Four Barrel Coffee
History: Jeremy Tooker is something of a big name in the coffee-roasting world. He’s been feted by Food and Wine magazine as one of 40 big food thinkers under 40, and his geek-level pedigree includes the cofounding of Ritual Coffee Roasters as well as time with Portland’s iconic Stumptown. Naturally, the buzz was big when he opened Four Barrel in 2008. Despite some early backlash against its hipster baristas and cooler-than-thou attitude, Four Barrel has secured a place in SF’s coffee hall of fame, and Tooker has gone on to expand his empire, which now includes a popular bakery-coffee collaboration with Josey Baker Bread, called The Mill.
Favorites: Local fans (and they are legion) rave on Yelp about “the smooth, bold flavors of the espresso,” which is “delicious with very little, almost nonexistent, bitter finish”—so start with that. If you want to take something home, you can’t go wrong with the fruity, sweet Guatemala Antigua Pompeya or the clean, warmly rounded Guatemala Antigua Chuito. Browse the Four Barrel website for more info on its single-origin offerings.
Not Just the Joe: Four Barrel doesn’t just care about what you drink in its shops, it also cares about what you drink at home. That’s why its self-proclaimed resident coffee nerd, Alex Powar, teaches evening classes on how to brew better coffee. Students learn to properly use scales and various brewing equipment (such as a Chemex, a Clever dripper, and a Hario V60), and go home with a discount to the store’s shop. If you do choose to come into any of the locations for a barista-brewed cup, don’t bother bringing your laptop. There’s no Wi-Fi and no plugs, just lots of interesting people to get to know over a steaming cup of coffee.