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A Reliably Good Cappuccino

August 21, 2009

Thank you all for your patience.  Today will be my last planned post about coffee, at least for a while.  And I really feel the need to pull all of the coffee experiences together, and use it to explain one overarching thing about my thoughts on eating in San Francisco.

Yes, I absolutely had the best espresso of my life last week.
And yes, I had some remarkable brewed coffee from proprietary blends.

But I do believe that these stores just happen to be in San Francisco.  I imagine Blue Bottle could have started in Seattle or Philz could have been born in New York City.

Early one morning, before I had discovered Blue Bottle, I was taking Young Master Fussy out for a little treat.  We were in search of second breakfast, and I had coffee and pastry on the mind.  But it needed to be close to the hotel.

I had remembered a little bakery called Café Madeline that had a shop near Union Square.  They do something special.  They make chocolate whipped cream.  And they put it on their hot chocolate (and also on their mochas, if you are into that sort of thing).

It was really the perfect treat for a kid:
–       Hot chocolate
–       Chocolate whipped cream
–       Chocolate croissant

We called it our chocolate breakfast.  Sadly the croissant was disappointing for me, but the kiddo didn’t notice.  It had two veins of dark chocolate and chocolate drizzled on the top, and that was good enough for him.

I ordered a cappuccino.

I hadn’t vetted the shop with a prior order of a double espresso.  We seemed to be the first patrons in the café, early on a weekend morning, which would likely mean the machine had not adequately warmed up.  I did not even ask, as I customarily do, for my cappuccino to be made dry.

But when I was handed the drink, I could tell by its lightness that it was properly made.  And when I sat down and started to drink it, it dawned on me that this cappuccino rivaled the best drinks I have been served in the Capital District.

It is things like this that really set San Francisco apart from any other city: the ability to walk into a random bakery and be served a reliably good cappuccino.

Are there a few stinkers out there?  Certainly.

But the expectations are very high across the board.  Not just at the high end.  But at cafés and food counters and taco trucks and dim sum parlors and bakeries and fruit stands.

Is it because people are more fussy in the Bay Area?
Is it because they know what is good?
Or is it simply because they care more about eating well?

In the case of coffee, one cannot make the argument about the bounty of California produce and its annual harvesting cycle.  Everything is imported.  And one also cannot make the argument about foreign cooks making food for foreign diners.

I am at a loss.  But I hope to eventually figure it out.  Any thoughts?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2009 1:45 pm

    I think you people on the coasts are more attuned to these things because you have access to so much more. You live in very diverse parts of the country, many cultures and tastes all thrown together. I’ve never been to the bay area but I’m fussy about my Cappuccino. So when I find one the way I like it I stick to it. Unfortunately all we have to base our ‘exotic’ coffee on out here in the Midwest is Starbucks. Sad isn’t it? And I’m here to say no two Barristas are the same even at Starbucks. Fortunately I have found one who makes my drink just the way I like it. Someday I hope to have a REAL Cappuccino.

  2. August 27, 2009 1:42 pm

    I love coffee posts! This should be the Fussy Cappuccino blog!

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