As my wife, daughter and I sat munching apple fritters at the Sebastopol Gravenstein Apple Fair, I realized that what I wanted to go with it was a really good cup of coffee. I suggested a trip to Flying Goat, which involved only the slightest detour through Santa Rosa. My wife, however, expressed an interest in having a family outing that didn’t involve searching for coffee so we spent the next few hours wandering the fair with friends: eating apple and non-apple foods, drinking beer and cider, navigating a hay bale maze, petting non-flying goats, dancing to mariachi music and generally being amazed at how the apple-related transformed this typical country festival into into a fair to remember.
Now I really did plan on letting my wife have her wishes and letting the coffee thing drop, but as we started to tire of apples we began to think of something else to do with our friends. I, of course, blurted out the first thing that came to mind – Flying Goat in Santa Rosa. Fortunately, our friends seemed excited to go – they had to head back to Santa Rosa anyway – and my wife was happy to spend some more time with our friends. A detour through Santa Rosa it would be.
Now it’s been years since I’ve been to Flying Goat and I was worried about what I might find. I had some very good Flying Goat coffee at this years WRBC and more regularly enjoyed what I’ve been served at Village Grounds in Berkeley. One report I read, however, suggested a slip in standards (at least at the main Healdsburg location) that didn’t bode well for this trip. I am happy to report, however, that coffee quality at Flying Goat, at least the Santa Rosa shop is certainly up to par.
As of the end of July, Flying Goat began French pressing all of their coffee, storing it in insulated carafes with built in timers, which regularly indicate to staff to brew fresh coffee. The name of the pressed coffee the day I visited was a mouthful, but a delicious mouthful it was. The Guatemala Finca San Jose Ocana Chimaltanando is medium-bodied with an ever so slightly syrupy mouthfeel, but very bright, slightly grassy, and sweet with a lemon-orange acidity.
I also enjoyed the Espresso Ticino, pulled restretto-style on their (I have a 2-group listed in my notes but have seen a 3-group listed elsewhere) La Marzocco Linea. I really enjoyed the few sips I got before it was hurled across the table. That’s one of the hazards of drinking coffee around small children (don’t worry: no children were harmed in the making of this blog). The espresso was medium-bodied and had aromas of ceylon tea and green grapes. It was just a little smokey and had a light tobacco aftertaste.
Although I didn’t order a larger milk drink, I’d like to mention Flying Goat’s admirable approach to espresso. They are one of the few cafes I know that maintains and pulls two espresso blends as a matter of course – the lighter Ticino blend for espresso and cappuccinos and the darker Vesuvio for lattes. I imagine that maintaining two blends is a more expensive endeavor but I appreciate the way this allows for a more delicate espresso as well as a shot that stands up well in milk.
One other thing I really do love about Flying Goat Coffee is their sense of design. The bar and tables are constructed out of large, black, welded steel sheets and the chairs are slim, brigh orange, injection-molded plastic. The walls are a pale shade of green (not quite emerald) on which are hung a couple of chocolate brown chalkboards. It’s the same modern furnishings and color palette that fills their other two stores in Healdsburg, but really stands out in this location. It’s a perfect contrast to the historical gray stone walls of the Old Western Hotel building it occupies.
Good coffee. Good design. There’s no place like the Goat.