Monday, October 24, 2016

The Terrible Coffee in San Francisco's Restaurants (Deja Vu All Over Again)

Half a century ago the San Francisco Chronicle, locked in a titanic struggle for morning newspaper circulation with the San Francisco Examiner, published an eye-catching, week-long front page series on the "terrible" coffee available in San Francisco's restaurants, with the heroic subheading "A Great City's People Forced to Drink Swill" throwing down the gauntlet in the first installment.

I was reminded of this series last week when my daughter, visiting from New York to help me celebrate my birthday (yes, I'm so old I can't even do that by myself) and I had a nearly perfect meal at Mourad end (quite literally) on a sour note. At the end of the meal we ordered a couple of coffees (or "small pour-overs" as they are called on the menu).  I don't know where Mourad Lahlou sources his coffee, but we were served the thinnest of thin, sourest of sour, Third Wave-est of Third Wave coffees. As the late Utah Phillips might say, it was "otter water -- comes out of an otter."

I'm not blaming Mourad for this. By now, there's almost a whole generation of moneyed milllennials who don't know what coffee is supposed to taste like (hint: it should taste like coffee).  To me, when you order coffee and get something that tastes like it was produced by my Melitta Fastbrew when I mistakenly shortchange it a scoop of grounds, it's a big FAIL (and if you want fruity overtones, folks, go stand in line at The Boba Guys).

Restaurants in San Francisco nowadays bend over backwards to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, glutenphobes, kale lovers and all manner of food faddists. They also typically offer a jillion choices of wines. What would be so difficult about offering an alternative coffee selection, like a North Beach or imported Italian roast for those of us who haven't forgotten what coffee has tasted like for the last 350 years?

Why should those of us from the Graffeo ghetto be forced to drink swill?