Coffee culture, or more specifically Cafe culture, in the USA is fucked.
And I'm not talking about the quality of coffee, i'm talking about the customers. I would say that 80% of cafes are infested with Macbook Pro haulin' college students/ hipsters leeching off the cafes wifi and power points. They sit there with their fucking heads down, sip on a $2 pour over for about 5 hours and don't say a word. They don't move either. Nor do they like it when you speak. Or move, or do anything. Basically they have infested cafes and converted them into libraries. Soulless libraries. It wasn't something that I expected in the USA, and it is disturbing.
I have always wanted to move to the USA, and maybe continue this blog over there, but from what I have experienced i don't think that would even be possible, because it's not just the customers who are soulless, its some
of the baristas too. I ran into many that just didn't seem to care, even if I was enthusiastic about coffee, which, clearly, i fucking am. (but to be fair, i think that the non-talkative baristas have just given up hope due to the customers, so I shouldn't be too harsh on them, sorry, i still love you all!) I was sitting in a specialty cafe with my girlfriend Crystal, just having a general chat, and we were being stared down by the people working away at their computers ( we were actually the only people in the cafe without laptops! ) Not only that, people who come in after you, set up camp next to you, take over your space and then stare you down for talking.
To me a cafe should be full of life, full of people, full of culture, It's where you meet friends, make friends, talk to baristas, workers & roasters. Or maybe I'm just damn lucky to be living in a city as great as Melbourne.
The most important thing I noticed in Four Barrel, and this is what sold it to me from the get go, was that it wasn't full of people with their heads down, chained to their Macbook Pros by their headphones checking Facebook and listening to ba ba black sheep
. There were people here ACTUALLY TALKING TO EACH OTHER, did you hear me? PEOPLE TALKING TO EACH OTHER. Actually looking at one another and engaging in conversation. Maybe they were even talking about the coffee!! who knows? All iI know is that I'm just as amazed as you are.
And if you have no idea what I'm on about it, then you obviously skipped past the FOREWORD just up there ^ , and therefore you deserve to be lost, i don't write the foreword for my own enjoyment, they are there for a reason, now go back and read it before I really get angry.
So from what I could tell there is no wifi here or power outlets, something that i think was a conscience effort to stamp out all the power/data moochers, and I think it is the best idea that someone could have done in a cafe here in San Fran. It was a huge risk, the owners could easily have just done it the usual way and had guaranteed customers, but they took the gamble and it paid off, big time. It's the most refreshing cafe I walked into during my whole trip. I think what makes Melbourne cafes so unique is not just the quality, but the people. And not just the people who go to the cafes, but the ones who work there. I have made many great friends who i first met as a customer. And i guess this is why i loved Four Barrels so much. This place has a soul, a heartbeat and culture, that is due to the both the baristas and the customers.
On this day I was lucky enough to meet one of Four Barrels' baristas Scott Fetzer. A really nice guy who I had a nice long chat to about coffee both here in the US and back in Melb, we spoke about travelling and we spoke about some random shit too. The key here is that we actually spoke. Honest conversation.
This was only the second time* I had a genuine chat with a barista in the USA. I've been there twice in the last year for about 2 months in total and had coffee everyday, at all different cafes. Im taking photos of the people with a big fuck off lens and a big fuck off camera and they don't say a word! WTF? This further proves my point from the foreword ( I dare you to tell me you haven't read it yet, and I ain't playing...) BTW Scott was incredibly well versed when it comes to coffee as well, I know i didn't mention this but i got too excited about actually speaking to a barista. He is a genuine person who has a real passion for the bean.
The fit out here is quite beautiful, a lot of natural timber and steel, maybe I can call it Industrial Scandinavian? You can see by the set up that coffee is the focus here, everything leads to the coffee bar which, i might add, is one of the most spacious I have ever seen in any cafe in the world, if this were in a foxconn plant they would have about 2500 workers in this space. There are two mistrals sitting parallel behind the counter ( which for some reason made me think that it would be an awesome idea to have them hanging from the ceiling like the keyboards in the adelante film clip
Like I said previously the coffee is the focus here, there is the main bar, and also a side bar that focuses on the alternate brews, that's some serious shit right there. Not only that, half the space is dedicated to their Probat roaster which sits majestically in the back of the warehouse. So Captain Obvious, yes, they do roast their own coffee. And if you ask me, they are fucking good at it.
But I knew that the coffee here was going to be good because it was recommended to me by some very trustworthy sources ( Thanks James and Matt ). And I can safely say, it was the best coffee I had in San Fran and probably the best I had on my whole USA trip.
I had quite a few coffees here, a Cappuccino ( for the aussies that's a latte in the USA ) which was really quite beautiful, caramel and chocolate tones but was also a little smoky as well, really well balanced cup of coffee. It was the FOur Barell espresso blend and it was amazing.
I had a double ristretto as well which was a knockout, full bodied syrupy shot that was perfectly extracted. Once again the espresso blend.
I had also had some pour over ( Crystal's new found love since we got to the USA ) which was really bright and floral, another espresso and cap. Which were all just as good as each other, I really can't recommend the coffee here enough. Just fucking get your arse down there.
* The other was at Gimme! Coffee in NYC