This review is specifically for Blue Bottle Cafe's single origin Ethiopian Sidamo brewed from their two-group, manual BOSCO machine. (Also see the review of their "usual" espresso.)
Located at a bend in Jesse St. in the Mint Plaza alleyway, it's a bright space with tall ceilings and tall windows that look out on Jesse and Mint Sts. Along the windows is a series of stools with counter seating. Inside there is limited seating at the siphon bar and one long, high table surrounded by stools. Of course the emphasis is coffee in all its various forms. But there are very worthy breakfast, brunch, and dessert menus here. For their 'routine' espresso blends (rated here), they use a three-group La Marzocco GB/5.
In addition to their "regular" espresso shots, Blue Bottle Cafe offers weekly single origin espresso shots - served from a dedicated, Napoli-manufactured, two-group, manual Bosco machine. (But only after 10am to avoid the morning crush.)What's reviewed here is their dry-processed Ethiopian Sidamo. While most single origin espresso shots have one-dimensional flavor profiles, weaker crema, and thinner body, this shot bucks the trend. It has a rather impressive dynamic range, a well-rounded flavor profile, a solid crema, and a full body. This when we were expecting a dry-processed, wild-tasting Ethiopian with some potential floral and citrus notes. James Freeman told us that barista works the Bosco machine to about 9-bars of pressure to get the right impression on the coffee and bring out these broader effects. And a result is a tiger-striped crema of a relatively rich and very even consistency accompanied by a primarily pungent flavor with a honey-sweet edge.
The siphon bar (also after 10am) is also a nice touch for vacuum pot coffees - each paired with a sweet confection. The siphon bar represents an artist's worthy challenge to the push-button Clover machine for making superior brewed coffee. There's even Kyoto cold-brewed coffee - the first in SF. Milk-based drinks are also excellent: the cappuccino is modestly sized and comes with a detailed, textured, latte art heart. Slacker purists can sulk "sell out!" all they want at this coffee cathedral - this is a true coffee destination for the city.