Back when I was a cheesemonger at the Ferry Building and scoring early-morning pastries from the incomparable Frog Hollow, I discovered Blue Bottle Coffee. Now, I’m not ashamed to admit that before this discovery, I had been a coffee wimp. Before Blue Bottle, I could only drink lattes that had been heavily laced with flavored syrups and topped with great drifts of whipped cream so thick you could barely find the caffeine underneath. But this was smooth. This was robust. This was love.

Sadly, I could never get my hands on Blue Bottle unless I was at the Ferry Building or across the Bay. However, as I’m no longer slinging cheese and really don’t get across the Bay often enough, I was utterly bereft of the bitter brew. Plus, from what I was told, Blue Bottle only sold their stuff in whole beans and, at the time, they didn’t have a shopable website.

Until now.

This is a weird thing to reveal, but February 14th is the five-year anniversary of our coffee maker. Back then, my then-boyfriend did extensive research to procure the best, the brightest, and the most gifted coffee maker within our limited budget. At that time, we had no preference for a coffee maker that came with a grinder and for five years we rather happily brewed and drank pre-ground coffee. Oh, we were young then, we are so much older now.

This past Christmas, my husband (again after extensive research that included visiting coffee geek chatrooms) surprised me with the most beautiful coffee grinder I have ever seen. It’s big. It’s retro. It’s fire-engine red. After two months of Trader Joe’s Kona, it dawned on me that we could now get coffee that had been denied to us all these years. (I blame the lack of quality coffee for the belated enlightenment.) A recent blurb in 7×7 announced that Blue Bottle was opening a little stand in my Hayes Valley neighborhood, but that news took a backseat to my brainstorm: I could finally buy beans!

I visited their impressively designed website and, after reading the pages delineating what beans were best for which kind of brewing technique, purchased a few bags. Because Blue Bottle is so obsessed (but in a very, very good way) with their “artisan micro-roasting” process, they want to make sure their customers receive their beans as soon as possible after roasting. Not only do they not charge extra for such expedient shipping, but the shipping is so expedient as to be miraculous if you live within 50 miles of their East Bay location. And? The adorable brown bags stenciled in blue with their logo is to die for. I’m such a sucker for packaging.

I got my aromatic box of Blue Bottle beans in time to surprise my husband for Valentine’s Day, our coffeeversary, and we can’t wait to start grinding, brewing, and drinking.

Coffee Breakthrough 10 February,2005Stephanie Lucianovic


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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