Specialty's Cafe & Bakery

Overall Rating: 5.350

Address: 101 New Montgomery St.
Cross Street(s): Mission St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: SOMA
Phone: 415.512.9550
Hours: M-F 6am-7pm
Type of Establishment: Bakery (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 4.00
Barista: 5
Savvy: 4
Ambiance: 5
Presentation: 2
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: Franke
Coffee Rating: 6.70
Aroma: 6
Body: 7
Brightness: 7
Crema: 7
Flavor: 7
Taster's Correction: -0.5
Size: M
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Intelligentsia
Cup Manufacturer: Paper
Price: $1.45
Last Update: 11/30/2007
First Reviewed: 11/04/2003
Notes: None

This Specialty's turned to its Chicago connections and escalated the SF coffee wars by selling Intelligentsia as of Fall 2003. Today they heavily promote it (as they should) on internal signage. The focus is still on huge, 90% bread sandwiches. And while their fully-automated Franke Ecolino machine could be operated by a monkey, their espresso suddenly became noteworthy. Little seating save for countertops lining the windows. Staff is generally clueless about espresso - so the machine saves them from too much damage. They have since put dedicated staff behind the espresso machine during the morning rush. They also added some specialty drinks to the menu, highlighting more of a commitment than an afterthought behind their espresso (the macchiato tends to be a bit of dry foam, but it's not drowning like the cappuccino at most places). They serve espresso as a properly small shot in a small paper cup. It has a creamy, medium brown crema (it can vary) that's inconsistently rich or dissipates quickly. It can also be served hot to lukewarm. But the wild swings of these inconsistencies have evened out recently. Flavorwise, they have improved a bit since they introduced Intelligentsia's Espresso Blend; it has an herbal, woody flavor with some smoke and a faint, chocolate-like sweetness. There's no hint of bitterness to be found. A good, though not excellent, result.