alternatives to blue bottle coffee....to soothe your organic hipster soul
In case you missed it, Blue Bottle Coffee sold a majority stake in its company to Nestle, the Swiss food conglomerate of that chocolate bar with Rice Krispies fame. Oh yeah, and they do a crap ton of other food stuffs too it seems which they are now trying to push in an odd way in Brazil--will Blue Bottle eventually be a part of this?
Predictably, with the announcement, hipster Twitter lost their minds and got their man buns in a tighter knot with a general uproar and ergo, the backlash began. And on a recent visit to their South Park location, I must say I was surprised to see no line at mid morning, usually the height of coffee break time in this SOMA tech hub.
But I say anyone who didn't see this coming wasn't really paying attention. While the full company has been around about 15 years, I think it was about 6 or 7 years ago they seemed to kick into expansion mode as they started opening new locations around the Bay Area and beyond--kon'nichiwa and domo arigato Japan! These were just the first signs of course and they continued as Blue Bottle made a play to really create their brand with an array of pre-packaged goods you can find at some of their larger locales like:
and what a surprise, their own chocolate bar! Though, they have been giving out tiny sample squares with their coffees at Ferry Building for a bit in order to pique interest as it were. Marketing you know. So the fact they've gone and finally jumped on the bandwagon of corporate money like a number of local businesses of late (why hey there Cowgirl Creamery and Anchor Brewing, meet your new member!) really should come as no surprise to anyone. And if it does, well, that's on you. Just a small note on that 71% dark chocolate bar, they've loaded it down with sugar, 20 grams worth in that little square. An amount which pretty much takes away any benefit you may get from eating dark chocolate. So see, another example of how Nestle was just a matter of time.
But I'm not here to point fingers or criticize them, it is business after all. What I can do is help all those lost coffee souls in San Francisco who feel cheated or angry their local organic drip cafe au lait is no longer as local as they want it to be. Don't fret I say, as there are still a fair number of other great local coffee options to satisfy your caffeine craving, meet your "made in SF" needs and feel good about where you spend the money you make/made at your start-up. (Sorry, sometimes hypocritical sarcasm just falls right across my keyboard) All that aside, here's a list of still local roasters/coffee shops worth giving a try.
- Sightglass Coffee: a sibling owned company who do their roasting in their large and airy SOMA location.
- Ritual Coffee Roasters: sure, their cup and star symbol looks like a communist flag but hey, they haven't sold out yet!
- Four Barrel Coffee: bonus points, they work with co-ops in places like Ethiopia to source beans to prepare in a giant German roasting machine.
- Andytown Coffee Roasters: they have a cool shop in Outer Sunset because it gets foggy out there and a hot cup o' joe goes down smooth.
- Equator Coffees & Teas: okay, technically they are in Marin, but that is Bay Area and we have to give props to and support to women owned and run companies.
- Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters: sustainably sourced and roasted, Trish and Nicholas are doing good while doing good for others.
- Linea Caffe: just the one caffe but they roast and serve some of the finest coffee beans sourced from around the world.
- AKA Coffee: they roast in Oakland but don't judge or be snobby about that people as they serve up and package for offices and shops around the Bay Area.
- Reveille Coffee Co.: okay, so they are more cafe, but they are SF based and homegrown with only 3 locations around town. They source their own beans and serve it up in a modernist setting. Super classy!
- Contraband Coffee Bar: you can find their coffee at spots around town or just visit their SOMA location or Nob Hill one where the roasting magic happens.
- Flywheel Coffee Roasters: he got his start at another coffee company but now Aquiles is roasting fresh in the Haight.
- Martha & Bros. Coffee Company: no list would be complete without them. They've been doing it since 1987 for goodness sakes and they are still an SF only fave.
There you have it, twelve spots you can check out as an alternative to the behemoth that is now, or soon will be, Blue Bottle Coffee. This is by no means a complete list for sure as there are a larger than normal collection of coffee roasters in and around the Bay Area. And I'm not even talking about those chains we all know and secretly still go to when they seem to be easily convenient and nearby (on every single corner). San Francisco is just a hotbed of coffee as we have an inordinate amount of people who need to get their caffeine fix on, something I am totally on board with.
So I say relax you supportive of local businesses coffee drinkers and just take a breath. While you might think you'll miss that special slow drip on Farmer's Market Saturdays at the Ferry Building, there are plenty of other roasters around town who super hyper local and more than happy to welcome you into their fold of local, organic, sustainable coffee bean-a-palooza. Leave Blue Bottle to the tourists now and just find your way to another favorite SF roaster. I did offer twelve options, hopefully that will hold you for awhile, at least until they sell out and you have to move on to the next one on the list. The circle of coffee life my peeps--drink on!