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Good SF coffee?

Earl Oct 3, 2005 04:53 PM

I'm new to the area, and I am a coffee fiend. I know San Francisco has a reputation for coffee, so where should I go?

P.S. I already know about Peet's, and please don't bother telling me about Starbucks. I think I might have encountered a few of those before.

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    nooodles RE: Earl Oct 3, 2005 04:55 PM

    My favorites:

    Ritual Roasters in the Mission (on Valencia, near 17th). Possibly the best steamed milk you will ever have, and they'll pour you latte art.
    Delessio (on Market at Gough). Their lattes are a little more thick and hearty, but still good.
    Cafe Madeleine: they use great chocolate here, so the mochas are more of a hot chocolate/latte hybrid. Thick and creamy.

    People love Philz, but you'll have to look up where exactly it is.
    Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf: a nice Peet's substitute, but nothing to write home about.

    4 Replies
    1. re: nooodles
      Wubber RE: nooodles Oct 3, 2005 05:08 PM

      That Ritual place is new. I like the espress there, too. Cafe Organica and Coffee To The People also do that latte art thing. Have you tried those places?

      Personally, I'm not a fan of Philz, but I agree it is a San Francisco exprience someone might want to try and make your own decision. I would steer clear of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf if you don't want a "Starbucks" experience.

      1. re: Wubber
        KathyR RE: Wubber Oct 3, 2005 05:19 PM

        I just had my first cup of coffee (I chose Turkish) at Philz on Saturday, and it was the best cup of coffee I've ever had in my life. It opened my mind to what coffee could be. I knew there were coffee fanatics, but I never "got it" until this weekend.

        1. re: KathyR
          jalapenogrl RE: KathyR Jun 29, 2006 10:11 PM

          The only problem with trying Philz is that it is seriously addictive. I usually get a Philharmonic with cream and sugar, and love savoring each sip. It's nice to have cinammon, cardamon, and mint in your coffee.

          I recommend letting the staff sweeten your coffee for you unless you are a control freak or have health issues that bar cream. You'll be glad you tried it.

          There are 2 SF locations- 24th at Folsom and 3901 18th near Castro. Bonus: the Philz crew are a friendly bunch.

        2. re: Wubber
          Cynthia RE: Wubber Oct 3, 2005 05:32 PM

          Ritual is on Valencia near 22nd Street - using Stumptown Beans from Portland. OMG, it's good!

      2. w
        Wubber RE: Earl Oct 3, 2005 05:04 PM

        I think you'll find the best espresso and coffee in Sf at Coffee To The People. Its over on Masonic by Haight Street (a block away from Haight and Ashbury). All their coffee is fair trade and organic, and really good. They will do a french press, too, which really brings out the flavor. If you really want a jolt, get a french press of the French Roast.

        I also like Farleys over in Potrero Hill, and there is this place called Cafe Organica just north of the Golden Gate Park panhandle that rotates their espresso providers so you can try different ones.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Wubber
          Paul RE: Wubber Dec 15, 2005 03:55 PM


          1. re: Paul
            moto RE: Paul Dec 15, 2005 06:31 PM

            hello, please be so kind as to give details (location, what they prepare/serve). myself, a former coffee/tea professional who is disenchanted with most commercial venues and now roasts at home. I did find a nice cafe/roaster in Alexandria, so I haven't lost hope. thank you.

        2. d
          Dr. Biggles RE: Earl Oct 3, 2005 05:11 PM

          OooOO oOOooo, you need to stop by the Blue Bottle Coffee's (micro-roaster) Kiosk in Hayes Valley. 315 Linden at Gough. Organic coffee, never older than 5 days. Deelightful.


          6 Replies
          1. re: Dr. Biggles
            Earl RE: Dr. Biggles Oct 3, 2005 05:19 PM

            Wow, this really is a city for coffee. I put up my post less than a half hour ago and already I got three replies. Thanks!

            From the group response, I guess I will be checking out Blue Bottle, Coffee To The People, and Ritual. I especially like that Blue Bottle and Coffee To The People do the organic thing. All different parts of the city, though, right?

