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Best Coffee Shop in Oakland/Berkeley?

Hello Fellow Chowhounds,
I am moving from Ithaca, NY where we have Gimme! Coffee, the best coffee and baristas I have ever encountered. I am bringing 10 lbs with me for home use but, frankly, I get a lot of work done in my neighborhood coffee shop and it reduces my stress to relax and people watch while drinking a perfectly prepared latte, americano or whatever strikes my fancy that day - it's a question of mental health (and neurocognitive enhancement).
I arrive next week - where should I begin the search for my new coffee shop?
Thank you for your help, Christine

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  1. My husband loves all the Peet's. When he travels, he carries Peet's with him. He likes the Fourth St one in Berkeley, and the Montclair Peet's.

    1. I'm a Peet's drinker too, but most Peet's branches aren't great places to hang out. The one on Fourth Street is only when the weather's nice for sitting outside.

      -----
      Cole Coffee - retail store
      307 63rd St, Oakland, CA 94618

      Village Grounds
      1797 Shattuck Ave Ste A, Berkeley, CA 94709

      Guerilla Cafe
      1620 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

      Caffe Trieste
      2500 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        FYI, Village Grounds is closed. A new cafe just opened in its location (fall 2011).

        -----
        Village Grounds
        1797 Shattuck Ave Ste A, Berkeley, CA 94709

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I would find it hard to work in Guerilla as it is a restaurant, too, with no division/secluded areas. Noisy.

        2. It's not difficult to find a coffee shop in the Bay Area; it's finding one that you like, and feel comfortable in that will be the challenge...

          For what you want, you might try Gaylord's [Piedmont Avenue, Oakland]...I like their barristas, and see that there are copious numbers of WiFi Warriors there at all hours...

          There are a lot of Peets Coffee places around; and while they are good hang-outs, not all of them seem conducive to working...there's a relatively new one in the Dimond District [Fruitvale, btwn MacArthur and Montana] that looks pretty welcoming--bonus: it's just a couple of doors down from La Farine bakery...

          Fianlly, there couldn't be more than about 200 or 300 cafes near the campus in Berkeley, so you can always do a caffeine tour of the area, and find something suitable...

          I'll leave it to others to tell you about Solano Avenue and environs...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rapini

            I think that's about it. No shortage but tastes vary widely. Add in purpose and you have another layer. Some places I hang at, I might not meet someone for business, or a fun place might not be a place to read or pull out the laptop. Gee, there's some places I don't go to depending on the time of day...sun in your eye or too busy, etc.

          2. I'm a big fan of Cafe Mokka on Telegraph a few blocks south of Ashby. They are the only east bay coffee shop I've found that makes cappuccino the way I like (wet with no foam). The space is pleasant but the people watching is unfortunately not the best there. Cole Coffee is very good for their drip coffee and sometimes the espresso drinks are excellent. Seating is limited but if you get a seat outside, it is great for people watching on College Ave.

            1. Caffe Trieste and Cafe Leila in North Berkeley are both quite delicious; Leila has comfortable couches and a lovely garden patio, and Trieste has a good crowd all day long and really awesome drip (chemex) coffee as well as espresso drinks.
              If you want good coffee beans, my favorite store is in the city - the Castro Cheesery.
              Where in Ithaca are you from?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Lydia56

                Triese and Leila are both on San Palblo = West Berkeley.

