In the summer of 1988 Hanna Suleiman opened the estimable Caffe Greco on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. His generous personality and dedication to importing and serving the finest Italian coffees permeated every aspect of the place and made for a bright and sophisticated alternative to the fusty, old-line cafes of North Beach. Among the many who have made a pause at Greco a necessary part of their day over the last 26 years are the chefs Mitchell and Stephen Rosenthal, who, after helming the kitchen at the legendary Postrio for more than a decade, now run a number of celebrated restaurants of their own: Town Hall, Salt House, and Anchor and Hope.
In 2012, after a more than twenty years of friendship, forged over countless cups of espresso, the three of us have decided to bring together our more than 100 years of experience and mutual interest in a European style of coffee roasting and service to create “La Capra,” a contemporary South of Market cafe influenced by Italian coffee tradition.
The name “La Capra” celebrates not only the well known coffee origin story of Kaldi and his capering goats, but also the Italian espresso customs preferred by us. While purveyors of today’s “third wave” coffee are justly celebrated for their devotion to single origin coffees and lighter roasts, we at La Capra look to a more traditional, Italian expression in the roasting of our signature espresso blend.
With a creamy, mid-palate approach to espresso in mind, we spent many months in the cupping room, sampling coffees from the world’s best growing regions and experimenting with depths of roast. Our blend combines a pair of Brazilian beans, a fair trade organic from Gautamala, and a natural processed bean from Ethiopia. They are expertly roasted to a stunningly deep brown, resulting in a coffee with body and roasty sweetness, qualities enhanced when milk is added.
At La Capra, the Italian embrace extends to the spirit of the physical space at 50 Fremont Street, as well as at 360 Third Street in San Francisco. There you'll find an 18 foot “espresso rail,” a narrow standing bar that makes a perfect spot to pause and indulge in one of the signature coffees.
Besides the espresso program, we will also feature to order pour-over coffee, as well as drip coffee for those on the run. La Capra also offers an array of pastries, and features a focused menu of seasonal sandwiches and salads.