The Bakery Cafe by Illy

Overall Rating: 6.750

Address: 2555 Main St.
Cross Street(s): In the CIA Greystone
City, State ZIP: St. Helena, CA 94574
Phone: 707.967.2320
Hours: Su-Sa 10:30am-6pm
Type of Establishment: Cafe
Cafe Rating: 6.50
Barista: 6
Savvy: 6
Ambiance: 6
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Very inconsistent
Espresso Machine: La Cimbali
Coffee Rating: 7.00
Aroma: 7
Body: 7
Brightness: 7
Crema: 7
Flavor: 7
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Warming
Coffee Beans: Illy
Cup Manufacturer: IPA
Price: $2.00
Last Update: 11/02/2014
First Reviewed: 11/01/2014
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales

This bakery/café opened in 2012 as an outlet for where students of the celebrated Culinary Institute of America could serve lunch,
baked goods, and café fare to the general public. Located in a beautiful campus built in the 1880s as a co-operative winery, it was purchased by the CIA in 1993 for use as their West Coast campus. With heavy Illy branding near the De Baun Theater, it's also next to a CIA counter behind glass walls that serves wine, charcuterie, and chocolate confections. They offer baked bread and cookies, sandwiches, soups, salads, side dishes (good French fries, btw), wines by the glass. There are multiple indoor tables and chairs with table service (and ordering at the counter) and colorful hanging lights. Using a two-group La Cimbali XP1 chrome beauty behind the counter, fed by the big Illy can-o-beans, the same students pulled shots that varied wildly in the two times we visited over a weekend course here. With their service model carrying drinks to your table when they are ready, this clearly contributes to a lot of the variance. On Saturday it had no crema beyond a tinge of cloudiness on the surface of what seemed like drip coffee crossed with a weak hot chocolate. It had a flat flavor with little brightness, a surprisingly decent body, but little to excite beyond that: a stale-seeming shot with no Illy woodiness, etc.: a shot that scored well on some properties but completely failed on others. Then on Sunday the shot came with a darkly speckled brown crema, a solid aroma, and a warming flavor of mild spices and wood in balance that you come to expect of Illy. Nothing at the quality level of their European cafés (it's always a much better product there for some reason), but an all-around shot of decent quality. So it's very hard to tell you what you will get here, other than an erratic performance by students and a seeming lack of quality control intervening. Other than it's served in Illy logo IPA cups.