                -----
                Cafe Leila
                1724 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

              2. For the coffee, you can't beat Pete's. There's one now on Telegraph about 3-4 blocks from campus. My favorite coffee shops as student at Cal:

                1. Strada - it's the top grossing coffeeshop in California for a reason (Could be an urban legend though)
                2. Coffee Bean on College near Ashby. Great place to hang out.
                3. Sufficient Grounds - hang out with the freshman ;)

                -wdot
                www.thejadedpalate.com

                1 Reply
                1. re: wdot

                  I think Coffee Bean is really The Beanery. The coffee is o.k. not Peets , but a good place to hang and hook up the computer , lots of plugs too. A nice outdoor patio. You can stay as long as you like and not feel guilty. This is a serious place, meaning it is quiet like a library...which is good but bad if you are with friends and want to chat. I feel guilty talking :)

                2. Welcome! Peets is almost impossible to get any work done in. Great coffee, pretty much
                  the standard for out here, but get it to go. The Peets corporation has clearly consulted
                  with the same customer turnover experts as Starbucks -- seats that look comfy but get
                  real hard after 10 minutes, temperature turned just slightly too far down, etc.

                  Don't worry too much about running out of your 10lb bag, there's some excellent stuff
                  out here.

                  In Berkeley, maybe try a few places and then report back and we can help fine-tune
                  things? My suggestions would be first Caffe Strada directly across from the university
                  on Bancroft and College. Perfect location for a cafe. Mostly outdoor patio seating.
                  Coffee is ok.

                  Second, Espresso Roma cafe. About a mile south of Strada on College at Ashby.
                  There are a million people in there working all the time. You can stay forever and no
                  one will give you a hint of a dirty look. Pretty average food and ok beer also
                  available. Wireless, but it's not free.

                  Cole Coffee, another mile or so south of Roma on College near Claremont. My
                  favorite coffee in the area. A bit of a weird space that either takes some getting used
                  to or you may never get used to it at all. Coffee is all individually produced either
                  cone-filtered or french pressed (or espressoed but that's not so good). And you've
                  got a choice of about 15 different beans for your drink. If the organic Timor is
                  available, get it; otherwise, the peru and sumatra are good. There's a really highly
                  caffeinated light roast "flor de cana" which kept me awake for three days.

                  Probably none of these is just right but they might make it easier to judge your taste
                  than just a description of that Gimme! place. The options are all over the map. Just
                  in case you don't realize what you're getting into ... we more or less invented the coffee
                  thing out here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/03/us/...

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                    Thank you for all for the good advice. I did go to Cole Coffee when I came out for interviews. I had a simply bizarre americano - almost cold and very thin - not the the depth of flavors and body that I am use to. But, I see from Chuckles post that espresso drinks are not Cole's strength. I look forward to beginning my coffee research - I will keep you posted. In case you are interested in Gimme...

                    1. re: cgenero

                      I'm so with you on Cole's.

                      If you can venture out in another direction on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito there's 33 Revolutions which is a GREAT place to sit and work. They serve Ritual coffee which most people like more than I do.

                      If you venture VERY far up, there's Catahoula Coffee in Richmond. This is a small, new independant roaster. I think his coffe works better as an espresso drink, though as he has been developing his style it has been getting better and better.

                      Cafe Mokka is good. They serve Equator coffee which the French Laundry serves. Sometimes they get some limited edition coffees.

                      On weekday mornings Pizaollo is open and serve Blue Bottle and they do a very nice job of espresso drinks ... in fact that is all they serve, espresso. Blue Bottle is a local favorite by a roaster for a passion for coffee. He inssists that anyone serving his coffee make it to order either single cup drip or French press.

                      Not every blend is perfect, but it can be interesting. My favorite is the three Africans blend which Guerilla Cafe serves. Bittersweet on College has a special blend for them. You should stop off at the Blue Bottle Cafe in SF when you have a chance. In SF, I love the beans at Graffeo. I'm forgetting who serves that in the East Bay since I usually just buy the beans and make that at home. The dark roast will scrape the paint off your car ... love it.

                      1. re: rworange

                        went to 33 Revs last week, I agree -- pretty chill place to sit and work, plenty of counterspace, tables, chairs, sofas and outlets. Think it's free wi-fi after a$5 purchase. Not too crowded, which I prefer like some of th places in Berkeley and decent parking/close to BART.

