Before we left San Francisco I wanted to hit Four Barrel as they have a big selection of unique coffees on offer at the moment. It's a beautiful setup, really spacious and well designed.

Four Barrel

Four Barrel Roasting

V60 pourover line

Doreen had a french press of their Rwandan Nyamasheke Shangi, I had a few sips when it was hot and it tasted fine to me but Doreen said it fell apart as it got cooler. Maybe just the fact that Doreen doesn't really drink french press and the fines were throwing her off?

While waiting for the V60 pourover bar to open up I grabbed a shot of their Friendo Blendo espresso pulled by Alex (I think) and it was really good, certainly something I would order again.

When the V60 pourover bar opened I spent some time with Ian, he was running the pourovers and was most accommodating. The first coffee I had was a microlot of the Colombian Bruselas Nestor Lasso and like all the roasts I saw up close the profile was quite light. The image below makes the beans look darker than they were in person. I think Four Barrel is dropping the beans somewhere around 400 degrees, or just as first crack is occurring, I'm basing that on the light and uneven colours and some mottling of the bean, I'd call it a light City roast. Because of the lightness of the roast I'm not sure how much the light roasting profile is creating the high notes on this bean, it was really quite bright. I was getting a bit of the pineapple and some buttery caramel but I didn't get any cherry. Overall I thought the cup was a bit too light for my tastes and I like light roasts.

Decent microlot

I also tried the featured espresso pulled on a small one group LM, which was located behind the V60 counter. The first shot was a sinker as the grouphead seal had a small leak and was dripping clear water as the espresso was starting to flow. The second shot pulled better but the lightness of the roast came through more so than the vanilla custard listed in the cupping notes. This was an intensely sharp and distractingly bright shot, like key lime on fruit steroids. So bright I think blood came out of my ears. No fault of the barista in my opinion, I just think it was a very hard bean to pull at that roast level.

Featured espresso

After Four Barrel we walked back to the hotel and jumped in the Pilot to go across town to a Thai restaurant called Marnee Thai, really good Thai.

Great Thai restaurant

After lunch we did some more walking, here's a classic San Francisco neighbourhood shot.

Classic San Francisco street

Then it was off to Berkeley to hit the Tuesday Berkeley Farmers Market. Not as big as the Saturday market but still very cool.

Berkeley Farmers Market carrots

I was reluctant to try Blue Bottle at the farmers market. Based on the nasty shot at their Pier 1 location and the mediocre shot at their Linden St location I had pretty much written their espresso off but Doreen said I would regret it if I didn't give this one a chance. Glad I listened to her as the guys working the market were on it, with good attitudes, and the shot of their Roman Espresso blend I had was really good. The shot was a bit old school with a hint of smoky Italian front end but quickly shifting to sweet caramel and fruits towards the back end. It's funny about the Blue Bottle experience over a two day period; a fantastic start at their Mint Plaza location, followed by a downgrade at Linden, a total implosion at Pier 1 and then redemption at their Berkeley location on an old beat-up propane powered lever machine.

Blue Bottle Coffee propane lever machine

Leaving Berkeley we made our way to Santa Rosa, well worth a visit if you like Russian River's products.

Russian River Brewing

I went with their nine flight Belgian sampler, some of which I've drank in bottles in the past. All of these were off the tap and this was a really great way to put their Belgian line into context as they arrange the flight in good order from light to dark/stronger tasting.

9 flight Belgian sampler

Here's a bit more about the nine I sampled as listed on the big chalkboard behind the bar.

Russian River Belgian listing

While working my way through the nine, the boys worked their way through some pizza and Doreen had a huge salad. A flight of Belgian samplers doesn't go well with pizza so I felt obligated to order a pint of Pliny the Elder off the tap. ;-)

This morning we left the hotel and headed to Kendall-Jackson to do some wine tasting. We decided to taste their Reserve series and ended up sampling six very different wines. Doreen picked out a nice bottle of Chardonnay from that same Reserve series, we aren't big Chardonnay drinkers but this particular Chardonnay was good.

Touring at Kendall-Jackson

From there we started the longish drive up the coast, along the way we stopped in Ukiah and hit this little roadside taco stand which had excellent carne asada and carnitas tacos, the cook was hand-making the corn tortillas as we waited, the fresh cilantro and killer salsas did the trick.

Great little roadside taco stand

Carne asada and carnitas tacos

Further up the coast we stopped in to walk around the giant Redwoods.

Big Redwoods

The three boys

In a tree with mom

A big log for the brothers

And later still, a bit of Paul Bunyan.

Paul Bunyan

Sorry about the nasty-ish images, I left the Nikon DSLR back in Rossland.

Right now we are checked into a hotel in Crescent City, quite unremarkable but it was getting late and storming pretty hard. Tomorrow we will be in Portland and the plan is to stay there for three nights. It's a great town for food, coffee and beer. Lots to see and lots to do.

Time to go research a Portland hotel deal online.

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