A year ago or so, owner Phil Jabar started serving coffee as Philz at the former Gateway Market at Folsom & 24th Sts. This newer location opened more recently early 2006), and it has as loyal a local following as the original shop. Walking up to this place, locals told me on the street, "You MUST try their coffee!" Inside there is dingy, used furniture: sofas, school desks, mistmatched chairs. And piles of roasted coffee. At $11.95/lb, I inquired about what beans were in their Heavenly Blend, which looked interesting on sight. Phil?s son, behind the counter, told me, "I don?t know what beans - it?s a mixture of light and dark roasts." Big trouble right there. And this is a place the SF Weekly recently called "best local coffee blend"? They host Tue, Thur, and Sunday coffee tastings from 2-5pm, but what?s the point of a wine tasting if all you learn you?re drinking is 'red' or 'white'?
If you can get past the fact that they tend to describe their blends with only adjectives rather than any nouns (?!), Philz serves good drip coffee - and in single-serving drip filters (a rare find around SF). Bean sales and showmanship for drip coffee seems to be their specialty, as it's certainly not espresso. Using a two-group La Spaziale with the portafilter handles left out cooling on the drip tray, they pull shots with absolutely no crema. It's jet black and served in a regular coffee cup. Not surprisingly, it tastes ashy and tarry with some bitterness. Stick to things like Turkish and Arabic coffee. But espresso at "Reno's" answer to the Sunset's Alvin's and House of Coffee? Run, don't walk, away. Make no mistake: when it comes to espresso, Philz suckz. [CLOSED as of June 2007: apparently Phil's business relationship here went as south and sour as their espresso.]