Sunday, January 30, 2005

Happy one week birthday to Hayes!

Yes-yes, the kiosk is now officially a week old. More and more people keep showing up too! So much fun and such good drinks. Oldman had a successful last couple of days and Boyman's return to the bar found him just running left in right to keep up with the flow.

People can be so good. We had one fella today, a long time coffee geek and BBC enthusiast drive all the way from San Mateo for a cappuch. What a guy.

A lot will be happening this week so stay tuned.

Oh, and if anyone by any chance has a tape or screen captures of our appearance on KRON in the morning last Saturday, that would be righteous. James plugged Hayes Valley in less than 10 Seconds.

And we have a new member of the BBCC team who we will affectionately refer to as Pilot. If you ever meet him, you'll have to ask why.

Pictures, stories, jokes about James-All Coming Soon!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Catching Up

It's been one of those weeks where all good intentions to keep everyone updated have been thwarted by things like work and sleep.

But it is best to start as close to the beginning as possible so...

The kiosk has seen a fairly good business throughout the week. Many people have stopped by on a whim, either hearing of us through word of mouth or seeing the sign on the corner. There has also been several people who either live or work in Hayes Valley who have discovered us. That has been a lot of fun because it seems most of the folk around there are into what they do so the general feeling is one of encouragement.

None more so than the girls and guy of Dark Garden (PG-18!). After a week or so, most of their names (and drinks) have been committed to memory. Though the idea of a corset shop might seem a little intimidating to the average pedestrian, the folks that work there are very friendly and engaging.

And they continue to surprise us. For instance, one customer was wondering about a particular tree that grows across the alley from us. Though none of us knew the answer, Kat, a Gardener privy to the discussion, took the question back to her coworkers. Who knew that Jacob, (who is currently constructing a corset out of sting ray hide) was an amateur botanist.

He identified the adjacent growth as a Bailey's Acacia, also known as a Golden Mimosa.



Notice the plastic bag. Gotta love living on an alley.

Jacob says that this tree is originally from Australia, where it grows like a shrub. It is one of the earliest blooming trees in San Francisco and only lives for about 25 years. He knows trees. He makes corsets.

Also on the informative tip, former National Bartista Champion ('02) and sixth best Barista in the World ('02) and Boyman's former boss ('00) Dismas Smith stopped by the kiosk while he was in town for the SF Fancy Food Show.

Boyman: "How come you never gave me that raise?"
: "Maybe because of your stupid hipster scarf!"

: "Oh."

Dismas has left his previous place of employment to join up with a new deal by the name of Hotwire Coffee and Roasting Co. He's roasting and whipping baristas into shape. He was particularly interested in developing a new drip operation. He was not so busy though that he couldn't pull some shot of our Hayes Valley blend, and then subject his own blend to scrutiny.

Dismas displays his signature "watch-shakin" style that won him accolades around the world.

Dismas has been roasting lately on a Diedrich very similar to ours but getting very different results. Par Example:

On the left, the BBCC Roman Espresso, several days old. Notice the darker color and presence of oils.
On the right, Dismas' Washed Sidamo. Lighter in color, dry and chafferific.

The shots of his stuff were smooth and then all of the sudden Holy Sh*t Spicy! Largely due to temperature adjustment (set cooler) age (not very old) and some crazy central american bean that will not be named here. He, like us, is working on it.


Thanks Dismas!

And to celebrate, Boyman and Dismas, on the recommendation of a certain bartendress/customer, ended us getting some post-work drinks at Hayes Valley's own German restaurant Suppenkuche.

No, we don't know how to pronounce it. Well, maybe Manboy does.

Anyway, following the suggestion of (H)anna, we tried a couple of finely poured German beers and enjoyed a plate of fine German wares guaranteed to make the flowers wilt the next day.

You try to take a focused picture after two big German beers. Go on, I dare ya.

Everything tasted great even the blood sausage stuff. Good thing it was dark.

Meanwhile, back in the world of coffee...

Now that the week has gone by, everyone of the HV baristos has had a crack at the alley. Boyman, Manboy and Oldman all took turns serving up drinks and wowing the public, taking impromptu interviews when available.

Q: Are we not men? A: We are Baristo



In other good news, Bittersweet made their official official opening this week to hordes of slobbering chocolate lovers. Some even tried the coffee. Our friends there are off and running with their new space all decked out.

Some of the fare:



snake flambars
Chocolate..., the yoga is across the street. Sorry.

The folks at Bittersweet are on the lookout for quality baristas who love the chocolate, so if you know anyone, send them their way.

This, the longest post ever. Sorry. Let's end it with a solemn pledge to be better about frequency.

