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Anyone try Blue Bottle Coffee? - Page 4

Postby TheSunInsideYou on Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:37 pm

I've never been to said stalls or have seen the preground, but you're right, I don't think that a quality coffee company should be degrading their own product. BUT: the company is a for-profit business. If the market stall only was interested in ground coffee, and promised ongoing profits, I can understand why BB would choose to make that deal. I wouldn't make that call, and I'm not saying that I approve of them making it, but there is certainly a difference between being a hobbyist and being a business.

As far as the staff being pretentious, I'm sure that that was true in the shop you were in, but the one in Chelsea that I go to is just the opposite. They were all thrilled to talk coffee and whatever else with me without condescension in any way. They were genuinely pleasant people.

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Postby berkinet on Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:41 pm

[quote=TheSunInsideYou]...As far as the staff being pretentious, I'm sure that that was true in the shop you were in, [/quote]
That was the mother-ship in Oakland, California. Now aint that something, New Yorkers nicer than Californians.
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Postby TheSunInsideYou on Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:52 pm

berkinet wrote:That was the mother-ship in Oakland, California. Now aint that something, New Yorkers nicer than Californians.


:lol: That does seem a bit strange, I'll admit. And obviously the Oakland shop should be the most impressive and inviting, but that doesn't sound to be the case.

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Postby drgary on Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:54 pm

About people seeming pretentious, it depends, doesn't it?

I've gotten nothing but kind, courteous and attentive treatment by baristas at Blue Bottle in the S.F. Ferry Building and Mint Plaza. The coffee quality's usually at least very good. When they're rushed I don't hassle the baristas. If they're more relaxed I might try and open conversation and they usually respond. If not, is that a "pretentious" or "better than" attitude or what you might find with anyone who's got a bit of downtime in a busy day of serving the public? Both of those places typically serve lines of people that are 12 deep. What would it be like to face that continuous demand day after day?
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Postby TheSunInsideYou on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:13 pm

drgary wrote:About people seeming pretentious, it depends, doesn't it?

I've gotten nothing but kind, courteous and attentive treatment by baristas at Blue Bottle in the S.F. Ferry Building and Mint Plaza. The coffee quality's usually at least very good. When they're rushed I don't hassle the baristas. If they're more relaxed I might try and open conversation and they usually respond. If not, is that a "pretentious" or "better than" attitude or what you might find with anyone who's got a bit of downtime in a busy day of serving the public? Both of those places typically serve lines of people that are 12 deep. What would it be like to face that continuous demand day after day?


It's exhausting :lol:. I would completely agree, for the most part. Obviously, people get stressed out and busy, and maybe they get tunnel vision and stop being able to socialize and work effectively, but they should never get to the point of pretentious. There shouldn't be a hint of condescension to customers, no matter what. If you work in the hospitality business, people are going to annoy you every day. You can't let that burn you out so much that you stop offering patience for people who don't know any better and enthusiasm for people who want to share in your passion. This is all assuming that you have that passion, and it's my opinion that you shouldn't be in the profession unless you do. If you just want a job, get one at Sbux.

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Postby drgary on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:23 pm

So much of what looks like pretentiousness is also the showiness of youth. Working as a barista in a top cafe is mostly a young person's job. I like to give them the benefit of the doubt. With life experience many get over themselves. We can argue in circles about this but it's a glass half full/half empty thing. Would that every cafe owner had the graciousness of Phillip Ma of Mavelous.
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Postby phillip canuck on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:29 pm

Their Oakland shop is the BB I visit most often, and never have I found them pretentious. Indeed, I was there two days ago and asked them how many grams they dose for their drip coffee. Short story: it turned into a much longer answer than I was looking for (24 grams for the Ethiopian Pea Berry and they let it rest 5 days before grinding), but I was still appreciative that they took the time to give me a very thorough answer. Not to mention that they were quite busy and all three baristi were involved in talking to me (and I just asked the one question!).

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Postby salsa on Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:42 am

I always come back to Blue Bottle beans (specifically Retrofit and Hayes): I enjoy their espresso blends, surprisingly consistent. Four Barrel, De La Paz, and Sightglass don't do it for me though I buy their beans occasionally. I always come back to BB-- the variety in the espresso blends gets me, and they have never sold me old beans-- always dated, always 1 or 2 days post-roast-- which I can't say for the other newer places.

While I'm a fan of the beans, service is a mixed bag. Service in the Ferry Building, on Linden, and at the Mint Plaza is dialed in: courteous, professional, not too chatty but friendlier than a few years ago, like somebody reminded everyone they're in a service business.

Service at their new place on 18th Street in the Mission is not dialed in yet. The layout is different compared to the other shops in that there's no little side area near the register to wait to buy beans only, and they usually put my beans on the glass case left of the register as opposed to, like, giving me the beans they just sold me! And unlike the FB, Linden, or Mint, they don't pull espresso blends, but use a 2-paddle machine and profile SO beans, which can be interesting but not enjoyable to me.

Then few weeks ago, they were pulling Giant Steps shots and it was amazing! Most memorable shot in a while, but when I asked a manager the other day why they don't pull Giant Steps more, he said they never pull Giant Steps. Well I know somebody pulled me Giant Steps because they said it was Giant Steps, plus it didn't taste like cherries and tangerine pop rocks-- it was deep and rich and awesome. But the manager said nope, didn't happen. Not sure what to make of that, but I'll keep asking what they're pulling, and I'll keep declining their SO shots.
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Postby Intrepid510 on Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:37 pm

Service is always a mixed bag, and I have not been disappointed at any of BB's b/m locations. However, my first experience with them was at the Berkeley farmer's market and the coffee is bad there no way getting around it. Is it because it's preground I don't know, I didn't even notice the first two times I tried their coffee there. However, I just wish they just followed their own advice and ground it fresh.

Really how hard would it be to rig up something so you could run a grinder over the course of a few hours?
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Postby SpromoSapiens on Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:42 pm

My brother gave me the Blue Bottle book for Hanukkah, and i have to admit it has endeared them to me significantly. I haven't bothered with the food section of the book, but the coffee section is unabashedly pretentious and yet also a great read. I learned a lot about the art of pourover and the "nel." He doesn't dumb it down at all for the uninitiated, which I respect; it's a literate 3rd-wave coffee lover's conversation. The same brother also dropped off a bag of BB's recent Aida Batlle Selection (Finca La Florida Los Tanques) and it was outstanding. I reported back to him my amateur-taster impressions... "Dry aroma = Waffles with berrys & whip; Early sips = clove & grapefruit; As it cooled = sour-apple jolly rancher. Overall a heck of a lot of candy fruit sweetness in the scent and a really nice, syruppy, winey mouthfeel. Seriously dang awesome." And so my faith is renewed!
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