Ben Kaminsky of Ritual Coffee in SF speaks the truth about top-end specialty coffee shops and why those of us who specialize in single-origin coffees and promote manual brewing have a love-hate relationship with lattes.
Clara and Sam have college classes. Max has a play he's in up in New Ken this week. Rich has a contract job in Connecticut from Wed-Fri. Neither Lois or Jess has availability in the afternoons. Meaning we don't have enough people to staff late afternoons and do everything else that needs to be done here.
Thus we'll be closing at 4pm all this week, 2pm on Sunday. There WILL be Sunday brunch - this week's origin country theme is Colombia. We'll be closing right after brunch service.
There are an estimated quarter million children under age 14 working cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. An estimated 10% of whom are classified as 'forced labor' or slaves. Figures from various reporting agencies may put those numbers higher or lower, but the fact is, there's a problem, both with potentially harmful child labor and definitely harmful child slavery.
It's a problem that's been discussed ad naseum but without solid progress. In 2001, Senators Tom Harkin and Eliot Engel drafted a measure which would become known as the Cocoa Protocol. It was agreed to by the major players in the cocoa industry, including Hershey's, Nestle, Mars, Kraft, Cadbury, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, among others.
Ten years after the protocal was signed, of that group it can be argued that only Cadbury shows significant progress in doing something about the problem. Others have made some progress.
And one company seemingly hasn't done much of anything: Hershey's.
Hey there... if you're looking for our physical store, we closed as of November 15, 2011. The space is under new ownership as Orbis Caffe, still serving delicious coffee and food with great service. We hope you'll give them a try. For info on Melanie and Rich, follow @aldo_mel or @richwesterfield or visit accidentalroaster.com.
Coffee Kids A charity we support that improves the quality of life for children in coffee-growing regions around the world.
CoffeeGeek Reviews on gadgetry and techniques for the home brewing enthusiast.
Coffee Review Connosieur Ken David and friends review and rate various coffees, including offerings served at Aldo Coffee Company from Intelligentsia Cofee Roasters like the fabulous espresso blend Black Cat.
Bitter Press Jess from Intelligentsia uses science to explain things.
Heroes & Legends
Murky Coffee (NoVa) Retailer (non-roaster) who's one of the best indie shops on the East Coast. Features selection of top roasters and pulls only ristrettos. No drip - Americanos and press pots only.
Stumptown (Portland, OR) Along with Intelligentsia, probably the most acclaimed coffee roaster in the US. A certifiable Coffee Mecca that's turned Portland into the quality coffee capital of the Pacific Northwest.
Espresso Vivace (Seattle) David Schomer is widely acknowledged as a perfectionist. Espresso Vivace is home to his science and art.
Intelligentsia (Chicago) Our coffee source and one of the most highly acclaimed roasters in US. Taught us most everything we know (although we think they're still holding back some secrets).
Joe The Art of Coffee (NYC) Preposterous name, but consistently ranked among top espresso joints in New York, which has to mean something, no?
Caffe Vittoria (Boston) OK, maybe it's not the best espresso in Boston. But Vittoria is a great North End experience. A riot of noise, cappuccino, cannoli and sambuca. This is Rich's dream joint. Except with better coffee.
Blue Bottle (SF) Beans microroasted fresh daily and whatever doesn't sell today is tossed. Has raised the bar for every other joint in the Bay Area.
Peets (Berkeley/SF) Alfred Peet is often called "the grandfather of the specialty coffee industry". Started in 1966, Peets continues to have a loyal following, despite tons of regional competition.
George Howell's Terroir (Boston) George's Coffee Connection was specialty coffee in New England for years. Then he sold out to the dark empire. Now he's back with Terroir, identifying and promoting single source coffees. No stores yet, only whole bean sales.
Gimme! Coffee (Ithaca/NYC) Gimme! was among the first Eastern shops to rival the best in the PNW. Born in Ithaca, they're now in Brooklyn, Chelsea Market and LES.
Simon's (Boston) Cambridge, MA, used to be home to Jaime VanSchyndel, barista provocateur. Not sure if they're still what they were when Jaime was on bar, but it's likely still the best cup in Boston.
Caffe Artigiano (Vancouver, BC) Two time Canadian Barista Champ Sammy Piccolo and his roaster brother Vince have put Artigiano in the heads of espresso geeks worldwide. They cornered the market on 2005 Brazil CoE Santa Ines to ensure their proper place on the quality map.