                        First time having RR coffee, not really sure what I expected but thought it'd be better. Will give it another shot soon

                        1. re: rworange

                          I'll ad the caveat that Blue Bottle is part of the so-called Third Wave and roasts for the delicate palate. I don't know if I had any Gimme! in New York (my daughter nailed me to Cafe Grumpy) so I don't know if it's of the same ilk. If it's a more grownup brew, then Peets, Graffeo, Trieste or Caffe Roma beans may be more to the OP's liking.

                        2. re: cgenero

                          cqenero
                          It wasn't until your last post that I realized that Gimmel in your opening post was Gimme!. I thought it was very New York to name a coffee house everything coffee. Think dreidal.
                          Gimmel ("gantz"or "everything" in Yiddish) - Take all tokens from the pot

                        3. re: Chuckles the Clone

                          I'm a Peetnik (and have been since ca. 1968) but I hasten to add that the coffee "thing" was not invented by Alfred Peet. Caffe Trieste (the original North Beach location) was doing it a good 10 years before the first Peet's opened, and Graffeo was Coffee was producing its hearty Eurostyle roast even earlier than that.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            Trieste et al. were/are european cafes serving european styled coffee in
                            european formats. While they were immensely important in their local
                            neighborhoods, their local neighborhood was the extent of the influence.
                            What Peet did was change the way America understands coffee. This is
                            very different from what the Trieste was doing.

                            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                              Both Caffe Trieste and Peets did the same thing: they showed those in their sphere of influence that there was better coffee out there than Folgers. I daresay Peets' model was dark, Eurostyle roasts too; after all Alfred Peet grew up in Europe "in the coffee trade" (per Peets' website). I had been drinking North Beach coffee since 1962 and when I did my hard time at UC in the late 60's it was a seamless transition from the honest dark roasts I was fond of at Caffe Trieste and Leo Krikorian's The Engima to the honest dark roasts at Peet's and the Cafe Mediterraneum. (The Med, incidentally also preceded Peet's by a decade and, due to its proximity to campus and location at Telegraph Avenue's ground zero probably directly influenced more people that Peets did in the pre-Starbucks days.)

                              Peets' influence was also limited to its local neighborhood for the first coiple of dacades; if you want to give credit, it was Peets' stepchild Starbucks (founded using Peets' beans) the took the message on the road.

                            2. re: Xiao Yang

                              Caffe Trieste in NB has been my go to place when visiting San Francisco for 25 years. Best espresso.

                              http://www.caffetrieste.com/

                              1. re: monku

                                Coincidentally I was walking by Caffe Trieste a few days ago and had to go in based on reputation. I ordered an espresso. In the order of impression. Coffee was dark and oily. Coffee was pre-ground and sitting in the doser. Portafilter was not wiped clean which often leads to over extracted coffee remnants and channeling. Shot was stopped about 10 seconds after it started to blond. Shot was pulled long...probably about 3 ounces. No crema whatsoever typical of old beans. Taste resembled charcoal typical of over-roasted (dark and oily) coffee beans. I asked about their beans out of curiosity and they guy proudly said "They are from Italy" which explains why they are old. I tried but I couldn't even finish the espresso. A huge disappointment to say the least.

                                -----
                                Caffe Restaurant
                                1854 Euclid Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                1. re: 12172003

                                  completely agree that Trieste is completely blah

                                  1. re: escargot3

                                    Agreed, when I finally tried it I asked myself, all this hype was for the taste of char? Pass.

                                    1. re: 12172003

                                      Trieste's coffee is not from Italy. They have their own roasting plant in SF.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        I thought CT use to have a small roasting shop next door to their North Beach caffe...or at least they did. Use to walk by it all the time.

                                        1. re: ML8000

                                          I don't know if Caffe Trieste still roasts some coffee in the little shop next door to the original cafe, but their main roasting facility is on 25th St. near 280.

