Overall Rating: 8.100

Address: 429 S. California Ave.
Cross Street(s): Ash St.
City, State ZIP: Palo Alto, CA 94306
Phone: 650.325.2048
Hours: M-F 11am-6pm; Sa 12pm-5pm
Type of Establishment: Other
Cafe Rating: 7.80
Barista: 9
Savvy: 9
Ambiance: 6
Presentation: 7
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco
Coffee Rating: 8.40
Aroma: 9
Body: 8
Brightness: 8
Crema: 9
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Moksha Coffee Roasting
Cup Manufacturer: Bodum AG
Price: $2.00
Last Update: 05/17/2012
First Reviewed: 01/14/2009
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales

You have got to be kidding me. A runner's supply store with outstanding espresso - perhaps the best in town? You bet. This place ran as an online-only store for several years before opening this physical location in the old Fine Arts theater in the Fall of 2008. Walk past the aisles of Lycra, and in the back by the running shoes you'll find a small espresso bar run by serious enthusiasts. They use beans from Moksha Coffee Roasters, who roasts for them about four times per week. The barista here is very deliberate. We ordered the first shot of the day, and he took his time working out several shots just to make sure he got it right. Using a two-group La Marzocco GB/3 ( replacing their two-group Rancilio HX machine), and employing the "Weiss Distribution Technique" (stirring grounds with a stick inside a hollowed out yogurt cup to ensure evenness of extraction), they pull careful espresso shots with a highly textured, mottled medium and dark brown crema. The crema is rather full and thick and makes a shot that's a true emulsion between liquid and solids. It has a potent aroma, a firm-but-not-heavy body, and a robust flavor of cloves and herbal pungency with some tobacco notes. There isn't much sweetness in the shot, but it's done so well you don't miss it much. Served in a double-wall, Bodum Pavina shotglass with an aperitif glass of sparkling water on the side. Great stuff. Thin milk frothing, but the micro-bubbles and latte art aren't bad. Milk-based drinks served in saucerless Vertex cups. They boast signs for "the best latte in Palo Alto", which wouldn't be by much. With a perfectionist at the bar, even a modest line can create major waits.