San Francisco’s Civic Center is not known as a gourmet mecca. Once you leave Hayes Valley and go East of Van Ness it becomes more like a desert when it comes to cuisine and libations. But that is about to change with the opening of MA•Velous, a coffee and wine bar on Market Street at 10th. Mavelous is the stylish new destination for coffee aficionados, wine connoisseurs and foodies.
Owners Phillip and Lean Ma (hence the origin of the name) aim to revive the cafe society that used to be at the core of artists’ and Bohemian’s lives, while serving some of the most amazing coffee.
To set the stage SFLuxe’s own Claudia Juestel of Adeeni Design Group created the eco-conscious interior, which is both approachable and chic while celebrating the local arts. The design was inspired by the cafe’s proximity to the Opera, Symphony, Ballet, the Asian Arts Museum and the SF Arts Commission, the theaters, and the library.
Adeeni Design Group hired a number of Bay Area artists to create specific design elements. Kevin Randolph, known for his unique luminaires made from discarded objects, created all the light fixtures and the fabulous infinity mirror in the bathroom (so make sure to check out the bathroom!) Infamous Oakland street artist Eddie Colla was commissioned to paint a 50′ mural to span the entire length of the cafe, which sets an edgy tone for the richly colored space in shades of espresso, red, gold, and bright green — selections Claudia told us were influenced by the colors of roasted coffee beans and coffee fruits.
While only seating 40 Mavelous offers its guests various areas to hang out, a siphon bar, cozy booths, a small library, and an intimate lounge area. The latter was our favorite, and we found the selection magazines in the library impressive. They range from art to music, dance and theater.
At its core Mavelous’ concept is taking specialty craft coffee to an art from by brewing up some of the best coffees from small international gourmet roasteries in six different ways. The pièce de resistance is a custom-built La Marzocco espresso machine with the engine and red water tank exposed behind decorative glass panels. The first of its kind this is a guy’s kind of machine, which any car enthusiast would appreciate, so complicated that the owner has been fine-tuning it for two weeks now. It has put some of the most experienced baristas in awe.
They also have other beautiful and sculptural equipment, such as the Kyoto slow drip coffee maker and the Siphon brewing machine, which offer additional different taste options. While coffee may be the driving force Mavelous also puts the same attention to detail into its other bevarages and the food. The cafe offers, select teas, unique soft drinks and a nice variety of boutique wines from around the world.
To compliment the wines one of the country’s youngest rising star chefs Tyler Stone created a select farm to table menu that will change seasonably. To pair with the choices of coffees selections of desserts and pastries are based on the availability of the best ingredients at any given time of the year. We got try small samples of the delicious selections, and we look forward to savoring more.
Last week’s private opening brought over a hundred guests to the Civic Center’s newest hot spot. Life Jazz and the cosmopolitan atmosphere captivated guests to the point where many lingered happily until midnight, while tasting wines hand-selected by Brian Escobar of the Regal Wine Company and delectable bites of what the cafe will serve on a regular basis.
Despite owner Phillip Ma’s caution of the espresso not yet meeting his highest standards, as he continuously tuned the La Marzocco machine, quite a few guests insisted on trying it. And they raved! Equally popular was the cold drip coffee, which takes 16 hours to brew and everyone proclaimed it super smooth. We can only imagine how little sleep some guests got after those jolts of caffeine.
The press, designers, architects, coffee and wine aficionados who turned out despite the Giants game all gave Mavelous their stamp of approval. We look forward to visiting often and partaking in some of the regular coffee cuppings and wine tastings. There is as much to learn about coffee as there is about wine, and Mavelous is the perfect venue to acquire that knowledge in great style.
In case anyone has wondered about the curious spelling or perhaps a missing R, the name was inspired by famed 19th century San Francisco coffee entrepeneur Charles E. Bickford who deemed the then undiscovered Central American coffees “mahvelous”, in has own manner of speech. The “missing” R was provided to guests in form of a gift.