            1. re: Earl
              Steve RE: Earl Oct 3, 2005 07:03 PM

              Besides, Ritual, and Blue Bottle, you must give Cafe Organica a go. Besides these 3, there really is no other places to go in the city for serious coffee.

              As for Philz, if you like cheap robusta beans mixed in with stale arabica beans, to make the drink more profitable give them a try.

              1. re: Steve
                Paul K. RE: Steve Oct 3, 2005 07:34 PM

                I think those three are excellent, but I wouldn't rule out Coffee To The People, either. Personally I think they beat all three of the others. They roast all organic and fair trade blends up in San Rafael. Heavenly.

                1. re: Paul K.
                  Kaitlan RE: Paul K. Oct 3, 2005 07:41 PM

                  Where is Coffee To The People? I never heard of it.

                  1. re: Kaitlan
                    Kaitlan RE: Kaitlan Oct 3, 2005 07:43 PM

                    Nevermind. I just saw the other post "Coffee To The People." Somehow I missed that one before. Sometimes I wish you could un-post on this site.

                    Anyway, for anyone else who missed it, it is on Masonic Ave near Haight Street. Must be new.

                2. re: Steve
                  Kaitlan RE: Steve Oct 3, 2005 07:40 PM

                  Meow. You really took out the claws for Philz, didn't you? I've had mixed experience there, but the coffee isn't THAT bad. I think making coffee by the cup is a little fadish and hard to maintain consistent coffee, but you can't get any fresher brew than that.

            2. a
              Alfred RE: Earl Oct 3, 2005 06:15 PM

              Cafe Organica makes the finest coffee I've ever had. Blue Bottle is also a favorite. Ritual too. But sart with Organica.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Alfred
                Richard RE: Alfred Oct 3, 2005 06:28 PM

                Agreed. Try a ristretto using their naked portafilter. For capps, ask them to pour a triple rosetta pattern. A true espresso fiend will understand what I'm referring to :).

              2. s
                Steve RE: Earl Oct 3, 2005 07:12 PM

                Oh, and another thing, since your new in the area. If you ever, and I'm sure you will, drive down the peninsula, Barefoot Roasters in Cupertino on Stevens Creek Blvd is an absolute must. Their roasted beans, especially the espresso roasts are out of this world.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Steve
                  JB RE: Steve Jun 23, 2006 05:44 PM

                  Yes I agree! Excellent coffee! Not like the crap you get at Starbucks or other chains.

                2. g
                  Gary Soup RE: Earl Oct 4, 2005 01:58 AM

                  I guess all these younguns don't realize that North Beach has never surrendered its position as the capital of caffe culture in the US, a position that it established more than 50 years ago. Check out Caffe Trieste, Mario's, Malvinas, even upstarts like Roma,Puccini and El Greco. Buy some beans from Graffeo.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Gary Soup
                    Melanie Wong RE: Gary Soup Oct 4, 2005 02:49 AM

                    Uh, Malvina is gone.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      Gary Soup RE: Melanie Wong Oct 4, 2005 03:22 AM

                      RIP Malvina, and its cialde...

                    2. re: Gary Soup
                      Alfred RE: Gary Soup Oct 4, 2005 12:14 PM

                      We younguns do recognize the coffee culture of North Beach. There certainly are some nice places to soak up the old cafe atmosphere, hear Italian spoken, grab a decent (though rarely spectacular) Cannoli. But compare a cap. from Greco with one from Blue Bottle (or Ritual or Organica ...) and you will readily see that the North Beach stuff is mostly mediocre swill. There is a new and small world of folks who are paying a lot of attention to coffee these days. Try them out.

                      1. re: Alfred
                        nooodles RE: Alfred Oct 4, 2005 12:39 PM

                        I'm no coffee snob (yet), but here's how I describe it to people who are still drinking Starbuck's and Foldgers:

                        -with that swill, you have to add sugar.

