Coffee. Suffice it to say we are a town obsessed. And though it may not boast the hip-kid-approved venues of Ritual, Four Barrel, or The Mill, or the even bougier Sightglass or Blue Bottle, the Castro is about to see a coffee war all its own.
If Starbucks represented the "second wave" of coffee culture's evolution in the U.S., the so-called "third wave" of artisanal roasters is going pretty strong in the Bay Area, with upstarts appearing every year to compete with the more established entities Sightglass being the most recent, having opened in 2010, to have gained traction with restaurants and coffee snobs citywide.
Starbucks was recently thwarted in an attempt to open a third location in the Castro due to the City's new experimental rule governing the maximum concentration of formula retail within a 300 foot radius. Starbucks wanted to open a new store at Sanchez and Market Streets when it already had locations on nearby 18th Street, and at the Safeway plaza at Church and Market. Also, the neighborhood's popular Peet's location was just a half block away.
Now, a block up from Peet's, and just a block away from the even more homegrown Castro Coffee Company, we have two new coffee purveyors coming to the same block of Market between Noe and Castro. First up, Eater reports that Illy is attempting to move into the vacant former frame shop at 2349 Market Street. This would be the second Espressamente Illy cafe in town, with the first on Battery having opened in 2011.
Over the weekend, new signs appeared at the end of the block, downstairs from Fitness SF in the former GNC space, for Weaver's Coffee & Tea. It looks like the San Rafael-based purveyor has signed a lease for the prime corner at Noe and Market, setting up a whole new coffee war and presenting even more competition for Peet's. Weaver's coffees and teas are already available at Whole Foods and at restaurants around the Bay Area and Southern California, however this appears to be a second full retail location for the company after this Wild Card Roasters location in San Rafael. The roastery is launching multiple brands, the first of which is Weaver's, and thus the Castro spot will be the first branded location with the Weaver's name.
Given that neither company appears to have more than the threshold of 11 locations in the U.S. (though Illy has many more outside the country), both should pass muster when it comes to the formula retail issue. But that doesn't mean the Castro needs two more coffee shops on the same block. We'll see how this all shakes out.