Artisanal Toast: The Mill – San Francisco, CA

You could argue that four dollar toast might be the official jumping of the shark in the world of the artisanal food movement. It’s hard to not sound like a Portlandia sketch when telling someone that you paid the price of a fast food meal for ONE slice of bread. But let me assure you: it was worth. every. penny.

Josey Baker (yes, that is his real last name) is a baker living in San Francisco and he runs The Mill: a coffee shop and bakery near Alamo Square Park on Divisdero. When you hear Josey Baker talk about making bread, it sounds like he’s talking about some kind of community building project or social work. Bread is more than bread to him. There’s something warm and neighborly about it. And that’s kind of what you feel walking into The Mill. It is a beautiful building (as if there is any other kind in SF) – all brick and exposed beams, with amazing natural light. Everyone behind the counter is beautiful, the patrons are beautiful; it is an overall, very BEAUTIFUL experience. The walls are filled with local handmade jams, canvas tote bags, coffee, and, of course, bread.

There is a small chalkboard at the counter that lists the toasts of the day. I ordered a cinnamon raisin toast with sea salt and a pour over coffee from Four Barrel Coffee. The toast is sliced thick (probably a good 1.5 inches) and it is dense. The crust is crispy and the center is soft and doughy. And there is a goodly amount of butter on it. If you looked at it from the side, there’s about a 1/4 inch of butter on the surface, and it is warm and delicious. And for being a slice of toast, it was wholly satisfying. I’d say it was even more satisfying and substantial than any gourmet cupcake or pastry you might get at another coffee shop for the same price.

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By the way, Rachel is having a slice of Nutella toast. So there’s that.

I think toast is the last thing you would describe as decadent, but this certainly felt that way. Especially living in a city like LA where carbs and gluten might as well be synonymous with devil worship, there is something so satisfying about a giant slice of hot, fresh out of the oven, homemade bread and butter. Don’t get me wrong, though, this is not just doubling down on gluten for the sake of novelty (ahem, I’m looking at you, ice cream cleanse). This is something that is legitimately delicious. You can really taste the care, and I think that’s something Josey Baker would be proud to hear.


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