Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Off the Map: This Coffee Is Not Worth the Nonsense

Kyoto Iced Coffee -- Blue Bottle Coffee, San Francisco, CA
Blue Bottle Coffee

The good news about our second day in San Francisco is that we don't, due to our inability to adjust off of east coast time, wake up at 5:00am.

We wake up at 4:30am.
Hopeless. We Are Hopeless
And being that we still have a solid 4 hours before we will be picked up by our wine country bus tour (and also being that sending us into wineries on empty stomachs is the surest way to get us banned from the state of California), we decide to kick off our morning with a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee.
We Need to Found a West Coast Restaurant Chain That Opens at 4:00am, Just to Serve People Like Us
Now, we have been heralded of the wonders of Blue Bottle Coffee by west coasters and San Francisco visitors in the past, but we have never been inspired enough to make our way to the Brooklyn location.  
In Truth, Not Much Gets Us to Brooklyn
Luckily, not only is this Blue Bottle shop two blocks from our hotel, but it is one of the few that also serves the Best Thing I Ever Ate BEST I EVER DRANK beverage, the kyoto iced coffee, as recommended by Chris Cosentino.
Um, Excuse Us, But Where's the Rest?
Despite our 7:30am arrival time, and the seemingly desolate location of this particular shop, there is a line out the door of Blue Bottle when we get there.  
Also, Either Someone Forgot Their Hat, Or San Francisco Has a Very Interesting Interpretation of "Art"
Because we have nothing better to do, we wait in said line without too much complaint, as Ginger manages to up both of our anxiety levels by delineating our hypothetical emergency preparedness plans: "I keep envisioning what we'll do if there's an earthquake while we're here.  It doesn't look good for us."
Grab the Cookies and Run, Just in Case
Eventually, we reach the cash register, and Ginger orders us a kyoto iced coffee, along with a skim latte and snickerdoodle cookie (Vodka) and a skim cafe au lait and ginger molasses cookie (obviously Ginger).  
Breakfast of Champions
At this point, we wait a SOLID TEN MINUTES for our coffees to be ready, as the two workers very calmly maneuver around the drip coffee and fancy-schmancy espresso machines.  The line out the door continues to grow, and no one seems remotely perturbed.

What IS this madness?
Somebody Get the Lead Out!
"This nonsense would never survive in Manhattan," Vodka mumbles as we settle down at a window seat with our plethora of beverages.  Indeed, even before tasting, we're not sure how all of this coffee could ever be worth all of this slow, waiting around business.  
Patience = Not Our Strongest Attribute
This place makes Starbucks look like the motor speedway of morning drinks, and with a $4.25 price tag on what would be considered a "tall" at Starbucks, it seems highly overpriced, even by overpriced-coffee standards.
In Other Words, This Place Is a Rip-Off of Time AND Money
We try the kyoto iced coffee first, which is pretty much a shot of coffee with a single iced cube.  
Though When We Hear "A Shot," We Expect Something Other Than Coffee, If You Know What We Mean
Is it good?  Sure.  Is it strong?  YES.  But is it GREAT?  No.  Not even a little.  
It Is ICED COFFEE -- Nothing More, Nothing Less
Our milk-based drinks are similarly underwhelming, as our favorite parts about them are the figures drawn in the foam.  
Which, For the Record, Never Disappear. "Good" to the Last Drop
Indeed, Vodka's latte has a solid inch of foam covering the top, which considering the size of the cup itself, seems to be way too much.  Ginger quips that her cafe au lait would be better with some whiskey in it, and we silently calculate if we have enough time to make our way uptown for some Irish coffee before our wine tour (sadly, we do not).
The Best Part of Waking Up Is NOT Foam Art, No Matter How Lovely
In contrast to, you know, what they're known for, Blue Bottle Coffee's cookies are fairly fantastic.  Soft and chewy, they have strong natural flavors and taste like comfort, leading us to believe that Blue Bottle should abandon the coffee all together and become a bakery.  
Now These -- THESE Are Impressive
The cookies are 100% more interesting than the drinks, which are downright tepid only five minutes after we've received them.
Ginger's Ginger Cookie
As we sip our drinks apathetically, we stare at the continually-growing line.  "What kinds of jobs do these people have that they can wait in this kind of line for coffee?" Vodka asks.  "Do they get here at 7:30 just to be at work by 9:00?"  
Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!
Indeed, while at most other coffee shops (namely, any Starbucks in Manhattan), there are long but MOVING lines, Blue Bottle's is fairly stagnant, which no one but us seems to find infuriating.
As Is the Case with Many Things In Life, We Suppose
Eventually, we manage to procure lids for our cups (which Blue Bottle keeps in a hidden corner, presumably for "environmental" purposes) and head off toward many hours of day-drinking.
Greetings Napa, We Await Our Wine Glasses
And tellingly, before we even reach our hotel, we toss the remainder of our coffees into the trash -- our precious, $4.25, endless line-worthy coffees.  Because for us, Blue Bottle, you are just not worth the nonsense.

Blue Bottle Coffee's Kyoto Iced Coffee: 3 stars

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