While start-ups may be the first thing people associate with San Francisco, coffee is becoming a close second. Organic, single-origin coffee beans from Ethopia seem like they're coming out of every crack and crevice from The Mission to SoMa, two neighborhoods in SF that are home to some of the best coffee roasteries around. These contemporary, artisan-crafted, farm-to-cup coffee connoisseurs are Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, Sightglass, Ritual, and more. However, these guys did not put San Francisco on the map from a coffee perspective, historically-speaking. The Hills Bros. Coffee and Folgers Coffee Company did. (The Hills Bros. Coffee invented a vacuum-packing method in 1900 that enabled coffee to last longer which as a result, sustained the gold miners in San Francisco and beyond.)
I am including coffee roasters in this editorial because in some small way, I do think it takes courage to create something meaningful from just a bean. Like turning a lemon into lemonade. Creating something special and different from the mundane and routine (or sour). Seeing the world in a different way after the thing (i.e. coffee) exists or when the rest of society is salvating over something else and moving in that direction by the masses (e.g. the trajectory and influence of technology). Some skeptics might retort that this is just a hipster business with the goal as this: get folks addicted under the guise of an "artisan-crafted movement." However, regarding that line of thought, I am pretty sure most people were already addicted before crossing paths with, say, Four Barrel or Ritual. The beauty from the integrity, craftsmanship and ingenuity in the cups of coffee brewed is notable, not just because of the taste: to see an ordinary bean and essentially create something utterly different (and not for the masses) requires risk, calculation, and then, relinquishment - hoping the espresso turns out just as envisioned and hoped for. This creativity and bravery - all taking place in the larger meta-context of our current milieu that (I believe) supports a narrowing understanding of, say, science and math - are very much needed as a way to encounter our days with a different oriention, outlook, and opportunity.
P.S. Many of the coffee roasteries and cafes I feature below have multiple locations throughout the city. In this issue, I'm highlighting their main storefronts. (If you want to try their coffee and you're not in the area, you can. Many offer subscriptions. x)
Hills Bros. Coffee
Folgers Coffee Company Building
Blue Bottle Coffee Kiosk
Réveille Coffee Company
Roasters and Cafes