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Oct 24, 2012 06:47 PM

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?

Café Gratitude
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Blue Bottle Coffee Bar
Boulange de Market
Cafe Madeleine

If you're ever in Atlanta, I'd be happy to give coffee shop tips!

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  1. 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.

    1. 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).

      2 Replies
      1. re: zin1953

        Thanks for the correction on Peet's - I knew that but must have mistyped.
        And thanks for the recommendations! I might have time 1 morning to venture into the Mission but the other days I will likely want solid coffee but closer to the hotel.

        1. re: zin1953

          Sightglass is in SOMA, not the Mission (on 7th Street). Which is not exactly close to 3rd & Market either. I'd go with Blue Bottle, at Mint Plaza (it's also served at Cafe Central in the San Francisco Center food court (basement level)).

        2. 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.

          1. 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!

            2 Replies
            1. re: laurendlewis

              I stopped by Sightglass for the first time a couple weeks ago. I agree, the pistachio and blackberry croissant was nice, would have been even better if I could have warmed it up a bit. Here's the photo with my cappucino.

              1. re: laurendlewis

                Next time you might add a stop to Farm Table.

                Epicenter is fairly close too, and around the corner from a Whole Food that has a selection of local beans if you ever went so far as brew your own coffee from your hotel.