Cafe Algiers

Overall Rating: 8.100

Address: 50 Beale St. #102
Cross Street(s): Mission St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: SOMA
Phone: 415.512.8681
Hours: M-Th 5:45am-5pm; F 5:45am-1pm, 2:30pm-6pm
Type of Establishment: Cafe
Cafe Rating: 8.00
Barista: 9
Savvy: 8
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: La Spaziale
Coffee Rating: 8.20
Aroma: 8
Body: 8
Brightness: 8
Crema: 9
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Syrup-like
Coffee Beans: Caff� Umbria
Cup Manufacturer: IPA
Price: $1.25
Last Update: 08/21/2008
First Reviewed: 05/23/2003
Notes: Coffee Sales

Small Middle Eastern caf� near the TransBay Terminal. Falafel and other delights, including a full espresso bar. Fun Algerian staff (family owned & operated) and atmosphere (including international music choices, such as Italian opera to Dean Martin). Adhere to informal Mediterranean hours (they'll chase you out sometimes). In 2005, they replaced their two-group La San Marco with a La Spaziale, but the results haven't changed much. The espresso here is mostly about the cult of Zino, their expert barista. He serves espresso with a rich, deep brown,tiger-striped, thick crema; a flavor of smoke, pepper, and a honey-like sweetness; and with a nice, long, smooth aftertaste. Zino shows his expert barista skills: he cleans, preheats, and takes all the time to tamp & pull properly to make an espresso of near technical perfection. (Zino is also a master of milk frothing.) The other non-Zino baristas here tend to pull their shots a bit longer, show less care in preparation, and serve more bitter cups, but in recent months Zino has trained other staff to elevate their craft. (The on-shift barista is the source of any inconsistency here.) In any case, there's no push-button espresso here: they were once flanked by two Starbucks on the same block, so it has to be good to survive. (As with the well-funded Western interlopers in the 1965 movie, "The Battle of Algiers," Starbucks may win the battles but lose the war: the Starbucks at the corner of Beale & Mission Sts. shut down in the winter of 2006.) Their milk frothing has improved recently to something very good - even latte art - and the cappuccinos here are now highly recommended. Served in tall, Caff� Umbria-branded IPA cups (and glass for large milk-based drinks). It's great to see them get a little coffee recognition: they recently added another dual-group La Spaziale to keep up with morning demand. And you can't beat the price, so tip a lot. Whenever we wonder if we've overrated them, they remind us that we haven't..