Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Blue Bottle Roastery & Café

Under the cool summer fog at Oakland's notorious Jack London Square, forklifts are heard loading vegetables, and the streets are cluttered with produce and packed with small and large trucks. Besides the tourist hot spot near the harbor and the restaurants and clubs that dapple the area, this part of Oakland remains primarily industrial, its blocks forged by long warehouses, out-of-use factories and new'ish apartment complexes. However, in the midst of this bustling is the Blue Bottle roastery and café, a place to sit, collect one's thoughts and sip a fairly new trend in coffee enjoyment—artisan specialty coffee.

Baristas are trained in specific techniques to produce the best results from beans served within 48 hours of roasting, a time interval that allows for peak flavor. In fact, this is the best attribute to the high-priced, individually prepared drip coffee and espresso.

Photograph by Deldelp Medina
On this visit, I tried their Roman Espresso and was surprised at the shockingly fruity flavor, a taste so noticeable, I imagine, that even the tongue buds of an unexperienced coffee aficionado will flare at the touch of the foamy crema. The rich fruity espresso is served with a small glass of San Benedetto Italian sparkling mineral water to cleanse the palette.

It is this espresso, and general freshness of their coffee, that will keep me coming back. As a former barista, I know that coffee is roasted and delivered to most cafés within that 48 hour peak period, but it can, and depending on demand often will, sit on a shelf for up to a week before being served. It is Blue Bottle's dedication to freshness that makes the experience a local favorite and a worthwhile trip for any visiting coffee connoisseur.

The fresh, trendtastic specialty coffee is only the first reason to visit. The Blue Bottle Roastery also imbues other essentials: floor to ceiling windows wrap the café, making all sitting areas prone to long, pleasurable stares into space; the staff is friendly and unpretentious; and the atmosphere is very conducive to sitting and letting great ideas flow as the bustle of the surrounding world fades to a hum.

It is a great place to go alone, a favorite mug from home in hand. And it makes a special treat for out-of-town guests on an early Sunday morning or late weekend afternoon. Blue Bottle isn't just a specialty coffee house but is also a neighborhood establishment, a place to bask in the glory of caffeine, enjoy the view and ultimately share the experience with close friends.


  1. Thanks for introducing us to this place! I'm especially happy that they use Michael Recchiuti chocolate for their mochas, the second best chocolate in the world.