A Bittersweet Experience

Bittersweet Cafe on College Avenue is a local favorite.  It’s even bigger than Rockridge: it has a location at the infamous Ferry Building in San Francisco’s Embarcadero.  They’ve got a pretty good gimmick going: chocolate is good enough to devote an entire store to it.  And they’re right.  They carry chocolate from all over the world (fair trade!), make their own chocolate, and have partnered with the immensely popular Blue Bottle Coffee, which is sold at the Bittersweet stores.  R. and I were drawn into Bittersweet Cafe today for the coffee. 

It turned out to be a *bittersweet* experience.  At 3:34 I paid for 1 hour of parking on College Avenue, walked the 1/2 block to Bittersweet Cafe.  When I arrived there were 2 people in front of me in line.  There were 4 people currently working at the cafe [3 in Bittersweet “uniform” t-shirts, one not.  The one who was not in the t-shirt was some kind of supervisor with enough authority to give away chocolates to a scantily clad woman in a revealing “OBAMA” tank top and tight jeans for her Obama fundraiser–talk about A Rockridge Life].  We waited.  The two women in front of us moved a little slowly, but I thought, hey, that’s cool, once we get the order in things should be pretty quick.  We got the order in.  Two iced lattes: $7.  Not bad for Rockridge.  We started to wait for the coffees.

I got a phone call.  I checked my blog stats.  I ended a phone call.  I realized that no one had started making our coffee–still.  The tight-clothes wearing woman collected on the Obama donation.  We waited more.  

All told, it took until 4:04, yes 20 whole minutes, for R. and I to receive two Blue Bottle iced lattes.  TWENTY MINUTES, TWENTY WHOLE MINUTES.  Well, if you factor in a generous 2 minutes for the 1/2 block walk, EIGHTEEN MINUTES.  EIGHTEEN MINUTES???

Now, I recognize that when I patronize businesses I bring with me my culture; that is I carry my culture with me into every day to day interaction I might have.  And I know my culture is White, American, and in part New York.  And I’ve over the past three years had to work on adjusting my expectations of how long it takes in other parts of the world i.e. outside of New York, to get a cup of coffee.  And I apologize for any cultural insensitivity, but HONESTLY, ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON AT BITTERSWEET CAFE IN ROCKRIDGE IT TAKES 18 MINUTES TO GET AN ICED LATTE???  What is going on here?  

Total time it took me to drink the iced latte: 4 minutes.

The final analysis:

Blue Bottle from Bittersweet Cafe is not worth the many minutes of life I wasted waiting around for an unmotivated, unambitious Bay Area person to pull a shot of espresso.  Next time you’ll find me at Hudson Bay Cafe.

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1 Comment

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One response to “A Bittersweet Experience

  1. sam

    just get blue bottle at the farmer’s market! much less hassle. they also have it at that place we went one time with the delicious hummus, guerilla cafe.
    and i agree: bittersweet is as famous for its bad service as it is for its chocolate and drinks – at least in my head it is.

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