We've been watching the construction of the new Coffee Cultures cafe over the past six months with interest, both because it's right off the lobby of SF Weekly's office at 225 Bush Street and because it's the only Bay Area location exclusively serving Counter Culture coffee beans. The cafe finally opened a few days ago, providing the Financial District another spot to get a well-crafted espresso, as well as Bay Chai, Five Mountains Tea, and Straus frozen yogurt.
The beans come from the well-respected North Carolina roaster Counter Culture, and this is the first coffee shop in the Bay Area to make them the sole focus (though Counter Culture coffee's been available at Stanza in the Haight and other spots for a while). The latte we tried was quite good, rich and nuanced with the kind of nutty, fruity, bright notes you only find in a well-made espresso. We weren't as impressed with the chai, which was disappointingly weak.
The reason the name is plural, in case you were wondering, is because the shop also traffics in frozen yogurt (multiple "cultures," get it?). Today's offerings were a plain, tangy Straus base, and a Guittard chocolate version made in-house. We got them swirled and naked because a cup was already a fairly pricey $4, but for an extra 50 cents to $1 each you can get toppings like dark chocolate, pomegranate, peanut butter M&Ms, nuts, and more.
Decor is S.F. standard, i.e. lots of reclaimed wood and Edison bulbs. There is a handsome wooden bench outside the building, and a pending permit for sidewalk tables and chairs.
The cafe is fairly empty now, but we're sure it will soon be as packed as the others in the area when word gets out. Time will tell if the die-hard coffee snobs will choose it over Coffee Bar -- the former home of Coffee Cultures owner Jason Page -- or if frozen yogurt aficianados will be willing to give up the options and low prices of Yoppi, both around the corner on Montgomery.