Contraband Coffee

Overall Rating: 7.850

Address: 1415 Larkin St.
Cross Street(s): California St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94109
Neighborhood: Nob Hill
Phone: 415.839.7388
Hours: M-Sa 7am-10pm; Su 8am-8pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar
Cafe Rating: 7.50
Barista: 8
Savvy: 8
Ambiance: 8
Presentation: 6
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: Synesso
Coffee Rating: 8.20
Aroma: 7
Body: 7
Brightness: 9
Crema: 9
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 1.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Candy-like
Coffee Beans: Contraband Coffee
Cup Manufacturer: Glass
Price: $2.50
Last Update: 06/21/2011
First Reviewed: 01/06/2011
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales; Outdoor Seating

This neighborhood coffee bar, and offsite roaster (they roast in Oakland), from Josh Magnani had been unusually hyped in the local presses for about six months before it opened. In typical SF fashion, it already had several 5-star Yelp reviews before its opening on Christmas Eve 2010. But who can blame the locals: there aren't a lot of coffee bars of equivalent quality nearby. There are a couple of sidewalk tables in front. Inside there's a short counter lining the front window for stool seating, two seats at the coffee serving bar, and a few inside chairs centered around a long, tall table with flowers growing out of its center. They offer 3-4 different coffees for Hario V60 pour-over (Ethiopia, Guatemala, etc.) plus two kinds of espresso from their two-group Synesso Hydra machine. They use a Compak grinder for their regular espresso blend (rated here), which uses a Costa Rican base among some 5-6 other varietals. It comes with a good thickness of heady medium brown crema and is served in a shotglass to show it off. It is lighter bodied for an espresso and has a molasses-like sweetness (very North American style). Their Organic Kintimani Bali ($3) is more of their single-origin espresso treat. They grind it with a separate Versalab grinder (far more unique and interesting than the Coava Kone they have gotten local press for) and pull shots with a ridiculously bountiful crema. The resulting cup is practically effervescent like a prosecco, and its lightness and subtle brightness spins the dark, heavy-bodied stereotype about Indonesian coffees on its head. They have access to a few hundred pounds of the stuff, so it's bound to be in supply for a while. In all, a great local caf´┐Ż - even if it doesn't rank among the city's elite.