Paolo Araneta wants you to try Barako. Araneta opened Ballast Coffee in 2018 to brew coffee with the excelsa beans of his native Philippines, drinks that are characteristically bold and strong, or Barako (which also means wild boar in Tagalog). A welcome alternative to the corporate coffee brands that occupy the east end of West Portal, Ballast is a stylish and comfortable cafe constantly buzzing with a mix of neighborhood regulars and students hopping off Muni for a jolt of caffeine and laptop wifi. The walls are lined with an ever-changing selection of drawings and paintings: a recent show features work from Waldorf High School students, just down the street. In addition to coffee drinks, the cafe sells mochi muffins from Third Culture Bakery in Oakland and a host of other food options. Ballast plans to extend its hours into the evening, Monday through Saturday, until 9 pm, to offer beers from Bare Bottle and eventually wine by the glass. A Barako stout is also in the works.
Most popular drink?
Ballast’s signature drink features Barako-style coffee pre-sweetened with condensed milk, and topped with cinnamon.
Eating Out West:
Araneta eats out on the Avenue with Bursa, Fuji, Little Original Joe’s, and Sushi Suki at the top of his list.
West Portal Needs?
“Now that I’m finally a dad, West Portal could use a toy store again!”
Ballast Coffee: 329 West Portal Ave. ballastcoffee.com