San Francisco Coffee Shops
There are many great reasons to visit a San Francisco coffee shop.
Maybe you need to rest your bones after a day of huffing up and down San Francisco's steep hills, or perhaps you're an extreme coffee aficionado that wants to find out where to find the best coffee in town.
In either case you're in luck, 'cause this city has a lot to offer in the way of great coffee, as well as great coffee places.
Especially when that San Francisco fog rolls in, there's often nothing more satisfying than wrapping your hands around a warm, freshly brewed "cup of Joe".
The recommendations of San Francisco coffee shops that I've listed below are not just my favorite spots - they are well-liked by many SF locals living in this city.
And no, you won’t find Starbucks on this list. Since they have nearly 20 locations in the downtown area alone, you won’t have any trouble finding them on your own. The places that I have included in this list are here because they either offer exceptionally good coffee, or good coffee with an exceptional vibe.
Here they are, in no particular order...
Blue Bottle Coffee
Super, duper, duper fresh.
Inspired by a desire to serve only extremely fresh, tasty coffee, the man behind the mission made a vow to only sell coffee “less than 48 hours out of the roaster”. The original location is a tiny kiosk located down a small alley. It’s not the kind of place that you would just stumble upon – you have to know it’s there.
315 Linden Street (Hayes Valley)
151 Third Street, Fifth floor (SOMA)
1 Ferry Building, shop #7
66 Mint Street (downtown)
Family business, made with lots of love.
A father-son operated business, with 5 locations in the city, these guys take coffee seriously, and the results demonstrate that dedication. In business for over 25 years, one of their signature blends took 7 years to create. Be patient when you order a coffee – each cup is single-serve, drip coffee, so it takes a little bit of time, but it’ll be worth your wait.
3101 24th St (outer Mission)
201 Berry St (near the Ballpark)
748 Van Ness Avenue (Civic Center)
3901 18th St (Castro) and 1300 Potrero Ave. (border of outer Mission and Potrero Hill)
Matching Half Cafe
Nice place to sit for a while.
This is a gem of a San Francisco coffee shop, located in a quiet neighborhood north of the panhandle. There are no crazy long lines here, just a modern, yet wooded and cozy, sunny interior and succulents decorating each table. They also serve hand-crafted drip coffee, warm and cold sandwiches, and fresh salads. A personal favorite, this is a place where I could sit and stay a while.
Location: 1799 McAllister at Baker (Nopa)
Ritual Roasting Company
Hipster hangout, see and be seen.
The jury is out on whether the coffee here is amazing or not. I like it, and there are many die-hard fans which is why I include it. They tend toward more acidic roasts, and that doesn’t suit everyone. Another reason I mention this place is because it’s very much a scene, representative of the distinct hipster crowd of the Mission. In addition to the coffee, people come here to see and be seen.
1026 Valencia btwn 23rd & 24th (Mission)
1050 Howard St. at Russ St. (SOMA)
Four Barrel Coffee
Go for the donut and coffee combo.
This is the new, favorite alternative to Ritual Roasting Comany for hipsters in the Mission. They serve drip coffee and dynamo (organic!) donuts, with a warm interior and a friendly staff.
Location: 375 Valencia btwn 14th & 15th (Mission)
Java Beach Café
For when you are out at the beach.
This place has a laid-back, surfer vibe to it. Stop in here when you are out at Ocean Beach, and looking for a cozy place to warm up. They serve warm sandwiches, as well as a few beers on tap, and have comfy couches to sit on.
Location: 1396 La Playa St. at Judah (outer Sunset, near Ocean Beach)
*A note about North Beach and San Francisco Coffee Shops…
Since North Beach has a strong Italian history, the residents there have come to expect quality coffee drinks from their cafes, and most of them deliver. You won’t find any drinks with sloppily steamed milk, and yet they still manage to serve them quickly. That means that most cafes in North Beach are a safe bet. That said, I still have a couple of favorites…
A historical landmark, first espresso bar in North Beach.
A family-owned business and bustling café that originally opened in 1956, this place is a North Beach, not to mention San Francisco, landmark, as well as a great spot for observing the camaraderie of the neighborhood. There are a lot of tourists that stroll through North Beach, but for the residents that live there, it is a corner of the city where everyone seems to know each other. Go on Saturday to see the family’s traditional, afternoon, live-music entertainment.
Location: 609 Vallejo at Grant St. (North Beach)
For when you have a sweet tooth.
The service here is friendly and fast, the cappuccinos are well made, and the dessert options having me gazing amorously for several minutes in indecision. Italian inspired cakes and pastries, plus several flavors of excellent gelato make this one of my favorite go-to spots in North Beach.
Location: 423 Columbus Ave. btwn Stockton & Vallejo (North Beach)
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