Eat Real Festival 2013 – Coffee

bennett does the blue bottle roastery tour

The organizers of this year’s Eat Real Festival decided to group all of the coffee folks together into a “Coffee Pavilion”, which included Blue Bottle Coffee, Ritual Coffee Roasters, The Bicycle Coffee Company, Bloom (a new coffee delivery service), Barefoot Coffee Roasters, Roast Co, and Mr. Espresso.  Sweet Maria’s also joined in with some home roasting demonstrations.  All of the good stuff in one place – Jack London Square, Oakland, California.


Blue Bottle was offering tours of their roastery, which is only 2 blocks away from Jack London Square.  After going over the history of the company, Bennett served samples of their 3 Africans blend to the audience, brewed in a Chemex:

bennett does the blue bottle roastery tour

Bennett described how coffee cherries are processed and showed a few examples of beans that had been wet and dry-processed.bennett does the blue bottle roastery tour

bennett does the blue bottle roastery tour

The tour continued with a description of the roasting process (2 giant Probat roasters in this case) and then a visit to the barista training lab, where Bennett described the training process and explained some of the training equipment.


Back at the festival, Chris from Ritual Coffee Roasters gave an Aeropress demonstration in the coffee pavilion, which had been decorated with coffee-themed posters by Bloom.

coffee posters by bloom ready

Chris showed off his favorite Aeropress recipe.  16 grams of beans (I believe he was using their El Angel from Costa Rica):chris does a ritual roasters aeropress demo

with a grind somewhere between a drip and espresso.  He put 2 paper filters in the Aeropress for more back-pressure and then poured water that had been off of a boil for a few minutes.chris does a ritual roasters aeropress demoHe sealed the Aeropress by just barely putting the plunger in, then let it rest for 60 seconds.  After 60 seconds, he agitated the bloom with a spoon, and then waited another 60 seconds (I think?) before finally plunging: chris does a ritual roasters aeropress demoIt was a great cup.  Fairly fruit-forward with sweet tart notes that got stronger as the coffee cooled.


Ritual’s Sputnik is usually a fixture at the festival, but they were not allowed to bring the trailer to this year’s festival due to some Alameda County restrictions.  But the baristas were cool with it:

ritual roasters

I wanted to have some of Bicycle Coffee’s nitro brew and something from Barefoot, but I was already too wound up on caffeine to have any more..

barefoot coffee

Eat Real Fest 2011 Part 1 – Blue Bottle Coffee, Ritual Coffee, and Beauty’s Bagel

I once again took photos for this year’s Eat Real Festival, held in Oakland’s Jack London Square from September 23-25, 2011.  This post is the first of many from the festival.  (Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6) The event’s organizers had a fully packed schedule and there were a lot of really interesting things to photograph.

One of the things that I noticed this year was that there were more hands-on activities.  There was a DIY Make-it area and a DIY Eat-it area complete with a community oven, sponsored by King Arthur Flour (I am a fan).

Coffee Brewing with Blue Bottle Coffee

One of the first DIY activities was a coffee brewing workshop put on by the fine folks at Blue Bottle coffee, who roast their beans only a few blocks away.  4 of their training staff led a workshop on making coffee with paper filters and their Bonmac ceramic drippers.








 Benjamin Brewer started the talk by giving an overview of the process and continued to make key points as each of the other trainers demonstrated their drip-brewing processes.






The coffee grounds were precisely weighed on digital scales to ensure a coffee to water ratio of 1:10 in the cup.  “In the cup” is a key phrase, Benjamin explained.  The coffee grounds absorb a fair amount of hot water and thus a little extra hot water needs to be added to the filter to achieve a 1:10 ratio in the cup.








Benjamin emphasized freshness – the beans in the demo were only between 1-3 days old.  After the beans were weighed, the trainers took turns grinding them and bringing the grounds back to their table.









Hot water was poured in via goose-necked pitchers until the target weight was reached.  In the above photo, Brian demonstrated when to pull the dripper away before guiding attendees in brewing their own drip coffee.





I stepped outside after this workshop to make my way to the DIY Eat-it area, where Beauty’s Bagels were putting on a bagel workshop.

Third-wave coffee was well represented at the festival.  Ritual Roasters‘ always-photogenic coffee trailer, Sputnik was there once again.

 Bagel making with  Beauty’s Bagel

Oakland’s Beauty’s Bagel led a DIY workshop where they showed how to make their Montreal-style bagels.  They had premade and proofed the dough and workshop attendees floured up their hands and got to rolling their own bagels after watching a quick demo.

