Réveille Coffee Co.

A cappuccino, made with the seasonal Paradise Espresso at Réveille Coffee Co. and served in my HuskeeCup.Réveille is a Bay Area café/roaster with five locations across San Francisco and another in Berkeley. I’m indebted to my friends Angela and Karen, who independently pointed me in the direction of Réveille. The subject of today’s Coffee Spot is Réveille Coffee Co. (the other locations go by the name Réveille Café) on Columbus Avenue in North Beach, an area with a rich (Italian) coffee culture, but one where speciality coffee is a bit thin on the ground, making Réveille a welcome addition.

Réveille occupies a wedge-shaped building on the corner where Kearny Street intersects Columbus Avenue at 45°, which is as much of a draw as the coffee. A bright, high-ceilinged space, the seating lines the windows down either side of the island counter, along with tables outside on the sloping Columbus Avenue/Kearny Street.

All the coffee is roasted on a Probat that sits in the middle of Réveille Café in Mission Bay. The standard espresso-based menu uses the seasonal Paradise Espresso and decaf, with a seasonal single-origin batch-brew filter. However, it’s disposable cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own. A kitchen at the back provides brunch, with a selection of cakes and pastries throughout the day.

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19grams Alex – Roastery & Lab

Details from a sticker on the espresso machine at 19grams Alex in Berlin. A flat white, seen from above, with the words "Can you handle the Süss?" written around the rim of the saucer.The first place I wrote about when I visited Berlin in May was 19grams Schlesi in Kreuzberg. As I’m approaching the end of my collection of Berlin Coffee Spots from the trip, it’s fitting that 19grams features again. This time it’s the turn of 19grams Alex, the roastery & lab in Mitte, located on Karl-Liebknecht-straße in the shadow of the famous Berliner Fernsehturn on Alexanderplatz.

This is where the magic happens, the roastery, visible through glass doors to the left, producing all of 19grams coffee. Along with a conference/training room, this occupies one half of the space, while the rest of 19grams Alex is given over to a spacious coffee shop, with plenty of outdoor seating on the broad, paved expanse in front of the shop.

Although the setting is very different from 19grams Schlesi, the offering is the same, with the Wild at Heart blend on espresso (for milk-based drinks) along with a single-origin (default for espresso and Americano) and decaf, plus a single-origin on batch brew filter. The single-origins change on a regular basis, as does the food menu, which is the same across all four 19grams locations, offering innovative brunch options and sharing plates cooked to order.

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Spro – Mission Bay/SOMA

Detail from the A-board outside the Spro Coffee Lab trailer in Spark Social SFI was tipped off about Spro Coffee Lab by the baristas at Devout Coffee, visiting Spro’s Mission Dolores/Castro coffee shop the following day. In typical Coffee Spot fashion, this was Spro’s second location, its first being a trailer in San Francisco’s Mission Bay/SOMA neighbourhood. Fortunately, this is close to Caltrain’s San Francisco terminus on 4th and King Street, my gateway for my various day trips to the city, so the very next day, I headed for the original Spro.

Spro is part of Spark Social SF, a large outdoor food truck park, beer & sangria garden and event space. Impressively, given that it’s literally a trailer, serving from a window at one end, the menu is identical to Spro’s Mission Dolores/Castro coffee shop. The coffee’s from Black & White Coffee Roasters, its Classic espresso and decaf on espresso, joined by a blend and two single-origins on pour-over through the V60, along with mocktails and other drinks. There’s also the full range of salads, open-face toasts, soup and sandwiches, plus the dedicated pastries and desserts menu.

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Canopy Coffee, London Square

The interior of Canopy Coffee, London Square, a cosy coffee cabin/container, with the counter on the left and shelves full of goodies lining all three walls.Today’s Coffee Spot is part Coffee Spot Update, part regular Coffee Spot. You may recall that London Square, a large office complex on Guildford’s London Road, opposite London Road Station and Guildford High School, once housed the Surrey Hills Coffee Cabin. Sadly, COVID-19 put paid to that and, with office workers slow to return, the coffee cabin, a lovely container-style cabin in the car park, never re-opened.

