Four Barrel: Back Alley Coffee and Boar Heads in the Mission

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Coffee San Francisco

Four Barrel serves coffee from a back door during café construction.

Jeremy Tooker co-founded Ritual Coffee Roasters with Eileen Hassi in May 2005 and their Mission District coffeehouse quickly gained a reputation for serving the city’s best coffee. It must have ended badly, since Tooker is getting set to launch a rival coffeehouse just six blocks away. So much for a non-compete agreement.

In his new venture, Tooker has partnered with Duane Sorenson, whose Stumptown roastery dominates the Portland coffee scene. The name Four Barrel Coffee comes from the coffeehouse’s sample roaster that holds four barrels of coffee. While Four Barrel is under construction, Tooker and his baristas (including Bobby, who came from Peaberry’s in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood) are serving coffee drinks in the back alley. Several other customers joined us in the alley during our brief visit, a testament to Tooker’s reputation in the community.

I first heard about Four Barrel in the spring, from Intelligentsia barista Ryan Willbur. He was pretty excited about Tooker’s new coffeehouse, and given how discriminating he is about coffee, we absolutely had to try Four Barrel. Willbur said every Four Barrel barista will be a proficient roaster, and that San Franciscans should expect a cupping bar.


Coffee San Francisco

Four Barrel currently lists just five drinks on a plywood scrap menu.

Bobby said they’ll have the same menu when the coffeehouse becomes fully operational. They may or may not add mocha.

Coffee San Francisco

Bobby expertly prepared both my cup of French press coffee ($2) from Costa Rica and my Cappuccino ($3).

Our back alley experience and the view of the coffeehouse-to-be through the window hinted at how good Four Barrel could be once it debuts full-force. There’s even talk of wild boar heads over the bar. I’m looking forward to returning for more coffee once they add actual seats.

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Joshua Lurie

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

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