                                          -----
                                          Caffe Restaurant
                                          1854 Euclid Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          The guy definitely said it was from Italy. Doesn't matter. It was horrendous and undrinkable. If a coffee shop can't make good espresso, they should stick to someone simple: great beans, great grinder and a pour-over or Chemex.

                                          1. re: 12172003

                                            Maybe they grow the beans in Italy ... that would explain a lot.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Kind of like how Starbucks grows their beans in Seattle. That would explain a lot too. ;) hehehe.

                                        3. re: 12172003

                                          Thanks for the heads up.
                                          Definitely not good to hear.

                                  2. Au Cocoulet at University and Milvia in Berkeley is my favorite, and a great choice. The Baristas are excellent, they are open late, and the atmosphere is conducive to work.
                                    Don't forget to check out the back room.

                                    -----
                                    Au Coquelet Cafe Restaurant
                                    2000 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                    1. I've never been to Gimme! Coffee, but I know it by reputation, and it's a very serious cafe with exceptionally well trained baristas. If you're looking for a "perfectly prepared latte, americano or whatever," you're going to have a tough time finding that in the East Bay. The baristas at Caffe Trieste are simply clueless, and the same is true of most of the other places mentioned here. Moka does a pretty good job, as does Bittersweet. I find Peet's does a surprisingly good job of training their baristas, but their focus has always been on brewed coffee. They didn't even have an exclusive espresso blend until 2002, and when they finally came up with Espresso Forte, it was a pretty big disappointment. La Med on Telegraph has a new owner as of two or three years ago, and he takes espresso very seriously.

                                      The best espresso drinks you're going to find are in San Francisco at Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, and Ritual, all of which take fanatic care with the training of their baristas, which is the bottom line when it comes to espresso. Doesn't matter how good the beans are. If the baristas are poorly trained, the coffee is going to suck.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: TopoTail

                                        I know this thread is years old, but I share cgenero sentiment! I moved to Berkeley from Ithaca in 2005. For a long while I could not find any coffee shop here that rivaled Gimme! (Blue Bottle was not known then, Peets was meh! And some of the coffee shops mentioned above are totally below par!). It was really hard when you have your coffee palate trained by Gimme! and people accused me for being snobbish. *sigh*

                                        But these days, I am quite satisfied with Guerilla Cafe. They brew Blue Bottle and most of their baristas are very well trained. The baristas won't take it personally if you return the espresso drinks if they are not up to your particular standard :).

                                      2. I like Hudson Bay Cafe, and the cappuccino (and sticky bun) I ordered at the Bittersweet on College(didn't try anything else).

                                        FYI: http://oaklandnorth.net/2010/08/25/co...

                                        Edit: Just realized I responded to an old thread that was recently bumped.

                                        -----
                                        Bittersweet Cafe
                                        5427 College Ave, Oakland, CA

                                        Hudson Bay Cafe
                                        5401 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: prima

                                          If we're bumping up this old thread, I never had anything at Hudson Bay that was reasonable. Peaberry's in Market hall was OK though - and for that side of the world, Cole Coffee up by Claremont is better than either.

                                          Or has Hudson Bay improved? How would you compare it to either of those?

                                          -----
                                          Hudson Bay Cafe
                                          5401 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                                          Cole Coffee
                                          3179 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94705

                                        2. Blue bottle, imho, is some of the best coffee in the bay area. Theres a coffee shop on webster in oakland, though i've only been to the cafe on mint and in the embarcadero. Peets is good, but not as subtle as bluebottle.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: chuckl

                                            I don't believe anyone has mentioned Local 123 on San Pablo just south of University. Until they opened a couple of years ago there was no cafe in the East Bay that I would send people to. They prepare both drip and espresso to very exacting standards and use Flying Goat coffee. It's also a nice spot to hang out, though laptops dominate.

                                            I just lose it when people go on about the Trieste, which has not changed a thing about the way they operate in 30 years. They uniformly overextract their espresso drinks. They prepare brewed coffee in big Chemexes, which is good, but immediately destroy it by leaving the Chemex sitting on a hot plate.