Well, I say never, but that changed this June after a chance conversation in Canopy Coffee with a customer whose company had just moved into London Square. This led to Jackie, Canopy’s new owner, taking over the lease on the empty coffee cabin and Canopy Coffee, London Square was born!

The layout’s very similar to how Surrey Hills had it (hence the update part), although there’s no longer any indoor seating, just a solitary four-person table under the shade of a convenient tree. The offering is very similar to Canopy Coffee on Haydon Place, with a standard espresso-based menu using the bespoke house-blend from Skylark Coffee, along with decaf and a regularly-rotating single-origin on batch-brew filter. There’s the same range of toasties too, although the cakes are pre-packaged, with a lot more grab-and-go options.

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Coffeebar, Redwood City

The circular sign from outside Coffeebar, a stylised lion's head with flowing mane, the words "Coffeebar" at the top and "Redwood City" at the bottom, flanked by the letters NV (Nevada, left) and CA (California, right)Coffeebar is an interesting coffee shop/roastery chain spread across a diverse set of locations in California (four) and Nevada (Reno). Founded in 2010 in Truckee, California (which I passed through on the California Zephyr in 2019), the original coffee shop is still there, where it’s been joined by a bakery, although the roastery is now in Reno (which l also passed through on the California Zephyr). From that eastern base, Coffeebar spread to the Bay Area with two locations on the peninsula, Menlo Park, which arrived in 2018, and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Redwood City Coffeebar, which opened in September 2019.

Located on Broadway, a short walk from the Caltrain/bus station, it’s a lovely spot in an old, high-ceilinged building providing plenty of space, with as much seating outside under the shade of mature trees lining the pedestrianised street. Coffeebar offers the Zephyr blend and Prima Donna decaf on espresso, while there are two blends on batch brew, the dark roast Giuseppe and a rotating lighter roast (Trailhead during my visit), plus three single-origins on pour-over through the Kalita Wave/Modbar. There’s also tea, beer, wine and, if you’re hungry, breakfast, lunch and a range of cakes and pastries.

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Canopy Coffee Update

The Canopy logo (the word CANOPY with five leaf outlines above the C & A) in white chalk from the top of the menu board inside Canopy Coffee.It’s been just over five years since I first visited Canopy Coffee, at the time, Guildford’s newest speciality coffee shop. Very much the creation of its owner, Jonathon, Canopy was a wonderful multi-roaster coffee shop, one of Guildford’s coffee pioneers, as well as offering some fantastic food. Jonathon also did an amazing job of turning an awkward corner spot opposite Waitrose into a cosy coffee shop.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Jonathon reinvented the space, turning Canopy into a take-away coffee shop, the first of Guildford’s speciality coffee shops to re-open. Although Canopy reopened some limited indoor seating, it retained the takeaway window, effectively becoming a sit-in/take-away hybrid.

Jonathon always said that he wouldn’t be at Canopy forever and, true to his word, this time last year, he sold Canopy to its current owner, Jackie, an Australian who has been running cafés in the UK for over 15 years. I’ve visited Canopy a few times since the change of ownership, so I thought it was high time I did an actual Coffee Shop update.

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Spro – Mission Dolores/Castro

My espresso, a washed Colombian from Black & White Coffee Roasters, served in an interesting cup at Spro Coffee Lab in San Francisco, along with three blueberries as palate cleansers.Spro Coffee Lab was recommended by the baristas at Devout Coffee in Fremont, who marked it out as doing some of the best espresso in San Francisco. Spro began as a trailer in Spark Social SF, which is still going strong, followed by a bricks-and-mortar store in Mission Dolores/Castro, where I headed on the day following my visit to Devout. Occupying a bright corner with plenty of windows, there are five tables outside on the pavement and a similar amount of seating in the minimalist interior.

