Although I go out for a drink fairly often, since I’m always on the lookout for something new, have an eclectic taste, and a wide variety of friends in different neighborhoods, I don’t really have a bar at which I’m a regular. Kennedy’s here in North Beach used to be close (hey, they have Buck Hunter and a usually-empty back room) and if it’s the right bartender, Joe might still get recognized. Certainly Craig and Beth at City Beer Store know us, and by now most of the staff recognizes me from Strong Cheese deliveries, but if I sat down at the bar, no one would be able to say, “Hey, Jasmine, you love stouts so you gotta try this…” La Trappe might come close. Not only have we done some events with Mike and his great staff, but last time we were in Mike spotted us and said, “You guys went to Belgium a while back, right? Let’s drink a Westie!” And proceeded to dig an aged Westvleteren 12 out of the bar’s cellar for us to share. So I can’t complain.
But today I became a true regular somewhere for the first time–at a coffeeshop in North Beach. Beacon opened up just a few months ago and I immediately fell in in love with their big windows, tasty coffee (even the drip!), chill music, and truly helpful staff. Today when I ordered my coffee, the barista waved away my money and said, “I’m getting your coffee today.” I thanked her, reached for it, and then she said, “Oh wait, let me get you an extra saucer for the top.”
See, I have this sort of quirk with my coffee, where I feel the need to keep it covered at all times. When you sit in a coffeeshop and sip slowly, it tends to get cold. So I’ll put my muffin plate over the top, or a book, or a plastic to-go lid. Whatever I can find. Oddly enough, it has never occurred to me to ask for a saucer to put over it. Apparently, it has occurred to her, and she remembered that I was the customer who did this. This is what separates fine customer service from above-and-beyond customer service. Just noticing things. I find this even more impressive in light of the fact that I am not a chatty customer.
This same barista is one of those people who is so comfortable in and good at her job that it’s fun to watch her do it. The tamp, steam, grind, pour monotony turns into sort of a performance art piece when someone can make a long line of espressos and cappuccinos quickly, and with a sort of calm confidence. I used to feel the same way certain days at Cowgirl, when we were busy but not crazy, and all of my excellent coworkers would just rock it. Twelve people could move around a 6×6 space at high speeds without ever stabbing, dropping, or hurting anything or anyone. Because they were that good.
My biggest complaint about Beacon is that it’s hard to score table space. It’s getting too popular, dammit. Also they don’t carry lunch type food, although perhaps this isn’t a bad thing as I might never leave otherwise. They have shelves full of local foods to buy for a snack or home-cooking though (you can see a bit in the background of the picture). The owners live right here in North Beach too. In fact, I saw them at our local Off the Grid night once (held at the North Beach Pool lot) and they told me they live in the same building as the shop!
Later this week Joe will give you a bit about HIS favorite new coffeeshop here, The Station, which opened up just a few months before Beacon. Competitors! But judging by how busy both places generally are, there is apparently plenty of room for both.