One might think that the Mission is starting to get high quality coffee saturated with Ritual, Four Barrel, Coffee Bar, and the many wholesale customer who purvey these fine coffees. You’d probably be right, but it’s not as though every corner has one of these shops and rarely do the offshoots do as well as the originals. Besides, distance matters and you may not want to or have time to trek 15 minutes just for coffee.
Enter 24th Street. It’s home to that ever expanding home of dubious coffee quality, Philz, and the nicely designed, but Equator coffee slinging Sugarlump (which I admittedly haven’t yet tried), but 24th Street still lacks a café with seating serving top flight coffee. Just to clarify, I’m not including the Dynamo Donuts here, operating under the belief that its rumored seating section has not opened, but even if it has, Dynamo is far enough east to leave open a niche of good coffee + seating further west. Thank goodness that Haus has finally set up shop.
What Haus does – and it’s not much – it does efficiently. Haus is pure minimalism from its austere, unpainted, bare wood motif, slim selection of pastries and singular espresso and choice of brewed coffee. The key to its success is that it does these few things well. It’s Achilles heal, I suppose, is the risk of conjuring Sprockets-like imagery.
The space, which I imagine could get quite loud with a crowd, is cool and edgy. It’s somehow also still a pleasing place to sit, especially on sunny days with lots of natural light from large windows that overlook busy 24th street up front and an unfinished patio area out back. The three group La Marzocco GB/5 is positively gleaming on it’s bare wood and black marble counter, yet it blends cleanly with the grey, concrete floors.
What I think makes Haus so interesting and well worth checking out is their multi-roaster approach. The specifics are still subject to change as the owners settle into a routine (they were open only a couple of weeks during my first visit), but the current menu involves shots of Ritual’s seasonal espresso and French Pressed coffee from De La Paz (stored in an airpot but frequently replenished). Haus also sells a small number of regularly rotating De La Paz and Ritual beans. This multi-roaster approach both gives customers a broad range of options and a something you can’t get even at the roaster’s own cafe. Haus, of course, is taking a slimmed down approach compared to Cafe Grumpy or Billy Wilson’s Barista, who provide a coffees from several different, often rotating, roasters.
The French Press selection on my visit was De La Paz’s Sumatra Gayoland. It was rich, creamy, dark, herbal and slightly roasted nutty. All in all, a very pleasing, if not particularly exciting cup of coffee.
The espresso, Ritual’s St. Clementine blend, was very fruity and bright, especially up front. There was lots of citrus and a touch of berry in this medium to light bodied espresso that didn’t have a lot of depth, but still worked on the whole, especially given its slightly buttery mouthfeel. The mottled and slightly bubbly crema signaled a mixed bag that ended up quite positive.
Just to compare, I also stopped by Ritual, immediately afterward, for a quick shot of the same. Honestly, I liked the espresso from Haus better, as Ritual’s tended towards wine-like and deep where Haus’ stayed bright and perky. Of course, this outcome could likely change on any given day, with a given barista and particular espresso blend. I should not that since this visit, both cafes have shifted over to Ritual’s next seasonal espresso – the Hopscotch – leaving the whole experiment open to be repeated by you.
So the bottom line, it seems, is that the Mission is not yet fully saturated with Ritual or De La Paz providers so long as they keep thinking of novel ways to present themselves as Haus has successfully done.