Opening a great coffee shop isn't just a matter of roasting your own beans (which Contraband does) installing a high-performance espresso machine (a Synesso Hydra), or offering continuing-ed sessions (Saturday afternoon Coffee Labs). It's about bringing great coffee to territory still dominated by burned espresso and desiccated scones. The Mission, SOMA, Hayes Valley: well served, thank you very much. The border of Polk Gulch and Russian Hill: fertile ground for a sunny new cafe. Josh Magnani and Nathan Wyss's Contraband opened this year in a pocket of the northeast end of town where bohemia hasn't been pried away from good housing and where their Yirgacheffe (appropriately floral) and mellow, rich Central American coffees are as welcome as pothole repairs. And despite the fact that they're brewing coffee in a Japanese cone system, you can pick up a cup of coffee on the run, tack a poster onto the community board, or park out at a stool for a few hours.
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