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Best Coffe Places in San Francisco

I know there are tons of cafes in San Francisco, and lots of opinions about them, but thought I'd ask anyway...

We'll be staying the Presidio so would love recommendations near that area. Just looking for good west coast coffee (we're from the Boston area).

I already plan to go to Tartine.

Thanks!

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  1. Tartine doesn't have especially good coffee.

    Best coffee in the city is Blue Bottle. They have several cafes downtown, including one on the roof of the museum of Modern Art. There are also lots of cafes that make coffee with their beans.

    Not sure where you're staying near the Presidio--in the Marina District or in the Richmond? The produce store on California and 9th or 10th serve Blue Bottle.

    Sightglass Coffee on 7th Street South of Market is also excellent.

    Four Barrel Coffee on Valencia is a cool place, but I'm not sure what people see in their coffee.

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

    Four Barrel Coffee
    375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    Sightglass Coffee
    270 7th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    16 Replies
    1. re: Windy

      Not sure if you're thinking of Blue Fog? They have unfortunately closed that location, but there is a location at Gough/Green that I think still has Blue Bottle.

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

      1. re: sugartoof

        I think it's called Village Market. The owners are French. They sell produce and have a table in the front window. Not a top notch espresso place, but fine for a drip Blue Bottle.

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        Village Market
        4555 California St, San Francisco, CA

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

      2. re: Windy

        You mean YOUR favorite coffee is Blue Bottle. Others might like others like 4 Barrel or Philz or Ritual more. .
        Coffee is personal prefrence. Some even like Dunkin Donuts if they don't like strong coffee..

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

        1. re: jason carey

          Board preference runs strongly against Philz. I like the coffee/chocolate blend at Philz, but their push to add sugar to every cup signals the blends aren't that smooth. Ritual has its supporters, but runs hot and cold. I find their beans to be "hollowed out" (little body), but I like the atmosphere in their coffee shops.

          Blue Bottle is the consensus "best" choice that's widely proclaimed. That siphon coffee in the mint location is excellent. I think Boudrain highlighted the Gibralter on TV.

          That being said, my favorite coffee right now is 4Barrel, because Red Rock cafe in MV has this "single origin" bar (a separate smaller espresso station) where the guy (Michael?) just pulls excellent espresso. He's been working with 4Barrel's ethopian all month, and does wonderful things it it. It's amazing the different tastes he can get out of the same roast. No one in the peninsula is pulling espressos with BB, to my knowledge.

          Barefoot is excellent, but south bay. Flying Goat / Local123 in Berkeley is also a favorite, but hard access for the tourist.

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

          Red Rock Cafe
          1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

          1. re: bbulkow

            Fraiche in Palo Alto pulls shots using Blue Bottle on a La Marzocco. Like all places, the quality is dependent on the barrista (the four M's).

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

            1. re: 12172003

              And since it's not a coffee place, they don't seem to accentuate barrista training. One might get lucky.

              1. re: bbulkow

                Sounds weird. Why would you have great beans, great grinders (and machines) and not do barrista training. Kind of like giving foie gras and a commercial kitchen to someone who doesn't know how to cook. Better off eating at McDonald's.....ok, that's an exaggeration. Anyway, I'll be stopping by later on today to give a report.

                1. re: 12172003

                  One *MIGHT* because most folks view the trappings (beans, machine) and then assume the rest is good - instead of letting the coffee speak for itself. Yogurt places tend to focus on the ingredients and machines and hire very low cost workers, because swirling a yogurt takes no special skill. But prove me wrong!

                  Cafe del Doge, I'm looking at you.

              2. re: 12172003

                I stopped by Fraiche a few months ago for an espresso, and it was far inferior to what I was used to getting at the BB SF locations. I think BB needs to do more quality control inspections. (They may have improved: I haven't been recently).

                But the pour-over BB coffee at Fraiche was great.

