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For My Morning Coffee via San Francisco and New Orleans

There aren’t many things that I need consistently to start my morning off right but coffee is for sure one of them. No matter where I am in the world or what time I wake up a proper cup of coffee is necessary for my migraine brain and the physical safety of those around me.

Coffee isn’t simply a cup of Joe to me. I cannot buy Folder’s (I assume they still make this) off the self in a grocery store and claim “it is the best part about waking up”.  Gladly my father no longer does either. Actually his habit was worse. I grew up seeing cans of “Chock Full of O’Nuts” on my kitchen counter. I am scarred from that yellow can. In its place there are now similar yellow colored cans but at least they say “Café du Monde”.

I don’t know what it is exactly about the French that draws me into their web but I am hooked. I love the food, the country, the people, and even their bulldogs. Something about my soul is inexplicably French and I am proud of it.

So it is no wonder that when I visit one of my favorite domestic cities, New Orleans, that my first stop is to Café du Monde. When I took my family there for Thanksgiving in 2008 I got my father hooked too. For a long time we were shipping the coffee to Brooklyn from Louisiana. Now I am happy to report stores like Whole Foods and others sell them locally but I am pretty sure Amazon has those prices beat. I don’t remember right off hand but every Father’s Day, birthday, and Christmas I am reminded as my brother and I give him the gift of caffeine.

You may be saying to yourself, “what is so great about New Orleans coffee?” I would have to say many things but specifically their Chicory blends. Since 1862 Café du Monde has been open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week closing on major holidays only. They serve their coffee black or au lait (mixed half and half with hot milk). In 1988 the Café began selling their iced coffee. While shipping it is good in a pinch there really isn’t anything like sitting in that infamous market sipping their piping hot (or cold) coffee trying to eat a beignet without getting white powder all over yourself. I now realize my blog about New Orleans is LONG overdue.

I bring up my love for New Orleans and their coffee because that was the inspiration for my visit to Blue Bottle for the first time this past weekend. The shop was originally opened fifteen years ago in San Francisco. Now it has become so popular there are shops popping up all around us. Luckily for me there are two in Brooklyn within close proximity to my home.

Creator and owner James Freeman had a simple plan for success: “I will only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster to my guests, so they may enjoy coffee at peak flavor. I will only use the finest, most delicious, and responsibly sourced beans.” He goes so far that the coffee is tasted every day to make sure it meets the standards to which his customers have become accustomed to.

On my first trip to Blue Bottle I have to say presentation is everything. There is only a blue bottle on the outside signifying the name of the shop. The inside is small but well situated. The counter displays a few small snacks with the coffee menu off to the right. On the left, towards the door, are the materials you need to perfect your beverage (i.e. sugars, spoons, etc.). The staff of three I encountered was helpful but it seemed a bit much considering the space.

Naturally I ordered the New Orleans Style Cold Brew. I had been reading about it everywhere and I couldn’t wait to see what the fuss was all about. This coffee is described as “stout and creamy with caramelized flavors of chicory root”. It sounded good enough to try. I also bought some kind of fudge/coconut hybrid cookie.

The coffee was good. Not too strong (at first) and not too sweet. I could tell it was different than a typical coffee you could get at any Starbucks or local deli. I had a small but after a little less than half my stomach gave it up. It became too much acid for me to digest. I didn’t even save it for later because I knew there was no time in the future where I could have sucked that down. There was so much richness in that little cup. It is the first experience like this I have ever had with coffee. I guess now I can relate to those who have one caffeinated drink and start trembling. The cookie was okay but warrants no separate analysis. I was left thinking this was a coffee I needed to train for. Meaning I would need a little every day to build up my tolerance but I can see why word of mouth is so good.

Top Chef and former “Best Thing I Ever Ate” panelist, Chris Cosentino, has been singing Blue Bottle’s praises for several years now. As a San Francisco native he is well aware of the best and brightest his city has to offer.

Chris said: "Blue Bottle is my regular stop. I cannot live without the Kyoto-style iced coffee. It almost has barrel age notes to it as if you’re drinking aged bourbons and whiskeys. You experience flavors drinking it like you would find in wine or spirits that you don’t normally gather from coffees. It’s like somebody saying, ’That’s a full-bodied red.’ This is a full-bodied iced coffee."

As a San Francisco lover myself I can attest that it is definitely a foodie destination.

As a Blue Bottle customer I can say this is not coffee for the faint of heart.

With my first Blue Bottle experience behind me, I am now proud to say it has been crossed off of my 2016/2017 to do list (

It is a mystery to me no more.

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