Illy Caffè

Overall Rating: 7.800


Address: 2055 Union St.
Cross Street(s): Btwn Buchanan & Webster Sts.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94123
Neighborhood: Cow Hollow
Phone: None
Hours: M-F 6am-9pm: Sa-Su 7am-8pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 7.80
Barista: 7
Savvy: 8
Ambiance: 8
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: La Cimbali
Coffee Rating: 7.80
Aroma: 8
Body: 7
Brightness: 7
Crema: 8
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 1.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Warming
Coffee Beans: Illy
Cup Manufacturer: IPA
Price: $2.50
Last Update: 03/30/2015
First Reviewed: 12/25/2014
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales

Review
illy caffè North America has operated Espressamente cafés here as in Europe, but this is a truer café than coffee bar and is designated as such with its different name ("illy caffè"). Unlike their Espressamente coffee bars, the food menu is a bit more involved and the service levels are just a touch higher - even if they are owned and operated by the Prima Cosa team that manages SF's other Espressamente shops. This one is at the edge of the former Metro theater, which has since been converted into an insipidly boring Equinox gym. There's an elaborate designer illy coffee cup chandelier as you walk in - not unheard of compared to other Espressamente shops, but different for the rarity of some of the limited edition art cups. (Since 1992, illy's designer cup series is technically the longest running pop art project in the world.) There's a tall table with stools, some window stool seating, central café tables, and black booth café seating around the edges. Using a chrome, three-group La Cimbali, they pull moderately-sized shots with a healthy, mottled/swirled medium and darker brown crema. The crema isn't as thick as you typically get in a European Espressamente, but it's decent. The flavor isn't exactly the typical mild spaces and wood that you get at most American outlets serving illy: there are extra notes in between in the flavor profile. So while still not up to European standards, this is one of their best attempts yet. Served in designer IPA logo cups, of course. Milk-frothing here is decent: somewhat dense, even, and with little erratic touches here and there. They also offer signature drinks, including botanicals like their vanilla jasmine or lavender lattes - if you like that sort of thing.