The west coast cities of the USA take their coffee very seriously and – as with Seattle and Portland – the San Francisco coffee scene is overflowing with small batch roasters who are experts in the entire gourmet coffee cycle, from bean selection to blending to brewing. Not all of our choices are aimed purely at the connoisseur, but they do all offer a superbly crafted cup. From SoMa to the Mission District, Nob Hill to Castro, here’s a selection of our favourite coffee shops in the city by the Bay…
Blue Bottle Cafe
One for the fanatics, Blue Bottle Café has a $20k state-of-the-art five light siphon bar, imported from the Japanese Lucky i. Cremas company after years of discussion according to this New York Times article. Coffee aficionados will think they’ve died and gone to heaven when they step foot inside these doors, but regular java lovers shouldn’t feel intimidated. Cappucinos, macchiatos and lattes are all on the menu too, as well as a great selection of breakfast treats – try the roasted corn bread with Italian sausage or the Belgian style waffles.
Blue Bottle Cafe, Mint Plaza, 66 Mint Street, San Francisco and other locations.
Ritual Coffee Roasters
Another haven for true connoisseurs, Ritual Coffee Roasters is located in hipster central on Valencia Street. This light and spacious Mission District cafe is often rammed to the gills with creative types, entrepreneurs and students and it can sometimes take a while to get your cuppa joe. But when you understand that thirty individual steps go into each and every shot of espresso, you know it’ll be worth the wait.
Ritual Coffee Roasters, 1026 Valencia (at 21st St) San Francsico and other locations.
Stella Pastry and Café
Stella Pastry and Café is not so much a destination for coffee freaks in the way our previous three choices are; rather it is a truly lovely Italian bakery and café that just so happens to serve top-notch espresso and velvety smooth lattes and mochas. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to make this North Beach establishment a definite stop on your SF itinerary. Its famous cannoli, chocolate-dipped almond biscotti, pasticiotti and sacripantina are waiting for you.
Stella Pastry and Cafe, 446 Columbus Ave (between Green St and Stockton St) San Francisco
Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery
The ‘bar’ part of Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery was a long time coming for its sibling owners Jerad and Justin Morrison, but now their 7,000 sq foot glass fronted roastery and warehouse has an industrial-chic coffee counter to hang out at while you watch the exacting art of your beans being processed. The brothers are both passionate about avoiding exclusivity, so ask any questions you like and they’ll educate you in a friendly, approachable way.
Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery, 270 Seventh St, San Francisco and other city locations
Saint Frank Coffee
Named after the owners’ beloved San Francisco, this bi-level Russian Hill coffee shop has an uplifting Scandinavian-style interior which raises the spirits. White and woodsy, with sleek panelled walls and a gleaming white counter, Saint Frank‘s minimalist design purposefully allows all the attention to be placed on the coffee – the preparation of which is treated as a high art.
Saint Frank Coffee, 2340 Polk St (at Union St) San Francisco
Spike’s Coffee and Teas
In the heart of San Francisco’s Castro neighbourhood, the dog-loving, eco-friendly Spike’s Coffee and Teas has been proudly serving a considered brew since 1990. Claiming to provide an ‘oasis from the harshness of modern life and its rigours’, they have no TVs or WiFi and ask that you silence your mobiles while visiting. Perfect for a quiet afternoon with a book and a friendly mutt at your feet.
Spike’s Coffee and Teas, 4117 19th St, San Francisco
Tiny, intimate and a touch European in style, the Lower Haight’s moody Repose Coffee features a sleek marble-topped counter at which to sip your organically grown, single origin espresso. Beans are sourced from Sonoma County’s Flying Goat Coffee, and there’s a tempting menu of baked goods, donuts and sandwiches.
Repose, 262 Divisadero St, San Francisco
Coffee maker © iStock