If you made it this far, be sure to check out Larry's post about our opening. Also look to Meathenge for an excellent photo contest.

Until next time.


Monday, January 24, 2005

Day 2


Boyman got the setup set up on his first solo solo at the new Hayes Valley location. Fighting cold, lack of sleep and a 45 minute commute across the Bay, things were up and moving to a soundtrack of Benny Goodman by 7 a.m.

This was fine except that no one showed up until after 8. Damn!

But once they started coming.... Turns out a long time customer from the Berkeley side of things works at an organization in the neighborhood called VolunteerMatch. After plowing through three cups of our brew-to-order drip coffee, he passed the word on to his co-workers and the day began in earnest.

By the end, it was a toss-up between VM and Dark Garden as to who had sent over the most business.

Speaking of locals, several business cards were handed our way today from people like Todd of Hayes Valley Online. Todd is a photographer (rated PG-13) and discovered Blue Bottle while walking his dog this morning. By noon he had taken pictures and promised an update.

Then there was the "we're also new to the neighborhood" Tazi designs who had us goggling over the prospects of mosaic cafe tables.

Other onliners include a review by Trimethyldioxypurist on sfist. Excellent.

There would be more pics, however technical difficulties will tear us apart.

If you are good, there will be more on the visit today from famed National Barista Champion ('02) Dismas Smith.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Grand Opening

Officially official.

Posted hours on the door.

Our first day went off something fantastic with Boyman and James opening up the doors around 10 a.m. And immediately people were lining up to test out the new set up. This early crowd consisted of mostly Saturday Ferry Plaza regulars. 2 Cappuch Paul was there along with Latte Spike followed by 2 shot David. Leslie and her manpanion showed up for some caffeinated beverages as did Blake, Ian, Evan, Lynn and Team Viola. Blue Comet and Lady Blue Comet made and appearance as did a particular Dark Gardener who's name will be shortened to just A. to save on spelling. Even Sweet Libby and her daughter stopped by just to make Boyman's day.

Here's our first paying customer Paul , sucking down the first of his caps.

And with all the people showing up, the geeks were outed. Turns out that several of our friends from the world online were excited to add our opening to their postings. These include life begins @ thirty, and her companion flourdesign who took some killer photos which are on his site. Also there was our friend and Yemen drinker, Larry, who out-geeked everyone by posting his photos to his flickr account over his phone. Nerds. We love them.

Matt and Minette (sp?), the first M+M couple of the day, savoring the sweet surroundings that the Linden Alley has to offer.

Drinks poured nicely. This machine will take some getting used to, but the milk was beautiful and the shots came out in sweet, choco-nut thickness.

For example. I think the lens of the camera ended up in this one.

For those of you who haven't been privy to the Blue Bottle Saga over the past months, the opening of the Hayes Valley kiosk has been a long time coming. Needless to say, all of us here were very excited to get this up and running.

Cabby even got to come out. Notice how James is trying to whisk the baby away.

Downside of having a former professional musician as a boss: He's never, ever, ever had to use a cash register. Luckily James' sleep deprivation drove him to seek out food geekiness elsewhere in the city as the Fancy Food Show has been hanging out in the city all weekend.

It was great to see everyone smiling and having a good time. Even those who had never heard of the coffee were stoked. Strangers from the neighborhood would walk by looking at the kiosk like it was dropped upon them by some alien culture. We are new, we are exciting. We make the alley a less scary place.

Late in the day, the second M+M couple showed up to drive up sales and look ravishing for the camera.

Thanks to all for coming down. Check back for more updates. For now, here is some geeky shots of shots.

The new HV espresso in progress.

The result.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Yes, it has been a week, but the big news is worth the wait.

Blue Bottle Coffee Company
will be serving coffee in our new
Hayes Valley location starting
tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Which is located at 315 Linden St (alley) right next to Dark Garden (see below).

We will be serving espresso drinks and coffee drinks along with goodies from Miette Organic Patisserie. We will be open until people stop coming or until we fall over. If you cannot make it tomorrow, you can stop by any and every day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See more here, and here.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Or perhaps...

you'd rather find out what's going on with the business!

It's official. According to the flier we posted on the cart yesterday, Blue Bottle Coffee Company will officially be opening their space at 315 Linden St (alley) on January 23rd. That's a Sunday. Come down, meet the crew and drink some coffee.

Also on the official side, Bittersweet opened its doors to a limited public today so that friends and family could see what all the fuss is about. There were several bon-bons and chocolate bars for sale as well as a selection of baked goods including the well met ginger/pear/chocolate muffin. Quickly consumed it was with a spicy shot of Guatemalan pulled by the rather excited barista/partner Seneca. Lots of goodies, lots of babies. Look for the official official opening this week!

