And then the coffee Nazie says, “NO GIBRALTARS TO GO!”

What is a Gibraltar, you ask? If you are an SF coffee aficcionado or a hipster you already know the answer.

A while back, I wrote a post about “Macchiato”. That was my coffee of choice, a single shot of espresso, with just a little foam or milk… except for I always asked for more hot milk or I added a ton of half n half after. I realize now that it wasn’t really a Macchiato that I loved afterall.

Not too long ago, I asked for my Macchiato with extra hot milk and the barista said, “Would you like a Gibraltar instead? … it sounds like this is what you want.” A few minutes later, Mr. Barista handed over a beautiful little coffee served up in what looked like an oversized shot glass. I added my usual ton of sugar and proceeded to enjoy the PERFECT coffee for my taste. It reminded me of a Cuban “cortado”. Cortado means “cut”, as in espresso cut with some milk.

I was so excited, so I took many risks at many different coffee joints and asked for a “Gibraltar”. I was met with many squints, some cocked heads, a few blank stares, but mostly the word, “NO”. I knew that Gibraltars were new to me, but had no idea that I was actually an “early adopter” of this coffee drink. I wasn’t sure whether to be proud or bummed because I just wanted a fricken Gibraltar and I wanted it now. I had no idea how these were made, so I “winged it” asking for them in a broken down fashion… “Hi, I would like, well, it’s called a Gibralter, usually comes in a small clear glass, but I don’t see that you have one, so I think it is like a little espresso with like double the milk?” and one barista said to me, “next time, just order and pay for a capuccino” I have had many capuccinos in life. A Gibralter is NOT a capuccino.


You don’t.

There was the time that I ordered a Gibralter TO GO and the person said, “We can’t make it to go because it is only a Gibralter if it is served in the glass.” I became a little frustrated and said, “well, can’t you just make the same coffee drink, but pour it in a paper cup?” NO. So then, I just ordered it “for here” and poured it in a paper cup myself.

I realized that I had NO idea where this little perfect coffee drink came from, so I Googled it and found that the famous Bay Area based coffee people, Blue Bottle Coffee, invented the drink. From SF Wiki:

” The Gibraltar is a specialty espresso drink invented by Blue Bottle Coffee. It is served in a small 5oz glass and consists of a double shot of espresso and 3 ounces of steamed milk. The drink is served at a lower temperature, usually around 120 degrees, and without foam and minimal texture. It is larger than a macchiato and smaller than a cappuccino.

The drink was originally something made only by baristas who would instead of wasting the extra milk from a latte would pull a new shot and pour the now cool milk into the shot. Gibraltar!

I also discovered that I wasn’t that early of an adopter, since there have been posts about this drink since 2009, but why do I still get the squints, nods and stink eye? It might just be me. I am overly nice and smiley and that is like wearing a skunk for a scarf in SF. Nice and personable are just not en vogue in SF.

My favorite Gibraltar in SF is served by Jane on Fillmore Street. It is so perfect that it doesn’t require a pound of sugar to remove the bitterness of the coffee. The baristas there always finish it with nothing short of a work of art flower, heart or squiggly design on top and it just makes me SO happy. They also serve it with a smile. Jane makes incredible pastries and serves up delicious food as well.

Jane on Fillmore. Notice the little glass for my Gibraltar.

The biggest difference between my last coffee lover, the macchiato and my current flame, the Gibraltar is two shots of espresso. I still enjoy a macchiato, mostly because I feel molto Italian when I order it, but it dissapears so fast. The Gibraltar allows me to enjoy more coffee happiness, without the extra jolt because I order mine half caf. I had to explain half caf to a fella the other day. It wasn’t pretty.

The real Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, Island between Spain and Morrocco.

The drink is named Gibraltar because the little beveled shot glass is called a Gibraltar. If you know where it got it’s name, please tell me.

By |2018-10-03T09:52:12-04:00March 20th, 2013|


  1. bob March 22, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    why dont you try drinking that Gibraltar without scewing up that pretty little flower

  2. Mary Gilbert March 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    I want to try a Gilbralter! I’m thinking if I bring my own glass then I can take it to go and still call it a Gibralter right?

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