Four Barrel Coffee

Overall Rating: 8.450


Address: 375 Valencia St.
Cross Street(s): 15th St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94103
Neighborhood: Mission
Phone: 415.252.0800
Hours: M-Su 7am-8pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar
Cafe Rating: 8.50
Barista: 9
Savvy: 9
Ambiance: 8
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Inconsistent
Espresso Machine: Espressonistic Works B.V.
Coffee Rating: 8.40
Aroma: 8
Body: 8
Brightness: 9
Crema: 9
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Four Barrel Coffee
Cup Manufacturer: U.S. Ceramic
Price: $2.50
Last Update: 07/01/2014
First Reviewed: 05/20/2008
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales

Review
Jeremy Tooker, co-founder of Ritual Roasters, pursued his own vision of a quality coffee business here: no Wi-Fi, no start-ups that can't pony up rent, just no-frills retail plus a roasting & distribution operation. When things first opened in Spring 2008, in a back alleyway as the main café was under construction, the coffee was great when they pulled shots of Stumptown's Hairbender beans. But their switch to their own roasting was a step down at first. Over the years, their Friendo Blendo blend went from second-rate Hairbender brightness bomb knock-off to something that has come into it's own with more balance. It's a vast wooden space with roasting operations in the back (finally clearing permits & starting in Jan '09), sidewalk window counter seating and various small tables throughout, retail beans for purchase under the mounted boars heads Jeremy bought off eBay, and a café layout that centers around a pair of three-group Mistrals and a part-time pour-over bar. Serving their own roasts (primarily Friendo Blendo), the baristas perform a lot of deliberate prep work - they take their (rightfully) sweet time to do it right here. They pull shots with a darker, mottled, occasionally bubbly looking crema. The body was thin for the pedigree but since improved. Flavorwise, the shot can balanced but has regressed to the occasional brightness bomb (acidic sourness): there's a bold pungency of spices and some herbal elements, caramel, and Hairbender-Lite-like traces of honey, nuts, and a hint of orange peel. Served in custom Atelier Dion (ADFB marked) gray ceramics from Oakland (replacing their classic brown Nuova Point & ACF cups). Milk-frothing can break down: the microfoam is adequate, but it can lack a rich texture or consistency. A rare case where local roasting operations made things worse for a few years until they got much better - to one of the (sometimes) finer shots in SF. With consumer courses, they even take credit cards now.