                                            Peet's does drip about as well as it can be done by a place that doesn't prepare it to order and their baristas generally do a pretty good job with espresso drinks, though their main focus has always been on drip coffee.

                                            Other serious cafes in the East Bay include Remedy (Telegraph & 43rd), which uses Ritual beans and is a large and pleasant space; subrosa (40th and Webster), which uses Four Barrel beans but isn't a spot to hang out I think they have two or three stools, but it's really a take out place); and Blue Bottle, which does an excellent job on drip and espresso. Their East Bay cafe occupies one corner of their roasting plant at Third and Webster in Oakland, and you're not likely to get better coffee anywhere. It's bigger than subrosa, but not a hang-out type of spot.

                                            -----
                                            Blue Bottle
                                            151 Third St, San Francisco, CA

                                            Local 123
                                            2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                            1. re: TopoTail

                                              Do others find Four Barrel coffee to be overly acidic? I had an espresso at Subrosa awhile back made with their beans (don't recall which variety), and while a charitable descriptor would be "distinctive", the one that sprung first to mind was "holy jesus, this is the sourest espresso I've ever had in my life". I've had similarly unimpressive experiences with single-cup drip coffee at home using Four Barrel beans - is it just me?

                                              -----
                                              Subrosa
                                              419 40th St, Oakland, CA 94609

                                              1. re: Spatlese

                                                I would call most of their beans "wine-y". Sour would be better. The guys down at Red Rock seem to have the trick of turning it "citrus-y", but I know what you're talking about.

                                                -----
                                                Red Rock Cafe
                                                1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

                                                1. re: Spatlese

                                                  Could be a number of factors. Some factors:
                                                  1. how many days after roast are the beans?
                                                  2. how far in advance are you grinding the beans before brewing?
                                                  3. What kind of grinder are you using?
                                                  4. What method of brewing are you doing?
                                                  5. How fine are you making the grind?
                                                  6. What kind of coffee is it? Different coffees can taste completely different.
                                                  7. How finely are you controlling the temperature of the water? Have you tried higher or lower?

                                                  As for espresso, the world's best barista can pull sink shots from time to time. If it is that bad, tell them that. They should be more than happy to make you a new shot. And if they make you a god shot, tell them too.

                                                  My experience with their Friendo Blendo blend a year ago was positive. I got a bag from Red Rocks about 2 months ago that was marked fresh but was definitely old beans by the way it was pulling using my Baratza Vario grinder + La Spaziale Vivaldi. I got a new bag. 4-5 days after roast it pulled well but still tasted overly acidic at all temperatures ranging from 92C to 96C and from 25 sec espresso to 40 second ristretto. Overall, for this combination, I gotta agree with you. It was undrinkable for my tastes.

                                                  For local coffees, my go to beans are Verve The Sermon but that is only because I don't have Ecco or Stumptown beans sold near by.

                                                  -----
                                                  Red Rock Cafe
                                                  1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

                                                  Ecco
                                                  322 Lorton Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010

                                                  1. re: 12172003

                                                    FWIW, I actually *prefer* Verve to both Ecco and Stumptown . . . .

                                                    -----
                                                    Ecco
                                                    322 Lorton Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010

                                            2. You could also try Local 123 on San Pablo Ave (at University) or Modern Coffee on 13th in Oakland. Both serve a variety of specialty coffees - Sightglass, Temple, Intelligentsia, Verve, Flying Goat, etc. Both do espresso as well as manual brew. Food at Local 123 is v. good and that seems like a neighborhood type place where people sit and hang out.
                                              Good luck!

                                              http://www.moderncoffeeoakland.com/

                                              -----
                                              Local 123
                                              2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Joyce Klassen

                                                What about Philz? My husband and I recently went to the shop on Shattuck and I thought the coffee was fantastic and the atmosphere was filled with people reading and working on laptops. There are comfortable chairs and it looks like a place where you could tuck in for hours. The cookies/pastries were just okay.