According to its website, Spro Coffee Lab serves “specialty craft coffee, experimental mocktails, inventive eats and artisanal goods using advanced techniques in culinary food science”, which is as good a description as any. There’s a selection of salads, open-face toasts, soup and sandwiches, while if you want something sweeter, another menu, just as extensive as the savoury one, is dedicated to pastries and desserts. There’s even a (smaller) menu for dogs!

When it comes to coffee, Spro currently uses Black & White Coffee Roasters from North Carolina, with its current Classic espresso, plus decaf, on a concise menu, while there’s a blend and two single-origins on pour-over, plus the aforementioned mocktails and other drinks.

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KaffeeKirsche Café & Bakery

A beautiful carafe of a V60 of the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Grassroots, a fine, rich, fruity, full bodied naturally-processed coffee, roasted and served by KaffeeKirsche Café & Bakery on a wooden tray with a cup on the side.When I went to Berlin in May, I already had a long list of coffee shops that I wanted to visit. However, KaffeeKirsche (literally, “coffee cherry”) was a chance discovery on my last Sunday, which I spent wandering the streets of Kreuzberg, arguably the birthplace of Berlin’s speciality coffee scene. In a familiar story, KaffeeKirsche is a roastery with small chain of coffee shops (three so far), which started on Adalbertsraße (also home to Bonanza Coffee and The Visit).

I actually walked past the original café, which opened in 2014 and was also the original roastery, which looked interesting enough for me to do some quick online research (the joys of smartphones and free (for now) EU roaming). This led to the discovery of both the roastery café in Tempelhof and the café/bakery on Böckhstraße, which is where I ended up in my quest for lunch.

The café/bakery occupies a spacious corner spot with plenty of seating inside and out. Brunch is served until three o’clock, while the cake selection is available all day. There’s a standard espresso-based menu, a pair of single-origins on pour-over via the V60 and a range of tea and other drinks.

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Voyager Craft Coffee, Santa Clara University

One of Voyager Craft Coffee's signature desintation drinks, the Santiago, served in a large, purple cup with a small latte art heart.Located on The Alameda, just east of the beautiful Santa Clara University campus, this is one of two new (to me) locations for Voyager Craft Coffee since I last visited San Jose/Santa Clara in early 2020 (the other is in Cupertino). It opened not long after that trip, in April 2020, which means that its entire existence has been during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a convenient 20-minute walk south of Santa Clara station on the Caltrain line between San Jose and San Francisco, my main axis for exploring the peninsular. However, Santa Clara is also served by the Amtrak’s Capital Corridor and the ACE commuter service, connecting it with the East Bay and beyond.

Voyager is on the corner with Chapman Court, occupying a simple, rectangular space with the narrow side facing The Alameda. There’s plenty of seating inside, while outside, in the shade of three large trees along Chapma Court, you’ll find lots more tables. There’s the usual Voyager offering, with the house blend, single-origin and decaf on espresso, joined by pour-over, batch brew and a range of travel/destination-themed signature drinks, everything roasted in-house. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a selection of toast-based items, granola and a range of cakes.

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Scullery

A classic espresso, made with Saint Frank Coffee's Little Brother blend and served at Scullery in San Francisco in a classic, bright yelllow cup.No trip to the Bay Area would be complete without a visit to San Francisco, so, with a day to spare before my meeting started on Tuesday, I hopped on the Caltrain, heading north to the city, where my first stop was Scullery, recommended by my friend Karen. In British English, a scullery is a small kitchen, a fitting name given Scullery’s size, although the actual kitchen area, behind the counter, is probably twice as big as the space allowed for customers.

Lack of size is no limit to Scullery’s ambition though. A multi-roaster, drawing from a range of local roasteries (“friends of ours” according to the manager), the concise espresso-based menu is joined by batch brew filter, several signature drinks, tea (including PG Tips) and a selection of toast-based items. These include plain toast, classic avocado toast and, in a nod to the country of my birth, Welsh Rarebit.

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