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curtrowe
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Posted Sat Aug 30, 2008, 9:07am
Subject: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

I finally found a cafe to get good espresso on the San Francisco mid-peninsula.  It's Plantation Coffee Roastery at  668 Laurel St., San Carlos, CA. The phone is (650) 592-3710.  They're in the first block South of San Carlos Avenue.  They do their own roasting in what looks to be a 20 kilo Probat.  It's been there for years, but I've never noticed it before.  I had a double espresso that was much better than I've had from any other cafe from Palo Alto to San Mateo to Half Moon Bay although my search hasn't been exhaustive.  I prefer darker roasts for my espresso so if you like the brightness of a lighter roast, this place might not be to your taste.  On the other hand, I didn't ask if they had any other roasts.  I can't speak to their consistency as I've only been there once.
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GaryH
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Posted Wed Sep 10, 2008, 2:10pm
Subject: Re: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

curtrowe Said:

I finally found a cafe to get good espresso on the San Francisco mid-peninsula.  It's Plantation Coffee Roastery at  668 Laurel St., San Carlos, CA. The phone is (650) 592-3710.  They're in the first block South of San Carlos Avenue.  They do their own roasting in what looks to be a 20 kilo Probat.  It's been there for years, but I've never noticed it before.  I had a double espresso that was much better than I've had from any other cafe from Palo Alto to San Mateo to Half Moon Bay although my search hasn't been exhaustive.  I prefer darker roasts for my espresso so if you like the brightness of a lighter roast, this place might not be to your taste.  On the other hand, I didn't ask if they had any other roasts.  I can't speak to their consistency as I've only been there once.

Posted August 30, 2008 link


I love to visit different coffee houses so I made my way over to the Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos on Sept 10. Probat roaster in the back of the coffee house. I ordered a double espresso, which they promptly pulled in a paper to-go cup.

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GaryH
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Posted Wed Sep 10, 2008, 2:11pm
Subject: Re: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

I requested that the espresso to be pulled directly into a china cup. After rolling their eyes they were willing to do that. It must have been an unusual request because it took two baristas to accomplish that. It took about 30 seconds to pull this 6oz double espresso. It tasted like a strong coffee with some minor carbon taste. I guess the large volume reduced the carbon concentration so the coffee was actually quite drinkable. Maybe they like to pull 6oz doubles because than they have to use less milk to make lattes and thus save money. I noticed this doserless Rocky on the counter.

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GaryH
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Posted Wed Sep 10, 2008, 2:11pm
Subject: Re: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

After visiting Craptation, on my way back to San Jose, I visited a nice bakery located in Woodside to pick up some cherry turnovers. For years they used a large superautomatic to make espressos, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they got rid of the superauto and replaced it with this LM espresso machine with Swift grinder (most stores get rid of the semi auto espresso machine and get a superauto). The barista pulled this freebee double espresso. Nice pour! Espresso doesnít look too interesting but it had nice acidity with fruit and nice complexity in the bottom of the cup. Definitely much better espresso than the one I had at Plantation 30 minutes earlier. But it might have been a fluke because they are primarily a bakery and not a coffee house.

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GaryH
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Posted Wed Sep 10, 2008, 2:12pm
Subject: Re: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

On my way home I stopped by Barefoot to pick up some coffee beans. I had this absolutely amazing tasty Harrar double ristretto. Now thatís what a coffeegeek really wants. Tasted even better than shots Iíve had at Blue Bottle, Four Barrel and Ritual located in San Francisco. So thatís saying something.

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alsterling
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alsterling
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Posted Thu Sep 11, 2008, 10:14pm
Subject: Re: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

GaryH Said:

On my way home I stopped by Barefoot to pick up some coffee beans. I had this absolutely amazing tasty Harrar double ristretto. Now thatís what a coffeegeek really wants. Tasted even better than shots Iíve had at Blue Bottle, Four Barrel and Ritual located in San Francisco. So thatís saying something.

Posted September 10, 2008 link

And therein lies my opinion of what is necessary for a truly good coffeehouse; consistency. My wife and I stopped at Barefoot yesterday, Sept. 10th, on the return leg of a biz trip. Sorry that we haven't crossed paths lately. I enjoyed your company from the first visit we did nearly a year ago. And Gary, I wish I could share your enthusiasm for checking out espresso spots, but as I mentioned in a post to the Monterey-Carmel topic, my disastrous Monday AM stop at Lemiere pretty much put the nail into the coffin for experimentation when it comes to getting an "away from home" cappuccino or straight shot.

If one has to indicate the "best time" to go to any shop because of the barista that will be on duty, then all I can think of is the poor management and lack of training. Fins in Santa Clara proved that to me. Here you have great equipment, a reasonable blend that mixes well with milk, but it all goes down the drain with a barista that thinks she knows what she's doing, and noone to stop her and and show her the error of her ways.

