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Darker, Yet Delicious

Locally based roasters are producing coffees that speak with an Italian accent—and won’t make you wince.

Mr. Espresso

(1 of 3) 

Linea Caffe

(2 of 3)

Scarlet City

(3 of 3)

Read more: Coffee gone sour.

Mr. Espresso, Neapolitan espresso, $10 (3/4 pound)
Since 1982, Mr. espresso has been used by restaurants from Absinthe to Piperade (and by Chez Panisse until a couple years ago, when Alice Waters submitted to the Third Wave). Founder Carlo Di Ruocco grew up in Salerno, and his medium-dark roast has a caramelly sweetness. Di Ruocco brews it into espresso and drinks the first of his two sips with an unstirred spoonful of sugar. Find Mr. Espresso at his son and partner’s café, Coffee Bar.
Coffee bar, 1890 Bryant St. (at Mariposa St.), 415-551-8100,

Linea Caffe, Linea Caffe blend, $24 (1 pound)
Andrew Barnett, formerly of Ecco Caffe, has taken his deft roasting touch to his new venture, Linea. At this tiny spot, no drip is to be found—only smooth cups of espresso (and, interestingly, waffles). Take home some of the beans, particularly Barnett’s nicely balanced (but not too “bright”) Linea Caffe espresso blend, which exudes flavors such as honey, turbinado sugar, and cacao nib.
Linea Caffe, 3417 18th St. (Near Mission St.),

Scarlet City, Warp Drive espresso, $17 (1 pound)
Oakland-based roaster Jen St. hilaire describes this coffee as voluptuous, which seems about right. The fast-moving, chocolaty espresso blend has enough fruitiness in its flavor profile to make you want to inhale it as much as drink it. Producing a thick crema, it’s clearly cut out for a $6,700 La Marzocco, but it also works wonders in a humble French press.
Available at Berkeley Bowl, 920 Heinz Ave. (at 9th St.), Berkeley,


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