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                Fraiche
                644 Emerson St Ste 110, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                1. re: ssfire

                  Unfortunately, after initial training, it would almost be impossible for BB, or any other roaster to monitor all the businesses using a particular roaster. I suggest just go to the source if you want good coffee.

                  1. re: poser

                    BB does impose some loose regulations on how their coffee is sold... I've only seen a pre-brewed kettle at their Japantown outpost, for example. They usually require pour over method, which suggests some attempt at oversight.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      BB has a outpost in Jtown? Or is it another business using BB beans?

                      1. re: poser

                        It's in the New People lobby. I don't think it's an official location (I think it may have been more of an arrangement when it first opened) but there's a logo in the corner.

            2. re: jason carey

              Yes, our posts are signed. They clearly are the preference of whoever's posting them.

              If you want to recommend something, go ahead rather than worrying about mine.

              1. re: jason carey

                Blue Bottle really has become the ambassador roaster for SF. It's credited as really bringing the coffee culture back to the city, and it's east for visitors to find.

                The coffee itself isn't that distinct, or interesting compared to other choices, but it's a solid choice and it tastes like coffee. The Blue Bottle and Four Barrel outposts outside of SF roast differently for a reason.

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

                1. re: sugartoof

                  FWIW, Blue Bottle is an Oakland-based business. I heard that plans to put an outlet in Dolores Park were squashed in part because it wasn't local enough. Don't know how true that is.

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

            3. What's your idea of a good cup, flavor and roast wise?

              For an old school darker roast, from local roasters pre-coffee trends, Graffeo in North Beach, House of Coffee in the Sunset, Farley's ,and then Simple Pleasures on Balboa.

              For newer popular roasters that are leading the way trend and taste wise: Ritual (roasts can be as light as tea), Four Barrel, Sightglass, Blue Bottle (usually a darker roast), Ecco.

              Bridging the gap between the two worlds is Coffee Bar/ Mr. Espresso (which is served at Tartine...it's a good dark roast), and then there's an oddball place called Philz (which is all novelty blends).

              Some interesting roasters that don't have their own shops in SF: Verve, and De La Paz (found at select farmer markets, and around the city at various cafes), and Equator.

              In that area, your options are limited for locally roasted coffees, but Rigolo/La Boulangerie features Equator, and a restaurant called Spruce on Sacramento roasts in house and should be able to sell you a good cup from their panini/charcuterie carry out shop. Not as convenient, there's Mojo Bicycle Cafe on Divisadero with De la Paz and Ritual beans.

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              House of Coffee
              1618 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

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

              Simple Pleasures Cafe
              3434 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

              Mojo Bicycle Cafe
              639-A Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA

              3 Replies
              1. re: sugartoof

                I love Simple Pleasures as a cafe, but not sure I'd recommend their coffee to anyone I liked. They have good snacks and tea, and great characters from the neighborhood.

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                Simple Pleasures Cafe
                3434 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                1. re: Windy

                  I find Simple Pleasures standard blend very similar to Blue Bottles "Three Africas" blend, only it's a hair more bitter/dark. They've been roasting in SF since 1978, and the style of roast definitely reflects it.

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

                  Simple Pleasures Cafe
                  3434 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                2. re: sugartoof

                  Santa Rosa's Ecco Caffe is available on Sunday mornings in San Francisco at the Stonestown farmers market, brewed one cup at a time by Ga Ga Cafe.
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/699157

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                  Ecco Caffe
                  90 Timothy Rd, Santa Rosa, CA

                3. to clarify: is it the coffee or the space (or a bit of both)?

                  1. Ritual Coffee is also pretty good.

                    1. If you wanted to compare Blue Bottle and Ritual at the same time, you could hit up their Hayes Valley locations. BB is at 315 Linden Street -- it's a small alley which opens onto a nice park, where Ritual just opened in the small building (it's a corrugated metal shipping container, actually) they are sharing with Smitten ice cream.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: operagirl

                        Nice tip, I didn't know Ritual was cohabiting with Smitten -- guess that happened since our last trip in April. Great idea for a back to back taste test.