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Sixth Street's Pentacle Coffee Runs on Good Fortune - By pkane - November 30, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Sixth Street’s Pentacle Coffee Runs on Good Fortune

A mural by Nathan Rapport in the front of Pentacle Coffee (Photo by Peter Lawrence Kane)

As it’s probably a load-bearing column, the striped barber pole remains in one corner, but otherwise almost every trace of the former San Francisco Barber College is gone from Pentacle Coffee at 64 Sixth St.

Proprietor and longtime specialty-coffee pro Bobby Valentino Sanchez. But aren’t pentacles affiliated with the Dark Lord?

“It has nothing to do with Satanism,” he says. “It’s more like the tarot. Pentacles mean prosperity and earthly goods, and also the ace of pentacles has to do with new beginnings.”

There’s also a connection with coffee: On the Ethiopian flag, there’s a blue circle with a yellow star in it that’s a pentacle of sorts, and coffee beans of course grow in the Ethiopian highlands. Sanchez had been looking for a spot in or around the Tenderloin and when he came upon this long, slender spot on the corner of Jessie Street, he was charmed. It felt good, he says. With Blue Bottle and Equator Coffee each barely a block away, he’s not worried about the competition. In fact, it’s a boon.

“There’s already people that drink good coffee,” he says of the neighborhood. “That’s already established.”

Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “for now,” Pentacle serves Four Barrel Coffee — where Sanchez worked until October — and pastries from Dogpatch’s Neighbor Bakehouse. There’s a distinctly Mexican and Latin American bent, too: Among the chocolate croissants, there’s a chorizo-potato turnover and a guava-and-cream cheese pastelito. Additionally, Sanchez serves Mexican mochas and a cajeta latte, made with a slow-cooked caramel similar to dulce de leche.

Whereas the Barber College had a black-and-white tiled ceiling, Pentacle’s walls are clean white subway tile in the prep area and exposed brick opposite — but there’s a Tarot-esque, Art Nouveau mural in front by artist Nathan Rapport that depicts two robed guys in a field of flowers, about to kiss.

Sanchez has known Rapport ever since he moved to San Francisco, and saw a show the artist hung at Strut in the Castro. Rapport “came to see the cafe with me and I walked him through, and he did it over Halloween.

“He did that in like six days,” Sanchez says. Apart from a metal pentacle hammered into the brick, the space has already begun to acquire the trappings of an established business, namely dollar bills tacked to the wall. They’re in bigger denominations than simply ones, too, an indication of further good fortune for a cafe that already seems to run on celestial benevolence.

“One’s from my nephew,” Sanchez says. “It says, ‘Papi, si se puede.’ ”

Pentacle Coffee, 64 Sixth St., 415-508-6258, (no website).