Also, for those of you who wern't there, the Ferry Plaza was booming yesterday. James, Manboy and Boyman all worked there frozen little smiles to the gums bringing the purchasing public the perfect perveyance.

Fit to split moment of the day came when the washes of smoke and rosemary and gasoline prompted one worker to guess that the offering du jour from the near by food-seller was none other than pig of the sea, which is often served as pig-of-the-sea in a blanket. The lines, they went on forever.

More later from a safe distance!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Loving levers

Pulling good shots. Really that's what this is all about. Yes training is so important and who doesn't want the coffee to taste good? Happy Customers. We like Happy Customers. But none of that matters if the shots aren't coming out right. If all the elements aren't just so, it's tongue-out and two thumbs down time.

It's frustrating.

That's why when we got into our groove on Saturday and really were humming along, everything seemed to glow. Ok, we made a big old mess and the cold weather diminished our steaming capabilities, but when the portafilter fit into the head with that satisfying clunk, wow. That's just magic.

I used to hate our Astoria. It's a two group lever action that has the tiniest of boilers but when it hits, boy does it hit. It took time, but I have learned to love the nuances of that machine. All the while I have cursed the sheer slowness of the process and how frugal you had to be with water and heat. But now, and this is especially the case with the San Marco in the roaster, I think lever machines have a purity to them that can't be matched no matter how many logic controllers you attach.

And the shots taste so good.

I think that's why this whole Hayes Valley experience has been so frustrating. We have all this nice gear and our own space, but the shots just won't hit. Every once in a while, yea, but for the most part consistency has been a challenge.

I remember when a barista friend of ours came down from the wonderful Hines Public Market to see us and try out our set-up. He pulled a shot from the Astoria, or at least tried, and then backed away with his hands up "I can't do this."

Oldman told us a story of working at a place in Berkeley some time ago that had a six-group lever machine with the register at one end and the grinder at the other. He said that job was all about running. I wonder where that machine is?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Cold, Wet, Cold again.

Three men, two tables, an EZ-up, an espresso cart and lots of rain. At least there isn't a market tomorrow.

Interesting things:
Manboy's knowledge of the German language brought a couple of new words into the Blue Bottle lexicon, only problem is, Manboy needs to spell them out before that can be added to our growing list. The best one starts with an s and has an f in it. It means laughing while others cry or something like that. It spoke mostly to our plight today as every customer was sent off with a hot beverage to enjoy whilst we froze. They laughed, we cried. Summdenflungen? Smoozfatzen? Scharffenberger?

Also, an excellent cloth bag attached to a person taught us the wonderful word Muffuletta, which has now become another pet name for James. And don't worry, he loves to hear it from anyone, not just us.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Shots and Shots

Further testing at the kiosk has yielded some interesting results. Nothing concrete yet but there are plenty of other issues to keep the BBC crew busy.

Which includes messing around with an excellent Organic Guatemalan Bella Cruz.
Enjoy with your eyes:


and then...


and finally...


And you should have tasted it.

Otherwonderfulthings, some long time enthusiasts/friends stopped into the roaster the other day for a little chat and a couple shots of the above featured Guatemala. They transplanted themselves to Brooklyn last year to attend school and live life outside of the Bay Area. He is the author of this, though the writing has dropped off to make room for schoolwork and such. She meanwhile maintains this, and is the creative force behind this. Smart, savvy, coffee drinkers.

The BBC is in the process of some experiments. From this image, guess what's happening:

Product endorsements

James is either:
a) developing the new BBCC "Gourmet White Coffee Blend"
b) demonstrating the new way to cut that "rice in just 3 minutes" time down to nothing
c) discovering the lucrative benefits of product placement
d) accidentally revealing the secrets behind what makes that Blue Bottle Coffee taste so darn good

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

And one more makes three...

It's official, the new BBC barista in training is none other that (drum, drum, drum) Oldman. Yes, yes, first there was Boyman, then there was Manboy, and now folks, Oldman. Why you might ask? Is it the grey hair? The charming way everyone has to sit on his lap? Or just the fact that this irrepressible feller has been pouring shots since before either of the other two had even tasted the sweet blessings of espresso? Who knows?

Yes. Lot of questions. No straight answers.

And now the soon-to-be-replaced, after days of slaving away perfecting drinks:

Boyman: "Here's your latte sir. Sir? See how I drew you a heart? Can I have some food now? Maybe some water? Or maybe you can take these chains from my feet?"

Manboy: "They can't fire me! I'll make my sad face and whisper sweet Germanic nothings into your ear. Remember, I'm the cute one."

It's coming along. Really.

(Scruffy pics by DaddyMack)