We recently had a very delightful & productive visit to San Francisco & Oakland to visit some of our coffee collegues & importers. Right after landing we headed for the Toronado and had ourselves some really delicious beer. Usually the beer comes after the massive amounts of coffee but we were feeling particularly celebratory on this day! Next stop, Blue Bottle Coffee in the Hayes Valley. Our pal James owns the place and we have to say, he does a hell of a job. Blue Bottle roasts their own coffee and is home to the famous "Gibraltar" which we had along with a super delicious americano. We hopped in our budget rental car and headed over the Oakland bridge to visit our friends at Royal Coffee to do some cupping and visit the cafe they just recently sold off. Chris needed a closer look at something on the cupping table apparently! At the cafe formerly owned by Royal, they still have their Melitta bar where they brew you up any single origin or blend you would like by the cup. It was a pretty cool setup. Our last stop was a very pleasant visit to Tom and Maria over at Sweet Marias. If you are a home roaster and want the best green coffee, these folks are the people to email! (www.sweetmarias.com)They are truly some of the nicest folks in coffee and Tom's palate is incredible. They graciously showed us around their place. Among his many talents, Tom clearly has a green thumb. He had a room full of sprouting coffee varietals that was pretty impressive. He was also pretty proud of his mini-excavator that Jodi was lucky enough to take for a pretend drive in the yard.