Coffee News: A Look at Blue Bottle's New Oakland Spot, Barista Competitions, and The Mill's Parklet
After sprouting in Oakland just over a decade ago, having now stretched its arms wide across the country, Blue Bottle is coming back home. Last week, the company opened up a new spot on a stretch of Oakland heavy with auto shops and fenced-in corridors, bringing with it whimsical siphons and a sleek sound system that give a turn of the century building a new lease on life. The spot is the old W.C. Morse building -- a lofting space with worn-down tiles and an industrial history -- and sits only a hop and a skip from Blue Bottle's flagship location.
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The design is clean, white, and modern. The clear plastic sheeting that sections off a coffee lab and machine repair station salutes the building's former mechanically flavored life as an old truck showroom. Twenty-foot ceilings suspend a giant, state-of-the-art sound system, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls spill daylight into the white expanse. Liege waffles and steel-cut oats share the menu with a light spread of pastries. Also on deck, the Shakerato (espresso, ice, simple syrup), a Cascara Fizz, and a Sowden Soft Brew Au Lait (no spoilers here, you'll just have to go get it).
Not to be missed: the Big Western Coffee Competition is coming up this weekend. The competition, one of three trisecting the country, pits Northwest and Southwest coffee pros against each other in a set of organized competitions that include tasting and brewing coffee, pouring latté art, and performing a full barista routine (fifteen minutes of boggling culinary pageantry). Watch the bloodthirsty action here. Bay Area contenders include Justin Williams of Front Coffee, and Charlie Biando of Blue Bottle.
Additionally, now that Alchemy Collective Café has settled into its new, expanded space on Alcatraz in Berkeley, it's finally rolling out a food menu. The collective is starting simple, with St. Benoit yogurt and Starter Bakery granola, as well as toast with options of lemon and herb butter or fig and blue cheese. More items are in the works.
In case you've forgotten, Wrecking Ball co-founder Nick Cho is combating the Steampunk coffee brewer in a Man vs. Machine coffee-brewing battle this Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the Lamill Coffee Roastery in Alhambra. Event starts at 3 p.m., competition at 4 p.m., followed by a BBQ (keg included) around 5. Cho's weapon of choice is the pourover, and Alpha Dominche founder Khristian Bombek will brew cup for cup against him on the Steampunk precision brewer.
In other news, $4 toast continues to colonize the city, square foot by square foot -- The Mill is in the full swing of building out a parklet. The project has been underway in some way or another since the spot opened a year ago, and puts the café in company with partner Four Barrel as one of the only spots in town to have one.