Four Barrel Coffee: Taking It Slow in the Mission

Coffee San Francisco

Longtime coffee pro Brett Walker helps lend gravitas to Four Barrel's slow bar.

Like seemingly no other city, San Francisco has certain establishments that require precision timing. On Washington Square, Liguria Bakery routinely runs out of focaccia by noon. Conversely, Tartine Bakery doesn’t even begin to sell sandwiches until 11:30 a.m., and they don’t release breads until after 5 p.m. Four Barrel Coffee has a slow bar by the entrance that closes mid-afternoon, but I managed to visit two days straight during a spring trip.

Coffee San Francisco

Four Barrel’s Coffee slow bar brews single-origin beans as pourover or espresso.

Brett Walker, who I first met during the 2009 United States Barista Championship, when he was still working for Seattle’s Zoka Coffee Roasters, prepared two coffees for me.

Coffee San Francisco

Walker first pulled Colombia San Augustin Los Cauchos ($3.50) espresso, which advertised “strawberry, caramel, grape” notes. That’s pretty specific, but I did get sweet acidity.

Coffee San Francisco

Four Barrel displays beans in jars in front of the equipment, to see the base ingredient, including those Colombia San Augustin Los Cauchos beans.

Coffee San Francisco

My cup of Kenya Tekongu Tegu ($4) pourover promised “orange, marmalade, vanilla, honeysuckle” and delivered another blast of bright acidity.

Coffee San Francisco

I took a close-up look at Kenyan beans, but didn’t see any honeysuckle. Strange.

Considering the range of options, the personal attention, and the ability to linger at the bar and talk coffee, count me in for the slow bar. I just have to arrive at Four Barrel earlier.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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