Oakland Coffee Trail: Modern Coffee


Last night Modern Coffee added me as a twitter friend. This morning I decided to ride downtown and check ‘em out. The cafe is on the ground floor of the Tribune Tower (no longer home to the Oakland Tribune). It’s a tiny place, but just right for a 20-30 minute respite from the demands of the day. While sitting there I enjoyed catching snippets of conversation on the politics of the day (local and national). The copper topped table signaled the kind of attention to detail that I appreciate in a small cafe.

I ordered a double shot and asked the barista/owners if this was going to be a third wave influenced drink. The gentleman said he and his partner were former Peet’s workers and appreciated the dark roast school but thought there were few coffee roasters that could manage a dark roast (Peet’s being one). They are featuring beans from a variety of roasters at Modern Coffee — they describe themselves as a “coffee taproom” — and today’s beans were from Verve in Santa Cruz. Definitely a lighter roast, and my espresso was perfectly pulled. A nice crema on top of a tart, fruity coffee. It seemed to get tarter and the fruit came forward as the coffee cooled off.

It’s fantastic to have access to a place within a 10 minute bike ride from the house where I can sip the tasty java. There are many more places to explore, but Modern Coffee is going to be a yardstick by which I measure future experiences.

UPDATE: 13 Jan 2010 | I stopped back for another cup this morning. Tried an Americano instead of espresso. MMMmmm good. It was the Verve Streetlevel, but in the Americano I picked up more of a chocolate flavor than the tart, grapefruit flavor I tasted in the espresso last week. I asked about that, and it turns out several factors can alter the overtones in the coffee. The addition of water to make the Americano can be a factor. The time-since-roasting age of the beans is also a factor. And how much time it takes to pull the shot is also a factor. Robert and Kristen were very happy to take a few minutes and explain all of this to me.

I didn’t fully understand my brother’s preoccupation with this level of detail when it came to making coffee, so it’s nice to get some third party education. I have a new appreciation for what Jon’s trying to do with his espresso machine in Moline.

I added a photo of the new diner mugs that Modern Coffee has purchased for serving coffee in house. You can buy these mugs to enjoy coffee at home. They are heavy mugs with a great feel in your hand. (A friend, Troy Evans, once told me that the key to feeling quality in small products was weight.)

Modern CoffeeTrib Towermodern mug

Friday January 8, 2010 — Mark —