Pirate Cat Radio Cafe & Studio

Overall Rating: 7.200

Address: 2781 21st St.
Cross Street(s): Florida St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94110
Neighborhood: Mission
Phone: 415.341.1199
Hours: Su-Sa 7am-11pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar
Cafe Rating: 7.20
Barista: 6
Savvy: 8
Ambiance: 9
Presentation: 6
Consistency: Inconsistent
Espresso Machine: Rancilio
Coffee Rating: 7.20
Aroma: 7
Body: 7
Brightness: 7
Crema: 7
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: XL
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: De La Paz Coffee
Cup Manufacturer: ACF
Price: $2.00
Last Update: 03/26/2009
First Reviewed: 03/26/2009
Notes: Outdoor Seating

This is the kind of place that makes you proud to live in San Francisco. We knew we were in for a treat when we walked in, saw the black-and-red paint all over the space, saw the radio studio with its skull-and-crossbones banner that looks out over the caf´┐Ż, and heard them airing the Dead Kennedys and Motorhead. Operated by a station manager named Monkey (that's his legal name), this is a fiercely independent media novelty that runs on $30/month membership for those who want to operate their own radio shows. (Members also get a $0.50 discount on espresso - and can get a beer in the back.) They broadcast locally in SF at 87.9 FM - and also in L.A. and Berlin. In the past year, Monkey has really gotten into coffee - such as inspiring him to tour Portland and visit every Stumptown. Monkey has brought that back in their coffee operations here - which are a bit all over the place, and yet it somehow works. They have a modified two-group Rancilio (with two boilers and an eyebrow-raising mercury switch) and use De La Paz Coffee. The barista when we first visited was brand-new when we came in - he had just started his own radio show (Tony, a Native American playing "red blues," as it's known), and he self-consciously followed all the steps - except for pouring my "for here" shot in a paper cup. Other baristas are obviously more experienced. Even so, they pull large volume shots with a medium brown, even crema. Despite its volume, it has surprisingly decent body and is quite flavorful: an interesting, mellow herbal mix of spices. With red ACF cups and no saucer when they get "for here" right.