SAN FRANCISCO—The city that has built an empire on sourdough is on the rise to diversify its breadth of toasted offerings. The city’s latest culinary craze is one of the most commonly known breakfast foods that many people have grown up with in their kitchen pantries.
Since 2014, artisanal toast has been receiving widespread media attention as being one of the newest foodie fads, making it nearly as versatile as the crepe and bagel. Its trending presence and popularity among San Franciscans have created both acclaim for its preparation, and criticism for its $4 per slice price tag.
The inch-thick slices of freshly-baked bread, slathered with fresh local jams and simple toppings are prepared with keen artistry by skillful bakers. San Francisco transplant, John Gravois, commented on the culture of specialty toast bars, such as The Mill, and described the venue to be “a temple to hot sliced bread” on This American Life’s segment “The Hostess With the Toastess.”
Giulietta Carrelli, the owner of Trouble Coffee & Coconut Club, is the trend’s originator, and was the first to feature artisanal toast as a standalone item in a small coffee joint located in the Outer Sunset. Carrelli mentioned that toast had always been something that reminded her of comfort and safety; during hard times her mother made her toast, and she believed that others would feel the same about the nostalgia of home.
Since its debut at Trouble in 2009, artisanal toast has taken a life of its own; where coffee shops like The Mill have been devoted to perfecting its craft. The Mill is a joint venture between Four Barrel Coffee and Josey Baker Bread. Baker states that each loaf of bread takes 48 hours of preparation before specialty concoctions of jams and spreads are topped onto each slice. On any given day of the weekend, The Mill will have six four-compartment toasters running and sell as many as 400 slices of toast to visiting patrons.