Catherine here, with a double posting. First up, Phil's coffee, in Gateway market on 24th and Folsom in San Francisco. I went there, on the recommendation of Salt contributor Andy Gass (one half of the acclaimed musical duo, the Jew-grass Boys) and oh boy, was it good. Phil's like a doctor, writing out prescriptions for people's morning caffeine depending on their moods and personalities. "Sometimes I just know," he told me, when I asked him how he decided whether a customer should have, say, the Ether blend or his signature Tesora (that's Italian for treasure). "I can feel it."
For me, he chose Tesora, a large, with a splash of his signature heavy cream. "I touch it with love and passion," he told me about the cream as he grabbed a half gallon carton, held it closed with his fingers and shook it. He added it to my coffee--which he brews by the cup, not pot. He sprinkled in a packet of Splenda (I'm diabetic, yo), tossed in a sprig of mint, and "flipped" the coffee--that is, stirred it with an up-down motion until it achieved the perfect color (what he described as resembling "a brown paper bag" and, in a more poetic moment, "the color of the desert").
It was like, ridiculous how nice and friendly Phil was to his customers, and vice versa. One woman had brought her parents in from Ohio to try his coffee. Another had come directly from the airport to Phil's. "I just talked to some friends on the phone," he told me. "They said, 'What are you doing?' and I said, 'I'm having the best cup of coffee in the world and I'll see you in an hour.'" One guy even demonstrated his affection for Phil by doing yo-yo tricks.
But the Phil's experience was perhaps best summarized by the aforementioned Andy, who said that on a recent weekday morning, he overheard the following exchange:
CUSTOMER: This is an amazing cup of coffee.
PHIL: I know. I make love to it.
Check it out.