Here’s Blake Joffe cutting up the dough for the first demonstration.  They used King Arthur’s high gluten flour (14.2% protein content)  for maximum chewiness.



Some bagel recipes call for creating balls and poking holes through them to create their distinctive shape, but here Amy Remsen rolls them out and creates a loop.


Completed demo bagels.





After they created a few demo bagels, the audience members were invited to get involved and create their own.





Meanwhile, things were getting started with the wood-burning oven

Various bagels rolled by various bagel-makers.  The bagels were then boiled in honey-water and thrown into the oven.



















list of bay area coffee shops – with a bay area coffee map

here’s my subjective ranking of the best espresso/coffee in the san francisco bay area, complete with a google map.

[googlemap width=”640″ height=”480″ src=”,-122.306671&spn=0.2689835,0.371824&z=11&output=embed”]

key: more crema = better.  empty cup =  not so good.  Sorry about the funky anti-aliasing.



not bad:

drinkable but not pleasant:

  • farley’s (san francisco/oakland/emervyille, farley’s blend from sunshine? in san leandro)  Recently had a not good one from the 65th st emeryville location.  doh.
  • peerless (oakland, peerless)
  • woody’s cafe (oakland, ?)
  • crepevine (oakland/berkeley, ?)
  • riva (berkeley, ?)
  • starbucks (starbucks)
  • peets (peets)
  • uncommon grounds cafe (berkeley, uncommon grounds)

not drinkable:

  • none yet.  Maybe I have a high tolerance?

credit for working the google maps/wordpress hack: if you want to try this, don’t forget to add the &embed at the end of your link.

a ride to pt. reyes station

We finally got back on the bike and did a long ride last weekend.  ~88 miles to Pt. Reyes Station and back.

fog in the morning in the Presidio:

fog on the golden gate bridge too, of course.  It cleared up as soon as we were finished crossing.

The Nicasio reservoir.  Our group split soon after – we went to Pt. Reyes Station, the rest to Petaluma and then Santa Rosa.

Old St. Mary’s church + Corvette

Riding back across the bridge that afternoon was a little hairy and a little wet, but this scene was absolutely wild:

this part was a bit scary with the tourists and the fog:

Chrissy field on the way back:

Latte at Blue Bottle in the Ferry Building to end the day:

Espresso at Blue Bottle, Local 123 and Farley’s East

I recently checked out Local 123 (2049 San Pablo Avenue Berkeley, CA) and Farley’s East (33 Grand Avenue Oakland, CA).  I also finally got around to visiting the blue bottle cafe near jack london square (300 Webster St Oakland, CA)

blue bottle cafe

espresso with blue bottle

the ristretto was predictably enjoyable – bright and with a bit of sweetness that lingered.  I also had a sandwich with meat from boccalone and some cookie to go with.  the space is nice – well-lit with natural light but pretty small  – there’s a cupping area and then more space in the back for bags and bags of coffee bean storage and roasting.

local 123

Local 123 is just south of University Ave on San Pablo – near Lanesplitter and Acme.

pretty rosetta
espresso in the patio

(apologies for the iphone photos)

local 123 brews flying goat coffee and they made a tasty ristretto.   I don’t remember details of the taste other than the fact that I really enjoyed it.  the two people working there who we interacted with were super friendly and the barista offered another shot if this one wasn’t to my liking.  the space is nice, with big prints of tasteful and uncheesy square-formatted naturey photos and a nice outdoor seating area.

farley’s east

they pull bottomless shots here from a la marzocco.  The espresso was not bad, but not as good as I’d enjoyed from local 123 and blue bottle.  compared to the two shots above, this one tasted a little staler and darker.  still not bad though.  they use beans roasted by sunrise coffee in san leandro.

espresso from farley's east

I liked their interior and the magazine selection and the friendly person at the counter who took my order.  I got a cold turkey sandwich – it was good.  there’s fun art on the walls and deception by blackalicious was playing as I picked up my sandwich.

it was a monday and the bakesale betty nearby was closed for the day.  I wonder how much more business area cafes receive on mondays and if there’s a correlation.  the windows of the subway next door were still broken as a result of the opportunistic rioting that took place after the mehserle verdict was announced.

subway window, broken

I saw quite a few windows being repaired in Oakland today:

window repair

miam.miam in rockridge to serve blue bottle coffee; scream sorbet opening soon in temescal

update: you can expect to see some wild-looking mugs at miam.maim:

yet-to-open cafe/lounge miam.miam (5856 college ave)  just posted a huge blue bottle banner in their window.  after having a banner in the window promising frozen yogurt in “summer 2009” and then “holiday 2009” from peeks into their front door, it looks like they’re finally getting closer to opening.   The huge banner is a little misleading – the size of it makes you think that blue bottle is actually opening at that location, but not so.

