With some apprehension built up over more than 40 years, I brought the chocolate-colored coffee cup up to my lips and dove in – joining the 100 million Americans who grab a cup of Joe every day.

The first sip was like a jolt. The slightly bitter flavor of the coffee blending with the milk in my latte wasn’t what I expected. (For some reason I was hoping for melted coffee ice cream flavor.) But within seconds, I felt a surge in energy, that jolt of adrenalin coffee drinkers live for.

For the next few seconds, I felt like I could wrestle with a gunman on top of a moving train ala Daniel Craig in “Skyfall.” Then the rush subsided to the calm of the drinking experience as I sipped my latte to the final drop.

My first cup of coffee

My first cup of coffee

Coffee cherry popped
I may seem like an anomaly, but I resisted drinking coffee since I stole a sip at age 7 from my father’s breakfast cup of instant Taster’s Choice. The bitter flavor turned me off coffee, and as an adult I decided I didn’t need that extra boost of caffeine.

A true tea lover, I did feel like I missed out on the coffee culture of cafes and wi-fi. While others got their half-soy, cinnamon-flavored macchiato, I settled for whatever generic brand tea bags a café offered instead. While I enjoyed the aroma of coffee – and love all coffee-related desserts – I avoided the real black juice.

Early afternoon at Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery

Early afternoon at Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery

But you see, 2013 is a significant year for me. I’m celebrating a milestone birthday, and so I’ve fallen into the cliché of a man chasing backwards the many things that I haven’t done in life and needed to do now as I live the “if not now, then when?” mantra.

Why Sightglass Coffee Bar & Roastery?
San Francisco is enjoying a boon in small-batch, artisan coffee roasters. So how did I end up at Sightglass, the latest independent coffee company from brothers Jerad and Justin Morrison?

I had bought some Sightglass coffee beans late last year as a gift for my brother-in-law, who is a regular coffee drinker. Walking into the Sightglass Coffee Bar in SOMA, I enjoyed the industrial vibe brightened by natural light.

The coffee bar, which opened last year, is your typical hipster hangout, with young couples dressed in street-smart style. The spacious coffee bar features a 1961 Probat roaster from Germany in the front, surrounded by a curving bar.

Poppy seed muffin made by Piccino

Poppy seed muffin made by Piccino

So I decided this would be the perfect setting for my first cup of coffee. The coffee menu features cups made from Sightglass’ Owl’s Howl espresso beans, and customers can pair their coffee with pastries and baked goods from Piccino. I ordered a latte because I knew I needed something to soften the bitterness of coffee, plus I wanted to see that pretty swirl my barista would undoubtedly make on top.

Not quite hooked
Even though drinking the latte wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be (I did have to add a tablespoon of sugar) and a poppy seed muffin did help, I can’t say I’ve converted to a regular coffee drinker. I may try other coffee here and there (what exactly is a cappuccino?), but I still enjoy the nuanced flavors of tea and will probably continue to find my coffee fix in ice cream and cakes.

Barista at work

Barista at work

Sightglass Coffee Bar & Roastery, 270 Seventh St. (at Folsom), San Francisco. PH: 415.861.1313. Open Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–7 p.m.; and Sun., 8 a.m.–7 p.m. sightglasscoffee.com

More photos

While I didn’t totally fall in love with coffee drinking, I did love the Sightglass Coffee Bar space. So much so that I snapped a few pictures of the space in between sips, and created this latest slideshow below. As always, you can find this and other slideshows in my Exhibits section.

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8 Responses to 12:57 p.m. on 01.12.13 at Sightglass Coffee Bar

  1. Row says:

    Dude, really? Wow, welcome! It’s funny, a couple of weeks ago, I was drinking so much coffee that I got caffeine withdrawal headache when I stopped (okay, maybe not so funny :P). I usually drink my coffee either black or with soy milk (no sugar), but once in a while, I splurge and have a latte or a mocha. So many ways to enjoy coffee… happy drinking!

    • Ben Ben says:

      LOL, yeah, I should start a support group for late-blooming coffee drinkers! But I’m worried I may be the only member! I don’t know how you and others can drink coffee black. That’s how my brother-in-law drinks it. I don’t know if I could ever get to that level.

      • Row says:

        I’m an amateur coffee drinker, but I find when coffee is made properly (correct temperature, beans aren’t over-roasted), it results in a flavour that isn’t bitter at all. It’s kind of hard to explain, but to me, a cup of good black coffee tastes smooth, and has a clean finish. 🙂

  2. Tony DiCorpo says:

    If coffee is bitter it is not good coffee. Period.

  3. hungry dog says:

    Uh, you haven’t tried coffee since you were 7??? That’s crazy! Well, good for you for giving it a go. I’ve heard of this place but never been. Your photos are so gorgeous, they really make me want to go there.

    PS When’s your birthday?

    • Ben Ben says:

      I have had coffee ice cream (which I love) and in tiramisu (one of my favorite desserts). And I get a big dose of coffee in affogato, that Italian dessert of espresso with a scoop of vanilla (but I think I’ve maybe had four affogatos in my life). This was my first full cup of real coffee (not in dessert). If you actually know my age, you’d be even more impressed how long I’ve held out! 😛 My birthday isn’t until April, but like I said, since it’s a milestone birthday, I’m using the whole year to celebrate! Haha

      P.S. I really love the Sightglass Coffee Bar, but they don’t have tea on the menu so next time I go, I really have to get another cup of coffee. Maybe a cappuccino.

  4. Julie says:

    Try the siphon-brewed coffee at Blue Bottle for a real taste experience. I think it would definitely appeal to a tea drinker.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Can you believe I’ve never stepped foot into their Mint Plaza cafe? Is the siphon-brewed coffee not as bitter? What makes it different? I might check it out after a few months when I recover from this cup. LOL