Colombia Tolima Yellow Caturra

042418-coffee-colombia-tolima-imgFrom rainforests, to mountaintops like the Andes mountain range and sitting close to the equator, there’s no doubt this combination creates the perfect climate for growing coffee, making Colombia one of the world’s best producers.

Tolima is bordered by Huila and Cauca in the south, a region particularly associated with quality coffees known for their higher acidity and distinctive cup profiles that include fruit and caramel notes.


Contraband’s Colombia Tolima Yellow Caturra is sourced from family-owned farms in the area made up of about 30 people associated with 100 Anos – a producer known for its ongoing training that helps produce high quality caturra coffee.


Flavor Profile: baking spices, mild cocoa. The sweetness of this cup comes from citrus flavors like oranges and stonefruit. The taste of custard, burnt sugar lingers. Very refined cup, with complex aftertaste of caramel.

Region: Herrera and Las Juntas, Rioblanco, Tolima, Colombia

Altitude: 1600- 2000 meters

Process: Fully washed and dried inside solar dryers that provide protection from the rain.


Spring Celebration of Street Art!

It was so fun doing our last photo series about Winter SF! For our next series, we are going to turn to appreciate the cool energy and spring vibrancy that comes from brilliant, colorful street art. The only thing on these city blocks that rival the colors of flowers and funky outfits is the amazing mural art you see from time to time. In addition to city spotlights that come from the beautiful minds of students from art schools throughout the region, there are a TON of cute and brilliant  pieces lingering around each neighborhood. San Francisco is one of the top three US cities for supporting street muralists and we at Contraband agree it’s a benefit to the city. So over the next few weeks, we are going to celebrate all of the street art we find around our cafes and neighborhoods by sharing those pictures with you on our Instagram feed! Check out our weekly updates there and share your own finds from your neighborhoods, so we can celebrate local art together. Just tag your photos #contrabandcoffee. At the end of the series, we will collect all the photos and post them here on the blog. In addition to this, we found a really cool curbed page that outlines where 49 of the top murals are located.

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Guatemala Antigua Bella Carmona

031018-jacada-travel-antigua-farm-img-700x394No pressure or anything, more like a warning: Only a couple of weeks left until we run dry on Guatemala Antigua Bella Carmona. (panic emoji face)

A few reasons that, year after year, this is the most popular selection on our menu:

  • Recognizable and easy: you know Antigua is famous for quality coffee and you’re confident while ordering that you’re not sounding like a bumpkin.
  •  Wide appeal: there’s something for everyone in the flavor profile.
  •  Super consistent: bean to bean and harvest to harvest, Bella Carmona delivers clean and dependable results every time.
  • Highly versatile: put these beans through any extraction process you can think of like, espresso, cold brew, Chemex, Aeropress, zero gravity immersion osmosis…whatever you get into, your cup is outstanding.

    At the Hacienda Carmona Estate, owner Luis Pedro Zelaya, a fourth-generation coffee farmer, leads coffee cultivation in Central America by combining tradition with innovation and setting the bar for quality control. Let’s not pretend Contraband is the only roaster using Bella Carmona beans. The farm kicks out a large amount of coffee every year and roasters across the globe know what to expect. The higher saturation of Bella Carmona lots reduces scarcity in the pricing equation, resulting in a superb value for all of us. Meaning coffee this good will cost us all more money if it’s only available in very limited quantities from a smaller farm (with a more exotic name difficult to pronounce).
    Agua, Fuego and Acatenango, the three volcanoes in Guatemala’s most beautiful and captivating valleys, Antigua, is what creates the region’s rich volcanic soil, which produces one of the world’s best coffees. Bella Carmona’s unique characteristics of brown sugar sweetness and citrus brightness are what makes this a damn fine cup of coffee. These fully washed, sun dried Bourbon and Caturra beans juggle flavor complexity like old circus pros.
    Flavor profile: balanced, rich and smooth, brown sugar and milk chocolate.
    Region: Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez
    Altitude: 1,500 – 1,650 meters
    Process: fully washed and dried on elevated tables inside solar dryers that provide protection from the rain.

A San Francisco Winter

A barista easily notices the sudden onset of an S.F. winter.

It begins with the holidays as The City empties out. Then, as people return from their holiday journeys, something changes. As the weather becomes a touch colder, maybe a little rainy, coworkers meetings last longer than expected, friends drink tea longer into the night. Within a few weeks of the new year winter can seem busier than the summer.

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Along with that busy feeling come familiar faces and an interesting observation. The neighbors return from their hometowns with stories of feet of snow and stinging wind – eyes wide open as they carry on about it – yet everyone takes note when the mornings are crisp or the rain lasts longer than a couple of days. We have an interesting definition of winter in our town that seems to ebb and flow with our various acclamations.

It seems the season isn’t much about the weather in SF, rather, it’s about the way we’re a little more relaxed and spend a little more time together. It’s about drinking coffee with a friend in a damp park, next to a tree that decided to lose its leaves in January instead of November, and how excited we are to wear our winter coats because its below sixty degrees.

The holidays are over and the rhythms of The City are slowly building again. Until they pick back up, your barista will be celebrating their special perspective on the quirky reality of winter in San Francisco.

Here’s hoping you celebrate too.


Everyone can check out even more of our winter perspective on Instagram @contrabandsf 

Ethipoia Kochere

If you’ve been into Contraband you’ll have noticed that we’re really into pour-overs. To start the new year we’ve debuted a new coffee and with it we’re doing something that we’ve never done before: had two coffees from the same country – at the same time – in our pour-over line up!

They are Ethiopia Yirgacheffe “Kochere” and Ethiopia Sidamo “Guji”.

Bring your coworker to Fifth Street or your partner to Larkin so that one of you can get a Guji and the other a Kochere – just hope the other person will share because these coffees are awesome! Don’t limit yourself to a pour-over either. These two coffees are also a part of our cold brew and single-origin espresso rotations.

We’re excited to start 2018 with two Ethiopias that are super on point and surprisingly different!

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Ethiopia “Kochere”

Flavor Profile: white wine, strawberries that are sort of white at the top, a hint of lemon.

Region: Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia

Altitude: 1800 – 2000 meters

Process: fully washed

Ethiopia “Guji” 

Flavor Profile: spiced graham, earthy blueberries, bit of vanilla.

Region: Guji Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia

Altitude: 1800 – 2200 meters

Process: natural process

Note the difference regarding how they’re processed – one is washed and one is natural processed. You’ll have fun tasting difference!

Illicit Espresso

What’s up with our Illicit Espresso?

Contraband is proud of it for a few reasons.

We’re proud that our neighborhood on Larkin St. has loved it for over seven years.

What makes us most proud, though, is that the Illicit reflects who we are: a Bay Area operation where the whole is greater than the sum of our diverse individual parts.  We’re sure you’ll know where our Espresso is from because it stands strong on its own and stands up to anything you throw at it!

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Whether you order a little Macchiato or a sweet, complex Iced Seperator you’ll know of the spro! And if you’re one of those customers who’s been drinking straight shots for years you’ll have noticed that- like Contraband, the Bay, and the neighborhood- some things have changed over time, but ever since we found this unique flavor we’ve been sure to keep it around! 

Here’s the run down on the Illicit Espresso blend: 

Flavor Profile: mesquite, dark chocolate, caramel sweetness 

Current Origins: Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala and Brazil 

Altitudes: ranging from 800 meters to 2100 meters 

Processing: Washed and Natural mix