I was very excited to see several grinders lined up next to their machine.

The first shot was of what I believe was called the Coupa blend? (Right most grinder) and my 3 oz single was promisingly different. After dinner, I went back to sample not only more coffee, but also some excellent chocolate bon-bons from the Chuao Chocolatier in San Diego, Ca. Who use only, you guessed it, Venezuelan chocolate. This extravagance was paired with a double shot of the Azatlita estate bean (I think the second from the left) which was served very long. About 5-6oz. Neat to see a place so focused on a single origin, and the atmosphere was pleasant and comfortable. I can also highly recommend the chocolates. Between three of us, we polished off an entire box. They're small, really.

A whirlwind tour of shots and sugar and I can't wait to go back.

Oh, and bccy took a turn with the Giant!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

So much happens

Wow, get away from the computer for a couple of days look what happens.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Today marked the end of an era as our sweet coworker and friend Kat slammed through her last day as the BBC Ferry Plaza Drip Coffee Queen. In a flurry of sparkles and twangy idioms, Kat celebrated her big finale by actually drinking some coffee! It was espresso after espresso followed by some cake and champagne! That's the Blue Bottle way.

Another highlight was the steak sandwich from our friends at the Marin Sun Farms. Everything these folks dish up is mighty fine. BBC has been personally responsible for testing some of their meat products and after considerable research back at the roaster, we approve.

And here's so pictures from the Saturday before taken by our enthusiastic pal "Two-Shot" David.

Surveying the field

Giant Boyman eating Kari's head

Trying to copy Boyman's style with mysterious facial hair

And then...
Sunday, November 14, 2004

After last week, BBC needed to redeem itself in the eyes of unsuspecting tourists. With no whole beans and no pickle support, the day was long and required of us many mochas. Happy tourists, sad Baristo.

All of that was fixed later however by the ingestion of 2lbs of Grass-fed Sirloin.
Oh, and bccy went to town on the Roman Espresso.

And then...
Monday, November 15, 2004
Monday is like Monday minus one. Construction at both Bake Sale Betty's and Pizziaolo is seeming to make some headway. We are greatly looking forward to the day when we don't have to rely on Carnitas plate for lunch.

But also, we have a new machine in our space that is awaiting retrofit. Though it looks like the control console from a U-boat, this great old La San Marco will undoubtedly make some restauranteur very happy. Now we only have to get it working.

And bccy just can't say enough about the Temescal

Long hours and several shots of 3-Africans later, we got the good news that....

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

With several blends in hand and a whole lot of nervous energy, the BBCC packed into the car and raced to gather supplies at Sweet Maria's across the bridge to our secret hideaway in Linden Alley.

Bugs were worked out, power was supplied, and next thing you know, were pouring shots. And as if some magical horn had been sounded, long time customer "low-fat and usually no-foam everywhere else but here" Masha showed up with some friends from the office to pledge here allegiance to BBC. And then the Gibraltars started flowing.

There will be more about this historic event when we get the pictures.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Adventures of Manboy and Boyman

Friday, for the most part, is like Monday here at the BBCC, so everyone arrives fresh from a couple of days rest to set upon the roaster with an appetite for change. That being said, the early part of this morning's shift was dedicated to the rearranging of our storage space. What a fruitful task indeed as all the strapping lads got involved in solving our space crisis. To celebrate, we ate roasted chicken from one of the Ferry Plaza greats, Mistral Rotisserie Provencale.

We also had a visit from Jody (sp?) from Swiss Water who gave us some excellent literature to go along with our Decaf Noir.

And good news team, if all goes well, BBC will be pouring some experimental shots in our coming-soon-to-Hayes-Valley location next Tuesday! Keep your fingers crossed!

Manboy and Boyman (l-r)

P.S.! You go away for a couple of days and someone just has to start writing about your coffee! And I thought James was wordy! Thanks to bccy for their interest and estimations.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Danger! Danger! And Pickles!

Got to the Ferry Plaza today and began the routine setup. Thought everything was fine until our espresso machine started spouting water like a sprinkler! Oh no! After a few futile attempts at a fix, we bailed. But not before picking up a jar of pickles from our friend at LouLou's Garden. A pucker-fest to die for and one of the best things at that market hands down.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Why my feet hurt

Hey ya'll. BBC rocked yet another Ferry Plaza Farmers Market today serving boatloads of express and coffee drinks off of our rather meager set up. Regardless, the lines started early and pushed on until close.

Drink request of the day: The Reverse Cappuccino, which for all of you who don't know, is how they serve them in Europe. Otherwise known as "Euro-style." Unfortunately we don't have a picture for this "classy" drink looked, in one man's words, like the surface of Mars. Santé!

BBC Logo

Friday, November 05, 2004

Yet another Friday down at the Roaster

Well team, it was a Friday like no other. Our Friends from Miette stopped by with pastries and such. I was especially loving the crunch-style biscotti. After a few shots and discussions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers scenarios, the day continues with cleaning, bagging, and trips to some great sellers of our coffee products.

First on the list was our friends at Clif Bar who totally groove on our Roman Espresso in their single group La Pavoni.

Next on the list is a very excellent little ice creamery on 4th Street in Berkeley called Sketch. Folks down there use our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe in French Presses and in their Yirg Granita.

Right across the way is Tacubaya
who serve their own house and espresso blends in all the right ways. Not only do they drip fresh to order, but they also rock a single group Salvatore. So good!

Yikes! And you get a spanking! Posted by Hello

Now that is what I call a large Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Friends, foodies, Gods

Is it about coffee, or is it about press? Posted by Hello

Hey! There's Kat! Posted by Hello

If I had a placeholder, I'd type it in New Roman

If I had a placeholder, I'd type it in New Roman!

I'd type it in Arial!

In Verdana!

I'd type it in Courier!

I'd type it in Gee-orrr-gia!

I'd type it in Web-Dings, but then you couldn't really read it,
All over this Blah-ah-ah-ag!