Caff� del Sole

Overall Rating: 7.800

Address: 4342 California St.
Cross Street(s): 6th Ave.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94118
Neighborhood: Inner Richmond
Phone: 415.386.1800
Hours: Su-Sa 7:30am-7pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar
Cafe Rating: 8.00
Barista: 8
Savvy: 7
Ambiance: 8
Presentation: 9
Consistency: Very consistent
Espresso Machine: Elektra
Coffee Rating: 7.60
Aroma: 6
Body: 8
Brightness: 8
Crema: 8
Flavor: 7
Taster's Correction: 1.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Lavazza
Cup Manufacturer: IPA
Price: $1.75
Last Update: 12/27/2010
First Reviewed: 02/20/2006
Notes: Outdoor Seating

This caf� opened in July 2005, replacing Cool Beans - one grungy caf� in a series of ownership changes at this location. The new proprietor, Caserta, Italy-born Antonio (himself an expert waiter down at the SF restaurant, La Ciccia), brings a clear Italian flair to this location (he even answers the phone with 'pronto!'). When you approach it from the street, however, you might mistake it for a Mexican burrito joint. In front are Lavazza (formerly Miscela d'Oro) parasols over sidewalk tables. Inside are a few more small caf� tables and an Italian decorative flair (they cleaned up the place), Internet access, and a flat screen TV airing RAI International. And yes, Antonio airs all the Serie A calcio matches (and he is a fellow juventino, i.e., a Juventus fan). But resisting my obvious personal biases, the place is surprisingly very good for the neighborhood. Antonio experimented with a less expensive Lavazza Super Crema versus his original Miscela d'Oro and later settled on Lavazza based on his customers' taste preferences. From a two-group Elektra machine, they served espresso properly short, dark, and sweet in their Caff� del Sole days. With Lavazza shots now, the sweetness is gone - perhaps Americans expect more bitterness in their shots. Still, it's produced with skill here: a medium-to-darker brown crema with definite congealed thickness, classic Lavazza tobacco and smokiness (though on the fresh, flavorful side for Lavazza). And in the morning they warm up fresh chocolate and white cream cornetti (croissants). Absolutely worth a visit, even if it was moreso for their Miscela d'Oro days. Decent milk-frothing too - albeit less in the microfoam and more on an emulsion of good consistency.