Coffee has become one of the great pleasures of the 21st century. For many years, coffee was something that was simply consumed to wake you up and give you that extra boost when you slowed down.
From Max Packs to percolators, coffee was a weak, unpleasant warm drink that was often dolled up with a few teaspoons of sugar and some half and half. Brands like Folgers and Hills Brothers were the absolute bottom of the barrel offering cheap beans, ground to the lowest common denominator. At one point, the chicory infused coffee from the French Market Cafe in New Orleans was considered gourmet as was the Antigua instant produced in the fields of Guatemala.
All of this changed with the arrival of Starbucks, Peet’s and Seattle’s Best brands. Seattle was, of course the birthplace of the coffee revolution. The dreary Northeastern weather was the perfect setting for the development of the new coffee mania that started in the 1990s.
Coffee became all about the bean and the quality; dripped, turkif-ied, expresso-ed and no longer percolated. Of course, Seattle couldn’t do it alone. A city like San Francisco would become the epicenter of the new coffee mentality with coffee addicts waiting for a delectable fix.
The dank climate here, chilly and wet in the winter, chilly and dry — and foggy — in the summer, yielded the perfect climate for the enjoyment of coffee in all its varieties and blends. The flavors of Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Jamaican Blue Mountain, etc. would foster a gourmet palate among the citizens of this foggy town.
San Francisco is a city known for its dining. There are literally hundreds of terrific restaurants. This is not a city where you have to spend a lot for a great meal. A cheap Thai restaurant or a small Mexican cafe can yield some pretty superb cuisine for a minimal price. There’s something in the air here that created a similar interest in coffee drinks.
Whether traveling the globe to taste the various flavors or trying the latest, low fat, mocha latte, San Franciscans, fogged in, chilled and saddled with gourmet palettes demanded the best from their coffee purveyors and a level of interest previously devoted to various wines both from California and Europe. Maybe it’s something in the water, the air, or the fog!