Coffee in SOMA/Downtown area
I'm a bit of a picky coffee drinker. One of those "Starbucks only under duress" kind of people who grinds coffee every morning before making coffee in a bialetti maker and who doesn't drink the drip at work.
So near my hotel in San Francisco next week at a business meeting, I'd really like to drink non-Starbucks. Google tells me I have a few choices close to the Westin on 3rd between Market Street & Mission Street - what do you think? Which should I prioritize and which should I avoid?
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Blue Bottle Coffee Bar
Boulange de Market
If you're ever in Atlanta, I'd be happy to give coffee shop tips!
From your list, I'd go with Blue Bottle; second choice, La Boulange.
Although it's not a specialty coffee purveyor, Caffe Centro on South Park (btwn 3rd and 2nd) pulls a good espresso.
Problem: the best coffee in SF is in the MIssion, not downtown or in SOMA. If you get to the Mission, try (alphabetically) Four Barrel, Ritual, or Sightglass.
That said, understand that Peet's -- P-E-E-T, as in Alfred Peet -- was one of America's earliest specialty roasters, established in 1966 in Berkeley. People who worked for Peet's left, moved to Seattle, and founded Starbucks. After selling Starbucks to Howard Schultz, they returned to buy Peet's. Peet's was just recently sold to a German company. It's a small chain, better than Starbucks IMHO, but a chain nonetheless, and prone to dark(er) roasts.
The other chain on your list -- The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -- was actually founded earlier, in 1963, and in Los Angeles. I've never been a fan,
Blue Bottle is an Oakland-based micro roaster and, IMHO, is the best of the ones you've listed. But get over to Four Barrel, Ritual, and/or Sightglass (again, listed in alphabetical order).
FWIW, none of the above
- I am not excited by Blue Bottle. But I prefer a darker roast. If light roast is your preference, then you should definitely go with them, knowing it's usually a slow line.
- I buy Peets' beans, but find their espresso drinks generally too burnt for my palette
The other spots aren't coffee destinations per se.
I do recommend hopping in a cab (or muni "street car" to Valencia St or getting some morning exercise and walk about a mile or so) and treating yourself to Four Barrel. It's one of my fave. But the line there can also be slow depending on time of day.
Post-trip update - I went to Sightglass on Sunday, which was excellent. I loved the space, although I didn't have time to stay. I got a latte there, which was very good, although I regretted not getting a macchiato. Their pistachio & blackberry croissant was also good.
Tuesday I went to Blue Bottle, which was even more excellent. I got a macchiato there which was outstanding. Their poached eggs were also amazing! The line was slow, but I really really enjoyed both the coffee & the breakfast there.
Thanks for the suggestions!