Location: 754 Post Street (between Jones and Leavenworth), San Francisco, CA
After my best friend and I hit up the Blue Bottle Ferry Plaza kiosk and before we sated his out-of-town burrito hunger at La Tacqueria (against the recommendations of otherwise admirable Burrito Eater), took a detour by the recently opened farm:table. This visit was a treat for me since I still haven’t yet made it down to Santa Cruz to try out the coffee from up and coming Verve Coffee Roasters. Farm:table, you see, is Verve’s first, and, as far as I know, only Bay Area account. The only downside to such a thrilling morning coffee crawl was making my friend feel bad. He wondered aloud why it was only after he left, that the Bay Area had such an explosion of great coffee.
As happy as I am to see farm:table close to home, I easily could have pegged it as a new contribution to the New York coffee scene. The inside space is tiny. It’s just big enough for 8 people to sit snugly around the handsome communal table (of the cafe’s namesake?) and a little space for standing at the counter. In addition to the tiny space, farm:table’s simple, high quality, house-prepared menu resembles that of New York establishments such as Abraço and Simon Sips. Finally, while farm:table does have a strong commitment to producing quality coffee and informing the public about it, they do not roast their own. While third wave cafes that are wholesale accounts rather than roaster cafes are becoming increasingly common in these parts, they are still the exception rather than the rule.
I didn’t try farm:table’s food, other than a pastry gobbled down to offset the effects of too much caffeine and the tiny, quite good cookie served saucer side with my espresso. The menu, however, looks simple and impressive. Written in chalk across the wall next to and above the counter, the selection of organic, local, seasonal and creatively constructed salads and sandwiches likely warrants a try. The food here probably would have been better for me (and the planet) and higher quality than the food that I was soon to consume, but lets face it, my taco was tasty.
The coffee menu is also simple, but not without an element of choice. Farm:table offers two single origin coffees, each one prepared a different way. You can get a cup of French Pressed coffee (stored in an airpot), which on my visit was a coffee from Guatamala. For a bit more, you can order 16 ounces of coffee prepared via Eva Solo. On my visit, farm:table was using the Eva Solo to brew an Ethiopian coffee.
Although the Ethiopian sounded like the more exciting coffee, the 16 oz. Eva Solo was too much to drink given our coffee crawling plans. I opted instead for the Guatemala. I was fighting off the start of what would become a nasty cold, but I think I was still at a point of getting an accurate read on this coffee. It struck me as surprisingly light and gentle for a French Press with a lemon oil-like acidity and a touch of leather and tobacco in a slightly viscous, but clean cup.
The barista was more than happy to talk about the coffee and the shop’s approach as he pulled shots on the 3 group La Marzocco Linea. He was clearly coffee-passionate guy – so much so that he forgot to charge us when we were through. It seems at farm:table you settle up after you drink! We did trudge back after we realized what happened, but the pay after scheme seems to leave something to be desired from the perspective of earning a profit and the for the sake of your customers sense of guilt.
The espresso, when it did arrive, looked good with a not too voluminous head of nicely reddish brown crema, capping off a surprisingly short shot. Farm:table uses the All City blend, their custom blend from Verve, which includes some Guatamala and Brazil. While the name struck me as somewhat mediocre, the shot was not. It was slightly buttery with a medium body and notes of tea and meyer lemon. The acidity was front foward mellowing into something creamy and savory after. All-American might be almost a better name given this subtle, American-ristretto twist on a more traditional Italian style.