Bittersweet, just down the street also serves blue bottle (or at least they did last time I was there), so miam.miam isn’t alone.

this gets me to thinking – blue bottle’s got a pretty strong brand going if cafes are clamoring to serve their coffee and use it in their advertising, right?

on a slightly related note, scream sorbet is opening up a shop at 51st and telegraph in temescal (5030 telegraph ave), 2 doors down from bakesale betty.  they’re scheduled to open in June, according to a not-fake poster.

they’ve got a hilarious set of fake posters in the window:

scream sorbet posters

hilarious fake ads and websites:

squidazzle!  Bringing squid and squid-based technologies to the greater bay area since early 2010.  We’ll make you aware what the squid has to share”

the root seller: your year-roud source for roots and tubers”

“the mauve emporium: love mauve? so do we!  finally, the store that’s nothing but mauve.  If it’s arguably mauve… we’ve got it!”

TROUGH: food by the minute – Grand opening special!!! Only $9.99 for 10 minutes!  That’s less than a dollar a minute!!” (looks like landing page is broken)

MARZIPAN MADNESS – The DIY almond paste sensation that’s sweeping the nation!”

bike and coffee shops in new york (part 1)

I was in New York for work a couple of weeks ago and decided to take some time off to wander in the city.  I embarked on a self-guided tour of bike shops and coffee shops in brooklyn and manhattan (with the much-appreciated help of Anita from Brooklyn by Bike who led me to the New York Times Interactive Coffee Map) and took a bunch of pictures.  whenever possible, images were shot at ISO 50 and wide open, just because.

front counter of recycle a bicycle

I asked about bike rentals and bikesnobnyc was kind enough to suggest that I check out recycle a bicycle.  I went to their DUMBO location (Recycle A Bicycle, 35 Pearl St, Brooklyn)  They had only two bikes available and this is the one I got:

cruiser from recycle a bicycle

Chris from the shop hooked me up with the free official NYC cycling map.

I took a few pictures outside:

shredded paper, DUMBO

and along the way.  It felt weird trying to balance on this bike – it had a coaster brake and I wasn’t used to the way-upright handlebars.   Riding the cruiser kind of made the ride more enjoyable, though, because it allowed me to just kick back at a slower pace and enjoy the ride.

brooklyn BEEF
dalai lama stencil - and of course, a BNE sticker

and then pedaled towards Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint.

williamsburg st bike lane
kent ave bike lane. I've got to say, I'm really digging the bright green.
this wall is at Kent and Metropolitan

the weather was ridiculously beautiful.

Cafe Grumpy front counter

the espresso at Cafe Grumpy (193 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn, NY)  was good and the people very friendly.

cafe grumpy (greenpoint) espresso. I couldn't resist and took a sip before taking the picture.
roasting at cafe grumpy

Cafe Grumpy was larger than I expected.  It was relatively crowded with people working on their laptops and they had a beautiful bathroom window:

cafe grumpy bathroom window. it was pretty. I couldn't help it.

I headed towards B’s bike shop (262 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn, NY) next in Williamsburg.

took a picture along the way:

but hey, what's up with that frame?
B's Bikes: counter

B’s Bikes was a crowded little shop that seemed to be getting a lot of business.  I told the people inside about my plans for the day and they happily mentioned a few neat bike shops in Manhattan to check out.

B's Bikes: repair stand

I rode the cruiser down to King Kog (455 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn, NY) next:

King Kog bike shop
Inside King Kog

There was definitely a different vibe here with more bike-lifestyle items on the shelves including a hilarious “One Less Messenger” t-shirt.

Next stop: Blue Bottle (160 Berry Street, Brooklyn, NY).  I live in Oakland, CA, and wanted to see what Blue Bottle was doing on the East Coast:

Blue Bottle Coffee, Williamsburg

I was really impressed by the size of their space.  The natural light was great.  They roast in the back.  I’ve been to their kiosk in Hayes Valley in SF, the Cafe at Mint Plaza, their Ferry Building location, their old roastery in Emeryville and their farmers market in Temescal.  This space was absolutely huge in comparison.

Blue Bottle Coffee: La Marzocco
Blue Bottle Coffee: oji cold brew array

There were quite a few people hanging outside too, enjoying the coffee and the weather:

Blue Bottle Coffee: hangin outside on Berry st

Part 2 to come.