Maybe someone should start a shop where you come in, pay for your beans, and then grind and brew yourself; sorta' like those pay by the ounce frozen yogurt shops. I think I'd pay a bit extra for just having access to the machinery. At least then I wouldn't have to watch an extraction that starts a second after the button's hit, and then runs blond for nearly a minute!

By the way, my cappuccino at Barefoot was excellent, as usual, and I enjoyed chatting with Chris. I asked that they passed on my greetings to you Gary.

Al

 
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GaryH
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Posted Fri Sep 12, 2008, 1:54am
Subject: Re: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

alsterling Said:

And therein lies my opinion of what is necessary for a truly good coffeehouse; consistency.

Al

Posted September 11, 2008 link

Inconsistency due to the barista or coffee bean quality etc. is only part of the issue. This pic shows how I see it. The x-axis is subjective espresso quality comparing four different coffee houses. Subjective because each person has their own preferred espresso taste.

The espresso quality at both Starbucks and Ritual is very consistent (narrow Gaussian curves). But the average espresso quality at Ritual is much better compared to Starbucks. Even the best tasting espresso at Starbucks (right Gaussian tail) is never better tasting than the worst tasting espresso at Ritual (left Gaussian tail).

To me the average espresso at Ritual is better tasting then an average espresso at Fins. But espresso quality at Fins is also less consistent (wide Gaussian curve). So a poor tasting Malabar Gold espresso at Fins is much worse tasting than a bad shot at Ritual (left Gaussian tails). But it is possible for a very good Malabar Gold espresso at Fins to taste better than a bad espresso at Ritual. But it is not possible for a bad Malabar Gold espresso at Fins to taste worse than a good espresso at Starbucks (right Gaussian tail). Note: just my own subjective espresso taste.

And then the average espresso at Lumiere in Monterey is worse tasting than Starbucks, but they can sometimes be better than Starbucks or Fins because espresso quality at Lumiere is very inconsistent. In this case being inconsistent works in their favor.

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alsterling
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alsterling
Joined: 28 Dec 2005
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Location: Dana Point, CA
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Espresso: La Spaziale S1 (Had Expo)
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Vac Pot: Not yet...
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Roaster: Hottop Digital
Posted Fri Sep 12, 2008, 7:12am
Subject: Re: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

GaryH Said:

Inconsistency due to the barista or coffee bean quality etc. is only part of the issue. This pic shows how I see it.........

Posted September 12, 2008 link

Well Gary, I'm smiling a bit, as I hadn't thought about consistency in those broader terms. But you're right. It's somewhat like the saying, "A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work...", or something like that. And by the way, you're talking to a guy who barely squeezed a "D" out of quantitative analysis in his senior year at Cal Poly! It was only years later, when running my own company, that all that quantitative analysis made sense! (goes to show you the benefits of real world vs academia)

Of course, my thoughts using the word consistency were all about positive consistent components in the equation. I'm curious to know who owns the Lumiere Cafe? It appeared that they were somehow attached, just beyond proximity, to the theatre? But as for that consistency issue, it was really reinforced by the night and day difference in employees between evening and morning. I don't think that gal, working the counter at Lumiere that Monday morning, really understood what she was creating with all that equipment. To see her thwacking away on the grinder, I honestly thought I was in for a decent cup. Oh........... forgot to add that the gal at Fins, after grinding to order............ leveled off her portafilter right back into the doser! Nice work! But then, if pulls that move every time, I guess she's, at minimum, being consistent!? (smile)

best, al

 
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curtrowe
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curtrowe
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Posted Mon Sep 15, 2008, 3:32pm
Subject: Re: Plantation Coffee Roastery in San Carlos
 

GaryH Said:

I requested that the espresso to be pulled directly into a china cup. After rolling their eyes they were willing to do that. It must have been an unusual request because it took two baristas to accomplish that. It took about 30 seconds to pull this 6oz double espresso. It tasted like a strong coffee with some minor carbon taste. I guess the large volume reduced the carbon concentration so the coffee was actually quite drinkable. Maybe they like to pull 6oz doubles because than they have to use less milk to make lattes and thus save money. I noticed this doserless Rocky on the counter.

Posted September 10, 2008 link

Yeah, I got a paper cup as well, to my surprise.  My double was a lot closer to two ounces and had the strength of an espresso.  I guess it depends on what barista you get.  I think I got the owner.  I roast my coffee well into the 2nd crack so a little carbon may be to my taste.  It's all those years of drinking it in North Beach some time ago.  I never could roast as dark as Johnny did at Graffeo's without setting it on fire.

I've had some pretty bad espresso in my attempts to find a good shop so maybe I don't set the bar high enough.  Thanks for mentioning the Woodside place.  I'm going to try a place in Miramar I just heard about next.
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