Where to Sip Coffee in SF
7 killer cups and breakfasts to get your morning going.
Trouble Coffee and Coconut Club
Coffee and toast obsessives flock to this tiny storefront in the Outer Sunset for potent cups of French roast coffee made with Intelligentsia beans and thick slices of Pullman loaf covered in butter, cinnamon and sugar. (Fun fact: Trouble is the originator of San Francisco's artisanal toast craze.) Order the "Build Your Own Damn House" and you'll receive a trifecta of goodies: a slice of cinnamon toast, a young Thai coconut; and a cup of java. There's limited indoor seating, but don't let this deter you — there are communal benches outside and the Pacific Ocean is just a five-minute jaunt away. Trouble has a second, even tinier location across the city in Bayview, as well as a spacious storefront in West Oakland.
This sunbathed cafe on Divisadero is a collab between San Francisco coffee roaster Four Barrel and the mastermind behind The Mill's exquisite breads, pastries and toast, Josey Baker (yes, that's her real name). Four Barrel Coffee sources its beans from third-generation farmers in Latin America, Indonesia and East Africa. Baker grinds the whole grain flour for her loaves in house — they range from sourdough country bread to black pepper-parmesan — and covers thick slices with toppings like herb chicken salad, local jam, apple butter, and housemade "nutella."
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Philz is the official go-to for Facebook employees, and it's not hard to see why. Although there are no lattes, cappuccinos or espressos at Philz, there are 20 customized drip blends made from beans roasted in the company's plant in nearby Oakland. If you want to get a little wild with your caffeinated beverage, order the Mint Mojito Iced Coffee, made from cold brew, fresh mint leaves, whole milk and raw sugar. There are 12 Philz locations (and a Philz truck) in San Francisco, so you can secure a cup of the Mark Zuckerberg-approved java no matter where in the city you find yourself.
Saint Frank founder Kevin Bohlin believes that coffee is every bit as complex as the world's finest wines and spirits, with unique terroir and varietal characteristics. Bohlin's stunning specialty coffee bar in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood — all light wood, white tiles, and natural light — is the place to enjoy coffee meticulously sourced by Bohlin and roasted by Ritual Coffee Roasters. Don't overlook Saint Frank's housemade almond milk and the shop's coffee sodas, made with chocolatey espresso and tonic.
Blue Bottle Coffee
The Blue Bottle Coffee empire consists of ten cafes in the Bay Area and more than twice that internationally; but don’t think that cafes in New York, Tokyo, and L.A. means compromised quality. The coffee at every Blue Bottle location is sold within 48 hours out of the roaster, and every prospective Blue Bottle barista must pass a test in front of a barista jury before they can work for the company. If you have time to hit up only one location while in SF, head to the shop in Hayes Valley — it's hidden in an alleyway lined with gorgeous graffiti and murals. If you're feeling peckish, treat yourself to a ginger-molasses cookie or a gruyere-pimento pretzel bun; both are fine accompaniments to a Hayes Valley Espresso pulled from the shop's La Marzocco Linea machine.
The owner of Sextant, Kinani Ahmed, is a first-generation Ethiopian and works directly with farmers across Ethiopia, Kenya and Colombia to source flavorful and complex coffees. His SoMa cafe and roastery has a moody industrial vibe, complete with exposed brick, beams and plenty of seating. If you're learning a new programming language or writing a business plan for your tech startup, know that Sextant has free Wifi and serves a rich Red Eye (drip coffee with a shot of espresso).
This Lambretta-themed coffee kiosk is tucked away in an alley next to Little Skillet, the popular SoMa takeout window that dishes out fried chicken and waffles. Post up at one of the bar tables outside to enjoy your macchiato or pour-over made strictly with Blue Bottle beans, and perhaps a chocolate croissant or chocolate chip cookie. We love the refreshing New Orleans iced coffee made with whole milk, simple syrup and espresso.
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