This is my first in a series of reviews of cafe’s in The Mission. I’ll be trying cappuccinos at each cafe and providing a review based on the taste of their coffee, their pastries, and making a few remarks on the ambiance encountered on the visit.
First, let me say that I like Four Barrel. With it’s high vaulted ceilings, large glass windows and reclaimed industrial space look, it’s a treat for the senses. Peering past the coffee bar, you can actually see the staff preparing the beans on large roasting machines.
On to the coffee. The cappuccino was served with the milk foam gently placed on top, and then lightly stirred until he created this little heart on top. (I guess love is the secret ingredient?) As far as taste goes, I found the coffee slightly bitter and acidic. I know that many hardcore java aficionados like that dark, smoky complexity but I find the lighter, nutty roasts more agreeable to my palate.
The ambiance. As you approach the counter after queuing in line for 10 minutes, it becomes obvious that all the people who work there are way cooler than you are. Their mix of flannel, plaid, and denim shirts along with rolled up sleeve hoodies and muted color beanies give them a distinct look from some of the patrons. The line going out the door is not particularly hipster, having many iPod toting commuters wearing sweaters and button up shirts. I suppose the only thing cooler than actually getting your daily coffee there, is working there.
High up on the wall are four stuffed boar heads – but don’t worry, they all seem be smiling. I’m not sure why taxidermy has become some popular in hipster neighborhoods – but stuffed, dead animals seem to be all the rage at stores like Paxton’s Gate in The Mission or restaurants like Lodge in Williamsburg. Hanging near the entrance is a large sculpture of stiff, braided rope that looks like it was pulled from old ships down by the San Francisco piers. To add a little vintage street cred, there is record collection on one wall and the bathroom has a clearly visible old chandelier. Naturally, there is a city sponsored sidewalk parklet out front with arching metal structures and plenty of vertical bike parking – isn’t that really the preferred way to show up to a coffee shop?