Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
May 26, 2001 09:12 PM

Best Source for Coffee Beans in Bay Area??

  • j

Does anyone have recommendations for where to find high-quality coffee beans for someone who likes strong, rich, flavorful coffee that is smooth (i.e. without the bitterness of say Peet's coffee)? An example would be Spanish/Cuban or Vietnamese style coffee.

Also, does anyone know a reputable place to get Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (beans) in the Bay Area?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. b
    Brandon Nelson


    I never thought I would reach a point in my life where I would drink coffee with no sweetener. Sugar, vanilla syrup, chocolate...something. Unless of course it was with a rich dessert. Then I discovered Mr. Espresso beans. Not bitter. Not bitter. Did I mention these beans are, well, not bitter.

    They are available packaged in the coffee section at Berkeley Bowl (2020 oregon St. in Berkeley). Give them a try. They are a superior product.


    3 Replies
    1. re: Brandon Nelson

      i second brandon, mr. coffee is a great bulk coffee that's served at many of the top restaurants in the area.

      i'm a peet's lover thru and thru and wonder if you've only had their darker coffes, they have some beautiful lighter style roasts that are very complex. my favorite of these being the gaia organic blend. it's a little sweet, nutty and round in the mouth. my personal fav is the arabian mocha java, full bodied with a delightful aroma and lingering flavor. i would really urge you to try something other than peet's dark roasts, i personally cannot bear their best sellers, major dickasons and garuda or even the house blend. try some of the middle america's, smooth and gentle on the palate. they have lots to try besides what you get at the espresso counter.

      ps i don't have anything to do with peets, i'm just a really finacky coffee drinker!

      1. re: Rochelle

        Peets was good about 15 years ago,Now its just a huge corparate $ machine,Which is fine but certainly not the best place to buy coffee.
        Plus Peets expresso drinks are truly average.If you want a great latte. you must only buy them from a busy establishment that has Hispanic workers. They understand that the art is in the pull of the extractor ... not how many tattoos or piercings you have.But anyway back to the coffee,My choice is Royal Coffee at 307 63rd@College Oakland
        Prices are very good (coffee of the month specials) it is roasted to perfection in Emeryville, so its very fresh and of course it is extremely tasty.

        Compared to Peets or Starbucks there is no comparison.

        1. re: Mission

          i realize coffe is a highly personalized taste, but to generalize and dismiss all of one brand of coffee and all of that brands retail centers is really missing the point. (i'd like to say something stronger, but will refrain)

          your espresso will Always depend on the barista who pulls it and a shot should Always be short for maximum pleasure, but since when did one ethnicity corner the market on that knowledge? it just so happens that the Very Best coffee i've Ever had Was pulled by a pierced, tattoed, bald headed native american/polyneisan (sp) who understands perfectly what an espresso is all about.

          i will give you the coffee in mexico is superior, but please don't slam the choices i make that bring me pleasure and Might, perhaps, bring some to another.

    2. We try to shop conscientiously, so we buy both organic and fair-traded coffees.

      I suggest trying the selection at Rainbow Grocery in SF. (We buy Equal Exchange Organic French in 5 lb bags, but it may be on the bitter side for you.)

      1. There are sooooo many good coffee roasters in this area. Mr. Espresso is very good and we buy it often at Berkeley Bowl. Graffeo on Columbus in S.F. may be our all-time favorite, although the Graffeo in San Rafael can be roasted until it is bitter. Coast Roast is very nice and organic. Try the Guatemalan.
        I agree the Peets Fr. roast is a bitter type, but it's true that there are others that are not. Some of the very best lattes in the Bay Area are at the Peets on Vine in Berkeley.
        I too would encourage you to buy Free Trade coffee.

        1. r
          Rochelle McCune

          For years I looked for a good, strong coffee that was full flavored, smooth, never bitter. I recently found it and there's no going back. I did not find it in the Bay Area, I order it online - French Roast Sanctuary by Counter Culture Coffee out of North Carolina!!

          The general idea is that coffee beans mature more slowly under shade, so shade farms produce the finest coffees. Sanctuary works shade coffee farms to help save disappearing rainforest in the migration path of songbirds. (The declining songbird poplulation is related to clear-cutting production techniques of large coffee farms now being used in the wintering grounds of migratory birds).

          I found this coffee company through Slow Food. Sanctuary Coffee is the only coffee in their Ark of Taste. The Ark seeks to save specific foods because of their an economic, social and cultural heritage. Personally, I purchase Ark foods whenever possible because I have found that Ark foods are of exceptional quality, and I'm helping small producers survive.

          But regardless of the food politics, its really excellent coffee!


          1. you should definitely try Capricorn Coffee on 10th/Sheridan, btw Folsom and Harrison. very reasonable (they roast right there) and a huge seleciton of really delicious coffees.