Cafe Bello

Overall Rating: 8.050


Address: 2885 Diamond St.
Cross Street(s): Bosworth St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94131
Neighborhood: Glen Park
Phone: 415.585.3457
Hours: M-F 6am-8pm; Sa 7:30am-7pm; Su 8am-6pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar
Cafe Rating: 8.00
Barista: 8
Savvy: 9
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: Rancilio
Coffee Rating: 8.10
Aroma: 7
Body: 8
Brightness: 8
Crema: 8
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 1.5
Size: L
Primary Taste: Turpeny
Coffee Beans: Cafe Bello
Cup Manufacturer: Nuova Point
Price: $1.95
Last Update: 05/08/2013
First Reviewed: 03/17/2004
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales; Outdoor Seating

Review
Quiet coffee artisan café near the Glen Park BART replaced the former Cafe ? (which closed due to rising rent). Several indoor tables, window counter seating among several stools, and an outdoor sidewalk bench. Vacuum pot ($120) and vacuum-brewed coffee ($3.50 for a monster mug as of '07) sales, so you know they aren't pretenders - though they now only serve it "off the menu" due to the process/spectacle/time required. With their two-group Mr. Espresso Rancilio Epoca, they often produce a solid crema - a dark brown, patterned emulsion that hangs on top and clings to the sides of the Nuova Point cups (now some Syracuse also). Co-owner, Josh Li (along with his wife, Jane), swore by Mr. Espresso for the best crema, but in 2006 he set up their own 1-lb batch airflow roaster (from Monster Coffee) in the back for daily on-site roasting. (Locals buy up his beans, with good reason: they proudly date the roasts.) Filled to the rim, but a true doppio rather than an overextracted single. Once way too large, by 2009 their doppios were also excellent. The flavor is rather rich and pungent, with an edge of cloves. For some, it can be a bit harsh and bitter without accompanying milk - it's designed for milk. But there can be a mellow mixture of additional flavors: slightly sweet of vanilla, a hint of cardamom, and even some turpeny elements. Serving temperature can run a bit too hot (a little like the place itself), adding a burnt nature to the flavor at times. Some of the other baristas (particularly the rookies) can pull espressos with sketchier crema with larger bubbles suspended in it, yet others still are among SF's best. Even on its worst days, it's still excellent for milk-based drinks. This is where they best shine: the milk is even, consistent, and rich. (This is reflected in their cupper's correction score.) Josh and his crew aren't half bad at latte art either. "For here" avoids paper cups on only some beverage sizes (i.e., no caps larger than small).