My friend Lyle is mildly obsessed with coffee. If it's daylight outside, there is usually a paper take away cup filled with the black, caffeinated liquid within a two-and-a-half foot radius of him. I haven't measured his wingspan. I'm just telling you it's nearly always within his reach. Or nestled in a cup holder inside his car. The other night at work, he announced he was going to The Blue Bottle Coffee Co. the next day and was taking orders. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked what the big deal was. He mentioned that they happened to serve the best frigging coffee in the city. Only I am not certain he used that precise word.
The next afternoon, after a little bit of directional confusion for which I blame my own genetics and short attention span, I found my way to tiny Linden Street, the block known unofficially as The Artists Alley. I saw a crowd of about fifteen people not-too-neatly queued up in front of what looked like a garage. Lyle was there, off to the side reading a magazine; the remnants of something brown and foamy making its way gradually to the bottom of a little glass in front of him. "Order a Gibraltar," he said. That's what he had been drinking while waiting for me. I did as I was told, but I wanted to try their coffee, too. The line wasn't terribly long-- I waited about five minutes for my Gibraltar (which is basically a very short latte with just a titch of foam and, I believe, named after the glass in which it is served) and my cup of drip coffee (one size only, thank you). I threw in a few cookies for good measure and snapped a few photos.
The Gibraltar was good. Very good. I carefully sipped at it a couple of times-- creamy, well balanced and rich. I was happy. I thought about swirling it about in the glass as I one might do wine, but the glass is too small and I worried about the likely coffee stains down my shirt and crotch. I headed back to my apartment with Lyle to drink our drip coffee in relative comfort. By relative, I mean in a chair. By chair, I mean a piece of furniture with four legs and perhaps a bit of padding-- Blue Bottle has one plywood bench that I believe may have at one time been a seventh grader's midterm wood shop project. Such is the Blue Bottle's charm. I can't say I can blame them for not encouraging people to lounge-- the demand for their coffee can be fierce (they regularly sell out of their bags of whole beans)-- especially on weekends.