                                                1. re: Joyce Klassen

                                                  I'd add Bica (on College in Rockridge, right near Trader Joe's and BART): great coffee, good place to sit, crappy wifi.
                                                  Farleys: very good coffee, lots of food choices, reliable wifi
                                                  Remedy Coffee: great coffee, relaible wifi, can be too full of hipsters but good

                                                  -----
                                                  Farley's East
                                                  33 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                  Remedy Coffee
                                                  4316 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA

                                                  Bica Coffeehouse
                                                  5701 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                                                  1. re: jade408

                                                    Bica? Bica is slang for an espresso shot in Portugal. They don't do Portuguese style espresso drinks or pastries, do they?

                                                    1. re: scarmoza

                                                      They have a cortado (akin to a gibraltar), but no special pastries. :) Not sure if more portuguese items are on the way. Nice coffee selection though. They pic lots of roasters and switch up the providers regularly.

                                                  2. re: Joyce Klassen

                                                    Another good word for Local 123. The best-made espresso to be had in the East Bay, but not for the faint of heart. Variety of locally-sourced coffees (single cups dripped to order) rotates, staff is knowledgeable, skilled with the machines and the foam. The space is inviting (sunnt open courtyard in the back)--as you walk in, you'll see a phalanx of tables covered with laptops next to cappucinos that have been nursed for hours. Menu is small but everything (especially pastries) is well-prepared. Don't park on San Pablo or University; there is unmetered (but time-limited) parking on the smaller streets east of San Pablo.

                                                    -----
                                                    Local 123
                                                    2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                  3. Can't believe that people are recommending Peets. Peets may have been good 20 years ago. If you are serious about coffee head to Local 123 on San Pablo Ave in Berkeley for the best Espresso and Cappuccino.

                                                    -----
                                                    Local 123
                                                    2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                    12 Replies
                                                    1. re: vinoareni

                                                      Local 123 gets their coffee from Flying Goat.

                                                      I like Peet's beans, if not their prices, but that's another topic:

                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7609...

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Local 123 buys from Flying Goat, Coava (Portland), and Sightglass now. I still tend to like the Flying Goat roasts the best.

                                                        The baristas at 123 are very good.

                                                        -----
                                                        Local 123
                                                        2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                        1. re: abstractpoet

                                                          Echo that: baristas at 123 are as good as they get. Owners are very, very interested in maintaining the quality of your cuppa.

                                                          I think they also source beans from Verve, too, in addition to the ones mentioned above.

                                                          If Philz didn't exist, 123'd be my vote for Best in the Bay -- as it is, they're chasing my Philzophilia hard and well. (And while we're on it, how is it possible that Philz isn't getting more love in here? Their Tesora? The Philtered Soul? Hello?)

                                                          1. re: uberslop

                                                            Philz doesn't get love because they don't deserve it. Philz is really mediocre. That is just my opinion, however.

                                                            1. re: poser

                                                              Might not be an opinion, might be an objective fact. I've tried Philz more than once, and do not see the appeal at all.

                                                              1. re: Rapini

                                                                Agreed. Philz is for people who want to fool themselves into thinking they're getting better coffee by paying exorbitant prices.
                                                                FWIW, you can't get a better cup of coffee than at Cole Coffee on 63rd and College in Oakland. Brew by the cup (where they've been doing it that way since long before it was trendy). Great variety of beans and blends to choose from. And the best sidewalk seating of any coffeehouse in Berkeley or Oakland.

