Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Beverages and bites in downtown San Diego

January 2nd, 2019

Downtown San Diego features many amazing places to eat and drink. By no means did I visit all of them, but here are three that I’d suggest to any tourist.

Bean Bar

Bean Bar

This small coffee shop is across the street from the Central Library and a block or so away from Petco Park. It’s run by a friendly young husband and wife team. Aside from coffee they also serve a small, seasonal food menu — I highly recommend the avocado toast.

A few people sat around doing work on laptops so I assume they have wifi. But the owners seemed happy to chat with anyone who wandered in.

Quartyard mural

Beer at the Quartyard

The Quartyard is a popup space near Park & Market, designed to fill an empty corner lot while the city plans what to do with the property long term. In the meantime it features a bar with an amazing selection of local craft beers on tap. They offer a menu with various burgers and other items — I had the grilled cheese. Wasn’t bad for a beer garden, and a pretty good deal if you order during happy hour. To be honest I wasn’t expecting to eat here but I stayed for a while as I was reading a book I couldn’t put down.

During the day the Quartyard has a cafe facing the sidewalk, but I can’t really recommend it — you can easily find better coffee nearby. Stick with the beer.

Tocaya Organica Tocaya Organica

Tocaya Organica

This fast casual Mexican restaurant chain has various locations in southern California. According to online reviews it’s a favorite in the Gaslamp, and it’s easy to see why. The taco combo includes two tacos, two side dishes, and one beverage for only twelve bucks. Many of the side dishes are sharable.

The San Diego location is located next to a perpetually empty TGI Friday’s. It’s telling when a small chain serving fresh Mexican food close to the border can poach customers from a mediocre chain of American diners. Who wants microwaved appetizers when delicious spicy tacos are next door?

A robot barista charged me for health care

August 9th, 2017

Robot health insurance
Screenshot of the receipt

Robots are handling food everywhere these days. Whether delivering falafel or attempting to scoop ice cream, there’s no escape from food robots in the Bay Area. All of which is fine with me: I, for one, welcome our new robot food service overlords.

What I’m not fine with, however, are spurious surcharges. So imagine my surprise when I paid a visit to Cafe X, the robot coffee machine at the Metreon, and found a small surcharge on my bill for health care.

While it’s not uncommon for San Francisco restaurants to add a surcharge for Healthy SF, a local subsidized medical care program for those without health insurance, this is the first time a machine has charged me such a fee.

Yes, I realize human employees maintain this robot. But if you think about it, Cafe X is nothing more than a fanciful vending machine. You put money in, make a selection, and a product comes out — that’s it. All vending machines require humans to restock it, clean it, etc. but when was the last time you went to buy a Coca-Cola from one only to find that your 99 cent beverage actually cost $1.10 because of a surcharge? Never, that’s when.

It also makes me wonder if the economics of this robot food service industry are really working out. The “robot” part of Cafe X is an off-the-shelf robot arm custom programmed to move cups around, the coffee beverages themselves are prepared by off-the-shelf automatic espresso machines. If Cafe X has to nickle and dime customers to the point where the prices are in line with Blue Bottle, why wouldn’t I go to Blue Bottle instead? It’s barely a block away, and to be honest their humans not only make better coffee, but they don’t charge an extra fee for health care.

Stanza Coffee on 16th

November 9th, 2012

Stanza Coffee

Stanza Coffee Stanza Coffee

Apparently while I was away, the “garage” half of Pork Store on 16th was closed and renovated into a coffee shop. Just like Pork Store, the place has two locations: one on Haight and one on 16th.

I dropped in to the new 16th St location and gave it a try. It’s obvious there’s still some growing pains — the cashier didn’t know how to use the register — but the espresso shot I had was pretty good. For a business that’s barely a day old, it seems to be on track.

Now I know what you’re thinking: another coffee shop in the Mission? Why? Turns out there’s a reason competitors tend to set up shop right next to one another; NPR’s Planet Money has the answer.

Four Barrel’s new parklet

June 25th, 2011

Four Barrel's parklet Four Barrel's parklet Four Barrel's parklet Four Barrel's parklet

Four Barrel opened their new parklet today. There’s a wood bar to hold your beverages, a brick flooring, and a bike rack in the middle. The design fits the Four Barrel industrial-brown aesthetic and looks like it should last. All they need now are some climbing plants to grow over the metal trellises.

Civet poop in my coffee cup

May 5th, 2011

img_2023 img_2021 img_2025 img_2024

Recently, Vic Wong of MissionMission was kind enough to invite a few of us over to taste Kopi Luwak, a type of coffee that’s consumed by a civet and, well — shat out — before it’s consumed as coffee.

I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the taste, but you can read more about this over at MissionMission.

Coffee roasting at home

February 10th, 2011

Coffee roasting

You’re looking at me like I’m crazy, but roasting your own coffee is where it’s at.

It’s pretty damn easy and it doesn’t take much to get started. I tinkered with roasting for years using nothing but a $3 electric popcorn popper I got from Goodwill. But you don’t even need that — Blue Bottle’s James Freeman got his start roasting coffee in his oven.

I got this particular roaster because it has a catalytic converter to reduce the smoke output. I also like the humor of the word “Professional” written on the plastic housing. It’s great for home use, but professional? Please.

There’s a number of places to buy raw coffee beans. Oakland-based e-tailer Sweet Marias is the best.

Anyway, I’ve been using the Nesco roaster for almost a month now, and give it two caffeinated thumbs up.

The Apple iBrik

June 23rd, 2010

Copy and paste? Multitasking? Folders?

These are old concepts; even on phones. But don’t tell Apple fans that the “new” features on their precious JesusPhone were on your Treo half a decade ago.

Likewise, Turkish coffee is over one thousand years old. But slap an Apple log on it and it’s exciting and new!

Behold the new Apple iBrik. It’s shiny and has an Apple logo, that’s all that matters.

Espresso Guy: Holiday Gift Guide

November 28th, 2009

My other site, Espresso Guy, now has the Holiday Gift Guide back online.

This is the gift guide for the coffee lover(s) in your life. It covers espresso, drip coffee, Turkish coffee, and press pot (french press) coffee. Do check it out today, won’t you?