                        -with a halfway decent place, like Greco or Trieste, you can drink the coffee without sugar. But you're still there mostly to hob nob and soak up the history.

                        -at the places Alfred has mentioned, the thought of destroying the coffee with sugar makes me cringe. IMO, they shouldn't even make sugar available. And everyone's intently concentrating on the coffee, not the photos of Francis Ford Coppola on the walls.

                        1. re: nooodles
                          Steve RE: nooodles Oct 4, 2005 12:54 PM

                          As Bob Dylan's 'Times they are a'changin' is playing in the back ground.

                    3. m
                      MargotB RE: Earl Oct 4, 2005 02:59 PM

                      If you're ever in the East Bay, check out Peaberry's -- just across from the Rockridge BART station. (Rockridge is a "district" of Oakland that is seamlessly close to Berkeley.) They roast and sell beans too.

                      1. d
                        dml RE: Earl Jun 27, 2006 03:53 AM

                        Blue Bottle, hands down. Either from the Hayes Valley kiosk or the cart at Ferry Plaza and Berkeley farmers' markets.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: dml
                          xtrmntr RE: dml Jun 29, 2006 07:32 PM

                          Of course... Bittersweet Cafe carries Blue Bottle beans too. You've been to Bittersweet, right? But that's a whole other thread...

                          1. re: xtrmntr
                            Gary Soup RE: xtrmntr Jun 29, 2006 10:25 PM

                            Blue Bottle delivers seriously under-roasted beans that produce wimped-out coffee, IMHO. Ask them for a dark roast, and they'll laugh in your face.

                        2. s
                          slippersong RE: Earl Jun 29, 2006 12:53 AM

                          Cafe Organica, while excellent, has been closed for awhile. There was notice of a health code violation and renovation. Any thoughts about when they will re-open? Their french press coffee is delicious, but not always quite as hot as you might like. Ritual is totally "Cafe Laptop". It is a scene like Tartine that is almost too much to bear. But, like Tartine, the lines, the yuppies, etc., are worth it. The lattes and coffee at Ritual are so good...the smell of the coffee wafts next door to Lost Weekend video store and makes you crave coffee even when you haven't been thinking you need any.

                          1. p
                            PuffinCA RE: Earl Jun 29, 2006 10:00 PM

                            I love the mochas at Delores Park Cafe. The coffee is roasted in Santa rosa and is a delight on a coolish Sat morning

                            1. a
                              answerman RE: Earl Jun 29, 2006 10:14 PM

                              If you're lookiong for whole bean, check out the "Castro Cheesery."

                              Great coffee that is not expensive.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: answerman
                                GermanShepherdPuppy RE: answerman Apr 25, 2007 10:38 PM

                                I bought coffee beans at the Castro Cheesery last week. They were AWFUL. Which isn't surprising since the beans are kept in transparent bins that have full exposure to the hot afternoon sun that shines in through the picture windows. If you've ever been in that store in the mid afternoon, you would will know that it gets pretty hot and stuffy. The beans that I bought were quite obviously dried and spent by the sunlight. The taste was so bad I threw them out. ...anyhow, so many people talk highly of the place, it was a big disappointment. If you want to buy decent coffee beans in the neighborhood, you are much better off walking a few blocks up Market to Peets. They give you a free cup of coffee with the beans.

                              2. s
                                sylphi RE: Earl Apr 26, 2007 11:23 AM

                                Blue Bottle is a must try as the other posters have said. I also would like to recommend the coffee at Cafe Lo Cubano. They have coffee and expresso drinks that are Cuban-ish. Another one I'd recommend and I just tried this yesterday is Martha's on First St.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: sylphi
                                  Calvinist RE: sylphi Apr 26, 2007 12:25 PM

                                  Ritual's new location is open, but I haven't been there yet. It will probably end up as my go to spot as it's slightly closer to me and I assume parking will be easier.