                                                                -----
                                                                Cole Coffee
                                                                3179 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94705

                                                                1. re: peterme

                                                                  I am not a fan of Cole's, but I haven't tried much of their coffee. I was so put off by the attutude of the staff (and some customers) that I am reluctant to return. If you go during busy hours seating is a problem and I don't see anything special enough about it.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    Wow. I, of course, strenuously disagree -- but it's fun to see the hounds unite in a strong-armed consensus. For what it's worth, I'd never heard of Philz when I moved out here, and wandered into the equivalent of a double-blind controlled study of sorts -- i.e., utter ignorance combined with a negative impression of the place itself (my first Phillatio was in the Castro) had me thinking I was just going to get a quick coffee-of-convenience while I waited for a friend. Then -- kablam -- I tasted one of the most delicious coffees I'd ever had. I've been to Remedy (which I'm not a big fan of), 123 (which I'm a huge fan of), Cole, multiple Blue Bottles, multiple Rituals (including my favorite, the one at Flora Grubb), and while we can quibble about favorites, I can assure you that it's silly not to include Philz in and among this group.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Blue Bottle Cafe
                                                                    66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                    1. re: uberslop

                                                                      In the FWIW Dept., here's my highly personal, subjective POV . . .

                                                                      East Bay:
                                                                      Not a fan of Cole's; not a fan of Philz; Remedy (sadly) was better, IMHO, before they opened, when they were selling drinks on the sidewalk. Blue Bottle near Jack London is good, but there are better options in the Bay Area as a whole.

                                                                      In the City:
                                                                      I like Ritual, Four Barrel, Sightglass, and, to a lesser degree, Blue Bottle. When I'm at the Ferry Bldg., for instance, I usually get an espresso from Frog Hollow -- last time I was there, they were pulling Verve from Santa Cruz.

                                                                    2. re: rworange

                                                                      Re: "Peet's does drip about as well as it can be done by a place that doesn't prepare it to order ": the big-ass Emeryville location now has a huge island where you can get any roast they have, single-cup dripped to order! (I've asked about their plans to roll this out to other stores and it seems like it's not happening any time soon....)

                                                                  2. re: Rapini

                                                                    Agreed . . . Philz opened up down the hill from me, and I haven't been impressed. Gave them 3 tries, too . . . .

                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                      My one positive experience with Philz was the house+moka drip. I will not give a general rating of them, because I agree --- 3 times.

                                                        2. I'm a Pete's guy myself (and not much of a hanger out), but if I was going to hang out it would be in the North Beach Cafe Trieste. But bring your own half and half, if you use it- for some reason it is not generally available in North Beach coffee houses (or wasn't when I was working there a few years ago.

                                                          -----
                                                          Cafe Trieste
                                                          199 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                          1. The only places that I'd add to this list is Subrosa. (only a counter/patio) for seating. Modern Coffee is also excellent but it is only open on weekdays.

                                                            -----
                                                            Subrosa
                                                            419 40th St, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                            Modern Coffee
                                                            411 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                            1. Others have mentioned a number of cafes that serve great coffee: Local 123 and Bica come to mind as some of the best-quality drip coffee in the area.

                                                              Cafe Yesterday is a relative newcomer (opened in 2011) that serves excellent coffee, has great staff, and is a very fine place to hang out. Definitely worth a visit.

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                                                              Local 123
                                                              2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: dbyler

                                                                2 more options:
                                                                Boot and Shoe Service is now serving coffee from 7-3 or 4 on days the restaurants open. It is Sightglass. Excellent pastries as well, and there is a small lunch menu?

                                                                Also try the new spot on Piedmont Ave, Local Cafe. They are serving Graffeo beans. Well prepared, but it is a darker roast.

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                                                                Boot and Shoe Service
                                                                3308 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                                                                Local Cafe
                                                                4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                              2. Cafe 817 under Sandro used to serve very delicious espressso. Sandro was two owners ago...

                                                                Oliveto across from Rockridge Bart has excellent coffee and pastry. Italian style.

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                                                                Cafe 817
                                                                817 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607

                                                                Oliveto Cafe
                                                                5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                1. Cafe Yesterday on University serves some good coffee and food..