Monday, July 17, 2017

City Baking Co @ Martha & Bros Coffee Company

Martha & Bros is a small chain of coffee shops in San Francisco, with two locations in Noe Valley, one in Bernal Heights, and one in Inner Sunset.  Martha & Bros is not just a cookie cutter coffee shop however, it a legit coffee house, not just a cafe.  They roast their own coffee, daily.  The owners grew up on a coffee plantation in Nicaragua (and yes, it was started by Martha and her brothers).

They must be successful, since the two Noe Valley locations are only a few blocks apart, and the line was constant the whole time I was there.  The location I visited is the second Noe location, opened in 1993, the original has been there since 1987.

The coffee and baked goods were fine, but as they have no locations in areas I frequent, I doubt it will find a way on my rotation.


The location I visited was medium-sized, with seating inside and outside, a handful of tables on the sidewalk.  More people took things to go than stay, but, it was full of people at all times.
So many baked goods.
The ordering area had extensive baked goods displays.

Here you can see cookies, bars, quickbreads, muffins, danishes, coffee cakes, and more.
More Baked Goods.
Croissants of all varieties, so many flavors of muffins, tea cakes and loaves ...

Sandwiches, pizza, cakes, teas.
The cooler case had pre-made sandwiches, burritos, slices of pizza, and cup cakes.


The drink lineup is what you'd expect: coffee, espresso drinks, hot and cold, with some choices on milk, syrups, etc.  Tea is from Mightly Leaf.  Bottled beverages are also available.
Decaf Iced Coffee, Medium, $2.50.
It was a nice warm day, so I opted for an iced coffee.  It was fine, unremarkable.  The only notable fact is that they actually had brewed iced decaf.  Most places only have regular iced coffee, and make an iced americano for decaf.
Condiment Station.
The condiment station is well stocked, with multiple types of milk, assorted sugars (in packets or loose), along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa.  There were multiple shakers of each kind of topping, and multiple containers of each milk.  It is clear that they are used to having a heavy flow of traffic, and need to serve many people at once.  I appreciated the good spread of condiments, although there was no soy milk available.

Baked Goods

Like many coffee shops around town, Martha & Bros sources their pastries from City Baking Co, and their cookies and bars from Ultimate Cookie, both of which I've reviewed when I've found them at other cafes in town, and both of which can be a bit hit or miss.

They offer up a huge lineup of scones, muffins, quick breads, danishes, croissants, cookies, bars, coffee cakes, and more.  Seriously, an insane lineup.

They also serve sandwiches, salads, pizza, bagels, and more, but, I had eyes only for the baked goods.
City Baking Co: Maple Scone. $2.25.
"Dark maple icing compliments the rich maple flavors and crunchy walnuts that make up this flavorful scone."

I was totally overwhelmed by choice, even once I decided I wanted a scone.  I've seen City Baking products at many cafes all over town, but no where has ever had this many to choose from!  I was able to easily eliminate a few, like the blueberry scone that I tried at Prima Cafe, and the mixed berry scone that I tried at Diller's.  I almost went for the apricot scone again, since I loved it at Caffe Bianco, but, I decided to take advantage of the fact that they had many varieties available that I hadn't yet encountered.

The pumpkin scone caught my eye, loaded up with cinnamon sugar topping.  But there was one that kept beckoning to me: the maple scone.  For one and only one reason: maple icing.

I'm amused that City Baking offers both round and triangle shaped scones.  As far as I can tell, there is no reason why they pick one shape or another for a particular scone.  The maple scone was round.

The scone itself wasn't very crumbly, these are more cake style than crumble style.  No tang to the base flavor, but it did have some chunks of walnuts inside that I appreciated.  Overall though, the base didn't have that interesting of a flavor, just a bit sweet.  The icing was maple-y and sweet, and saved the scone, as I hoped, but in general, this just wasn't my style of scone.  I like more of a crumbly nature, and I like some tang in the base.  And, usually, I like a scone that pairs with clotted cream and jam, although those obviously wouldn't go with the maple.  Since I was having a scone plain, I opted for one that I hoped would stand alone.

This was better than the blueberry or mixed berry scones I've had from City Baking, but I am unlikely to get another.  I think that in general, I'm just not into their cakey style.  $2.25 price was standard for City Baking products offered at coffee shops.
City Baking Co (?): Almond Croissant.  $2.25.
"Sliced almonds sprinkled over our croissants and house made almond filling make these the perfect treat for any occasion."

I've been really craving a delicious croissant, since the phenominal ones I had from Espresso Roma.  I went to Martha & Bros intending to get a scone, but, once I saw almond croissants, I changed my mind.

Bad move.  The croissant wasn't good.  It wasn't just not as good as the Espresso Roma one, it just wasn't good.

It was dried out, stale tasting.  It wasn't crispy on the outside, it wasn't moist inside, it wasn't flaky.  It was just dry and almost spongy.  Inside was a little bit of almond paste, not enough to add any moisture, and not really with any flavor.  The only part I liked was the sliced almonds on top.  I certainly will not get another croissant there.

I think this came from City Baking, since all of their scones and muffins are sourced from there, but it doesn't match the photo on City Baking's website, so I'm not 100% certain.  $2.25 price was pretty standard.

Martha & Brothers Coffee Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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