Coffee Like You Mean It: Mr. Espresso Celebrates 40 Years of Tradition
People get personal about their coffee. They do, and don’t try to argue otherwise. We know it, we see it, and we hear about it steadily in this city and beyond.
The attachment we have with our morning brew is tangible. With the soaring market for coffee, however, its integrity and tradition seems to have flown off the rails a bit.
We aren’t saying this is a bad thing. A cold brew with coconut milk or mocha latte is all well and good, and it can be fun as anything to surf the trends (heck, we wrote an entire article about milk, remember?), but there is also something inexplicable about the tried and true, the perfectly steady, the magic that is espresso brewed by those who’ve done it longer than almost anyone in Northern California proper. Wouldn’t you say?
The coffee idols we speak of are none other than the di Ruocco Family who began their mission to bring good, honest, Italian espresso to the Bay Area back in 1978.
How did it start?
After emigrating from Italy, Carlo di Ruocco worked installing elevators in the Bay Area, eventually stepping into the coffee industry by repairing and maintaining espresso machines on the side. Espresso was a rare commodity in the Bay back then, with very few locations offering it, and even fewer of high quality.
If anyone was up to the challenge of making the area espresso-minded, it was di Ruocco. Having worked at an roastery back in Italy during his youth, Carlo di Ruocco was accustomed to highly drinkable espresso—espresso you could steadily drink throughout the day— that still packed a punch of deep flavor. He also made the conscious decision to make Mr. Espresso a wood roastery, meaning the coffee beans are roasted via wood-burning, lending a deeper flavor. Gas roasting runs the risk of highly acidic coffee with less honest flavor. After all, gas is much quicker, but something in the beans is often lost in this push for quick turnover.
Give Me the Goods.
In short, we loved each and every one of the eight (yes, eight!) brews we sampled while visiting Mr. Espresso’s HQ in Jack London Square. After the experience, we felt a little jacked, but it was an altogether pleasant energy surge. Our personal favorites were the Golden Gate Espresso and the Elysian Blend, if we really had to choose.
Where Can You Find It?
Still offering their full service machine, maintenance, and espresso bean package to restaurants both locally and nationwide, some of the greatest restaurants in our area and beyond are proud to brew Mr. Espresso. For one, Chez Panisse and Oliveto were some of the first clients. Now, you can find them at Belga and Gio Gelato in Cow Hollow, Delarosa restaurants around the city, Cheeseboard Grand Lake Kitchen in Oakland, and plenty of others. For an extensive list, see here.
Mr. Espresso is one of those steady pillars of an area that maintains a simple coolness while pumping out no-nonsense, truly fantastic coffee, earning its place ten times over in the realm of bay coffee addicts.
// Multiple locations, photography courtesy of Mr. Espresso; mrespresso.com.