HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

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!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  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.

    -----
    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.

      -----
      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.

        -----
        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..

        -----
        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.

          -----
          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).

            -----
            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.

                -----
                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.

                -----
                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.

                  -----
                  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.

              -----
              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.

                -----
                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.

                  -----
                  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

                  -----
                  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.

                      2. Thanks for all the great suggestions! I'm mainly looking for places where there is good espresso (great crema, etc.) and also good dark roast coffee. It's been 5years since we were in San Francisco and we had great coffee then, but i can't remember any cafe names. Looking at Google maps it looks like we'll be in Presidio Heights.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: EatinginMass

                          I like Four Barrel espresso the best. .. others will argue ad infinitum.

                        2. Blue Bottle (I 2nd, 3rd, 4th the opinion or whatever number we are on)....

                          I would also mention near the Presidio that the Grove is nice place to chill with a cup of coffee. They have good bacon too, but it is not "connoisseur coffee" place. Also I think the ambience adds to the coffee experience out in the Chrissy Field buildings (headed to Fort Point) its called the Warming Hut.

                          Grove Cafe - 2250 Chestnut St San Francisco, CA

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

                          Warming Hut
                          983 Marine Drive, San Francisco, CA

                          Blue Bottle
                          151 Third St, San Francisco, CA

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: myst

                            I'm pretty sure Warming Hut carries Equator Coffee, and supposedly does a good job with it. Plus the location can't be beat. Equator's beans win awards outside SF (especially for their Ethiopean origin), but it's mostly taken for granted as a 2nd rate coffee.

                            -----
                            Warming Hut
                            983 Marine Drive, San Francisco, CA

                          2. Can't believe I forgot, Ma'velous makes a heck of a pot of coffee. The owner, Phil, is ridiculously attentive to detail. Great place for espresso drinks as well.

                            -----
                            Ma'velous
                            1408 Market St, SF, CA 94102

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: operagirl

                              We enjoyed our time at Ma'velous in the spring. Are they still serving Stumptown?

                              -----
                              Ma'velous Coffee and Wine Bar
                              1408 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                              1. re: grayelf

                                Don't have the answer - but just wanted to add that Ma'Velous usually has a selection of 3-4 different roasters. Usually Intellegentsia, Ecco and a Norwegian roaster.

                                I do think Dynamo carried Stumptown at one point as well, and still might.
                                For whatever it's worth, Stumptown recently sold it's majority interest. Whatever that means, time will tell.

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

                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  Is the Norwegian roaster Tim Wendelboe?

                                  1. re: 12172003

                                    "Is the Norwegian roaster Tim Wendelboe?"

                                    That's it. Have you tried it?

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      They were closed this entire weekend so wasn't able to try it.

                                      I have had Tim Wendelboe before during a cupping. Had 2 or 3 and all were of the highest quality compared with Intelligentsia, Ecco and Stumptown.

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

                                  2. re: sugartoof

                                    The selection was one of the reasons we stopped by but the day we went (bad luck?) it was only Stumptown. Not really a problem in the end as the coffee was excellent and we can only buy it here, not have it made for us :-).

                                  3. re: grayelf

                                    To be honest I don't know exactly what they're serving -- I usually tell Phil what I'm in the mood for as to flavor/acidity/roast, etc., and then I let him pick what to brew. More fun that way, I think!

                                    1. re: operagirl

                                      In my experience, leaving it to the houses choice resulted in an outrageously expensive cup from their most pedestrian offerings I would never have ordered. A friend also stumped them simply by asking for something without heavy fruity notes.

                                      If you order a pot they provide you with espresso sized shot glasses to drink from, which means if you care for cream and sugar in your coffee, it's non-stop fussing every 4 sips. Not that there was cream and sugar (at the time) without a special request, and a stern lecturing by the owner.

                                      I'd go back, but only asking the price first, only asking for the beans I want, and probably just taking out a single cup.

                                2. Check out Sightglass on 7th near Folsom...though the full space has not quite been opened yet, they have a little garage bar serving their fantastic house roasted chemex coffee and what in my opinion is the best espresso in SF (I just moved here so take that with a grain of salt) its not near the Presidio but worth the trip if you are a coffee enthusiast.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Courduroy

                                    I have been trying to find Sightglass closer to home. No website info on where else it might be brewed. Any tips?

                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      As far as I can tell you can only buy it there or order it via their website...they hand roast everything in a single antique machine

                                      1. re: Courduroy

                                        Their Owl's Howl espresso blend is amazing as an espresso. Very complex. Doesn't hold up with milk though. I haven't had their SO's yet.

                                        1. re: Courduroy

                                          Rainbow carries their beans, prebagged and in the loose bins.

                                          I prefer their blends to the single source options, but agree about not holding up to milk, at least when brewed in a press pot.

                                        2. re: bbulkow

                                          Local 123 often has a Sightglass option or two among their drip coffees.

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

                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                            Sightglass is served at Hooker's Sweet Treats cafe in the Tenderloin too. 442 Hyde Street.

                                            -----
                                            Hooker's Sweet Treats
                                            442 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA

                                            1. re: Frosty Melon

                                              Awesome...I was unaware that it was available anywhere else (obviously) there is something alluring about that little garage on 7th lol

                                        3. Martha & Bros is excellent