Andrew Freeman & Co.
Third Wave coffee has done a good job at closing the door behind it, leaving companies like Peet's and that one with the mermaid to seem like lumbering giants better at pushing dark-roast concoctions on malls in Orinda rather cultivating a purer appreciation of coffee. It's patently untrue, of course: Peet's was founded in Berkeley, and Blue Bottle clearly has galactic-conquest aspirations. But the battle lines are drawn. Small-scale roastery Mr. Espresso doesn't easily map onto them, having been roasting beans over oak in Oakland since 1978 for high-end cafes such as Coffee Bar and restaurants such as Perbacco or flour + water. I got the chance to look at the facility and glean some wisdom from a family-run business devoted to yielding the perfect Neapolitan cup as flawlessly as any temple to coffee on Valencia Street.