Specialty's Cafe & Bakery

Overall Rating: 4.300

Address: 150 Spear St.
Cross Street(s): Btwn Mission & Howard Sts.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: Embarcadero
Phone: 415.957.8719
Hours: M-Su 6am-6pm
Type of Establishment: Cafe (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 2.80
Barista: 3
Savvy: 4
Ambiance: 2
Presentation: 2
Consistency: Inconsistent
Espresso Machine: Franke
Coffee Rating: 5.80
Aroma: 5
Body: 6
Brightness: 7
Crema: 5
Flavor: 7
Taster's Correction: -1.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Ashy
Coffee Beans: Intelligentsia
Cup Manufacturer: Paper
Price: $1.10
Last Update: 04/28/2005
First Reviewed: 05/23/2003
Notes: Coffee Sales

Specialty's espresso overhaul of 2004 has suddenly made this location semi-respectable. Formerly, this was the malt liquor of cafe espresso: served triple-sized (and cheap) in a wide-mouthed paper cup, made with an Astoria machine with Superior Coffee beans (which has since been renamed Sara Lee Coffee & Tea Foodservice to reflect their new, massive, anything-but-Fair Trade ownership), and somewhat bitter tasting with a sharp aftertaste. The one thing that hasn't improved is the crema - which now is less consistent, thin, pale, and striped. It still comes in a large cup, but the flavor has definitely improved: tobaccoey with definite traces of bittersweet chocolate. While it is still served in a gargantuan cup, the serving size is properly modest - likely contributing to the major flavor improvements - and the serving temperature is just right. Still, this is a push-button barista operation, and it shows.