Specialty's Cafe & Bakery

Overall Rating: 4.600

Address: 505 Sansome St.
Cross Street(s): Clay St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94111
Neighborhood: Financial District
Phone: 415.627.0969
Hours: M-F 6am-6pm
Type of Establishment: Bakery (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 3.00
Barista: 2
Savvy: 4
Ambiance: 4
Presentation: 2
Consistency: Inconsistent
Espresso Machine: Franke
Coffee Rating: 6.20
Aroma: 6
Body: 6
Brightness: 7
Crema: 6
Flavor: 6
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Intelligentsia
Cup Manufacturer: Paper
Price: $1.25
Last Update: 01/26/2007
First Reviewed: 11/15/2006
Notes: None

This location had to be revisited, because the initial results were so surprising. Like any other Specialty's, they use the same equipment and beans: Intelligentsia, but produced in a lame paper cup by super-automatic machines and "baristas" who really make sandwiches and push buttons. Despite this, they (on first try) produced the best super-automatic espresso I've ever had. It came with a medium-brown, moderately thick, even crema, a substantial body as an appropriately short shot, and a pungent, herbal punch of thyme and some cloves. Can they do this consistently? Unfortunately, no. Repeat visits produced espresso with a thinner-bodied, pale white crema and a pungent flavor that inherited too much ashiness. Starbucks and all their vast resources have been unsuccessfully trying to systematically pull off the great, consistent, super-automated for years. Too bad this location's initial success was merely an irreproducible fluke, as the espresso is typically average here now.