2349 Market St., Castro
The Castro is becoming a coffee corridor these days, with forthcoming outposts of Weaver's and Reveille destined to perk up the neighborhood. Espressamente Illy, the second San Francisco cafe for the Italian coffee conglomerate, is first to the gate, softly opening last week with its signature lineup of espresso and single-origin beans. In a first for the chain, this location will feature a Monoarabica pour-over bar, where coffee will be brewed cup-by-cup using Chemex and Hario systems, with baristas offering pointers on replicating their techniques at home. Signature lattes in flavors like lavender-mint and jasmine-vanilla will also be available.
As with the FiDi location (both are owned by SF native Joe Gurdock), Espressamente Illy's menu was designed by local Cal-cuisine legend Joyce Goldstein, and the lineup is mostly the same, with options like sopressata-goat cheese-red pepper panini; farro salad with mint, basil, and arugula; and tuna and white-bean salad. (Here's the food menu.) Baked goods are from Semifreddi's, and while the shop is open late, there are no plans to apply for a beer and wine license, as Gurdock believes the shop can help address a lack of alcohol-free gathering places in the neighborhood. For those looking to gather with their laptops, there's also free wi-fi.
The 49-seat cafe, at 1,800 square feet, offers a variety of seating options, including a coffee counter with stools, couches, and a communal table. A coffee-cup chandelier installation from French conceptual artist Daniel Buren, based on his piece "Rainbow in the Sky" and made with Illy's artist-collaboration espresso cups, is the focal point of the modern space. There's also a major retail component to the business, with single-origin beans, espresso, coffee cups, and coffee machines available for purchase. Hours are daily, 7 am-9 pm; an outdoor patio in the back should open early next year. And for those wondering how Illy was able to open a cafe after Starbucks and Chipotle were rejected from the Castro this year: this is the chain's ninth U.S. location, putting it under the 11-outlet limit in SF's formula-retail law.