                                  Ritual Coffee Raosters
                                  (Inside the new Flora Grubb Gardens)
                                  1634 Jerrold Avenue
                                  San Francisco CA 94124

                                  1. re: Calvinist
                                    GermanShepherdPuppy RE: Calvinist Apr 26, 2007 01:52 PM

                                    Aroma Roastery in Santa Rosa is AWESOME. In my opinion, it serves the best cup of coffee in the Bay Area. And I'm not a real big fan of "The Fresno of the North Bay" (Santa Rosa), but Aroma's makes a trip to that dull locale less painful.

                                  2. re: sylphi
                                    GermanShepherdPuppy RE: sylphi Apr 26, 2007 01:46 PM

                                    Blue Bottle is great. They make a great brewed cup of coffee. Phils is awesome as well. Peets seems to be the best of the chains.

                                    A pet peeve of mine is when people claim that a place serves good coffee when they really mean that it serves good lattes. Somebody on this board mentioned that arizmendi bakery serves good coffee. Ahem, they serve good lattes and the like, but they fall flat when it comes to straight brewed coffee. Their brewed coffee is made in infrequent batches and sits in those god awful thermos-type dispensers. Can you say "burnt" ? Many other of the so called "good coffee" places are similar. It's great that Blue Bottle, Phils and Peets are there for those of us who prefer straight coffee.

                                  3. Robert Lauriston RE: Earl Apr 26, 2007 01:58 PM

                                    For whole beans, I think Peet's beats everybody, provided you get the right blend from a store with high turnover. For breakfast, with a drip coffeemaker, I use a 50-50 mix of 101 and Sulawesi-Kalosi. For after dinner, I prefer straight Sulawesi-Kalosi, or if it's available aged Sulawesi.

                                    I appreciate Blue Bottle, but it's just too light for my taste.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      GermanShepherdPuppy RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 26, 2007 02:07 PM

                                      Yes, and they also give a free cup of coffee which each purchase. It virtually knocks 1.60 off of the price.

                                      1. re: GermanShepherdPuppy
                                        Robert Lauriston RE: GermanShepherdPuppy Apr 26, 2007 05:58 PM

                                        If you would have paid for it otherwise. Otherwise, just a nice perk.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          a_and_w RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 27, 2007 03:16 PM

                                          You might be able to get the price of a small coffee deducted from the cost of the pound. Used to be a button on the registers that automatically deducted the price of a small cup of coffee, though I can only recall doing that when someone wanted a more expensive drink (e.g., large coffee, latte, etc.).

                                          1. re: a_and_w
                                            Robert Lauriston RE: a_and_w Apr 27, 2007 03:56 PM

                                            They will give you that discount if you want a more expensive drink.

                                            If you don't want the coffee, they'll usually give you a "rain check" card.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              a_and_w RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 27, 2007 04:25 PM

                                              That must be new -- I don't ever recall giving customers a "rain check" card.

                                              1. re: a_and_w
                                                Robert Lauriston RE: a_and_w Apr 27, 2007 04:44 PM

                                                Not very new, I've been accumulating them for years.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  a_and_w RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 27, 2007 05:11 PM

                                                  Now that you mention it, it's been nearly ten years since I worked at Peet's -- disturbing how time flies. Still, I've been a semi-regular customer since then and have never received such a "rain check." Weird!

                                    2. e
                                      ecstasis_vitae RE: Earl Apr 26, 2007 10:12 PM

                                      Nobody has mentioned my favorite place yet...Simple Pleasures Cafe way out in on 36th and Balboa in the Outer Richmond. They roast their own coffee, and the way that they brew it is unique but delish. Their prices are totally reasonable, and the atmosphere there is not at all pretentious.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: ecstasis_vitae
                                        Robert Lauriston RE: ecstasis_vitae Apr 27, 2007 09:29 AM

                                        What's unique about their brewing method?

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          ecstasis_vitae RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 27, 2007 04:11 PM

                                          They brew using those cool glass caraffe-type cone filters (I used to have one of these I took camping). The resultant coffee is strong and rich without the bitterness often associated with electric drip from seldom-cleaned coffee makers. I should also mention that their bagels are divine...and you can get a bagel with hummus for about two bucks.

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