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Eight Great San Francisco Coffee Shops

by Moderator September 2011 - last edited April 2013

The west coast states of America take their coffee very seriously, and along with Seattle and Portland, the San Francisco coffee scene is overflowing with small batch roasters and baristas who are experts in the entire gourmet coffee cycle from the selection of beans to the blending, from the roasting to the brewing. Not all of our choices are aimed purely at the connoisseur, but they do all offer a superbly crafted cup. From SOMA to the Mission District, Nob Hill to Castro, here's a selection of our favourite coffee shops in the city by the Bay...

 

Ma'velous Coffee and Wine Bar

Ma'velous Coffee and Wine Bar, Market Street, San Francisco © 2010 MA-Velous

Ma'velous Coffee and Wine Bar, Market Street, San Francisco © 2010 MA-Velous

 

Ma'velous has got to the be the coolest coffee bar in town. Its interior colours are based on the rich palette of coffee, from the green fruit ripening into golden yellow, then red, through to a dark espresso once roasted. Huge importance is placed on the quality of your coffee, so take a seat while your carefully selected roast is brewed in any one of six different ways, including a French press and a Kyoto cold slow drip coffee maker, imported from Japan.

Ma'velous Coffee and Wine Bar, 1408 Market Street (at Polk St), San Francisco

Blue Bottle Cafe

Siphon Bar at the Blue Bottle Cafe, Mint Plaza, San Francisco by kennymatic on Flickr

Siphon Bar at the Blue Bottle Cafe, Mint Plaza, San Francisco by kennymatic on Flickr

 

While we're on the subject of Japan, check out Blue Bottle Cafe's $20k state-of-the-art five light siphon bar, imported from the Japanese Lucky Cremas company, after years of discussion according to this New York Times article. Coffee aficionados will think they've died and gone to heaven when they step foot inside these doors, but regular java lovers shouldn't feel intimidated. Cappucinos, macchiatos and lattes are all on the menu too, as well as a great selection of breakfast treats - try the roasted corn bread with Italian sausage or the Belgian style waffles.

Blue Bottle Cafe, Mint Plaza, 66 Mint Street, San Francisco

Ritual Coffee Roasters

 

Another haven for true connoisseurs, Ritual Coffee Roasters is located in hipster central on Valencia Street. This light and spacious Mission District cafe is often rammed to the gills with creative types, entrepreneurs and students and it can sometimes take a while to get your cuppa joe. But when you understand that thirty individual steps go into each and every shot of espresso, as the above video demonstrates, you know that it'll be worth the wait.

Ritual Coffee Roasters, 1026 Valencia (at 21st St) San Francsico

Contraband Coffee Bar

Contrabrand Coffee Bar, Larkin St, San Francisco © Ron Starr and Contrabrand CoffeeContrabrand Coffee Bar, Larkin St, San Francisco © Ron Starr and Contrabrand Coffee
  
This Nob Hill coffee shop is a real neighbourhood hub, offering its long sleek wooden tables as a meeting place for community groups and its white walls as a gallery for local artists. Contraband's Saturday tastings or 'Coffee Labs' also give those less knowledgeable folk like us the opportunity to learn about our single origins and our pour-over drips, and the chance to appreciate the difference between Balinese, Ethiopian and Bolivian Organic beans.
 

Contrabrand Coffee Bar, Larkin Street, San Francisco

Stella Pastry and Cafe

Stella Pastry and Cafe by www.bluewaikiki.com on FlickrStella Pastry and Cafe by www.bluewaikiki.com on Flickr

Stella Pastry and Cafe is not so much a destination for coffee freaks in the way that our previous four choices are; rather it is a truly lovely Italian bakery and cafe that just so happens to serve top-notch espresso and velvety smooth lattes and mochas. If you have a sweet tooth, you'll want to make this North Beach establishment a definite stop on your SF itinerary. Its famous cannoli, chocolate-dipped almond biscotti, pasticiotti and sacripantina are waiting for you.

Stella Pastry and Cafe, 446 Columbus Ave (between Green St and Stockton St) San Francisco

Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery

Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery by DaveFayram on FlickrSightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery by DaveFayram on Flickr

The 'bar' part of Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery has been a long time coming for its sibling owners Jerad and Justin Morrison, but now their huge 7,000 sq foot glass fronted roastery and warehouse has an industrial-chic coffee counter to hang out in while you watch the exacting art of your beans being processed. The brothers are both passionate about making sure there's no such thing as exclusivity here, so ask any questions you like and they'll educate you in a friendly, approachable way.Sightglass Coffee Bar and Roastery, 270 Seventh St, San Francisco

The Summit SF

 

If you've got work to do in San Francisco, then the Summit SF is the place for you. It's a wide open space with high ceilings, big sturdy tables, sofas, free wi-fi and plenty of power sockets, and attracts a mixed crowd of co-working artists, designers, freelancers and digital 'nomads'. The vibe is low-key but buzzy, Blue Bottle coffee is served, and there are plenty of craft beers and local wines on the menu too.

The Summit SF, 780 Valencia (at 19th St) San Francisco

Spike's Coffee and Teas

Spike's Coffee and Teas © 2011 Spike's Coffee and TeasSpike's Coffee and Teas © 2011 Spike's Coffee and Teas

Deep in the heart of San Francisco's Castro neighbourhood, the dog-loving, eco-friendly Spike's Coffee and Teas cafe has been proudly serving up a considered brew since 1990. Claiming that they provide an 'oasis from the harshness of modern life and its rigours', they have no wi-fi signal and ask that you silence your mobiles while visiting. Perfect for a quiet afternoon with a book and a friendly mutt at your feet.

Spike's Coffee and Teas, 4117 19th St, San Francisco

Thanks to Flickr photographers Dave Fayram, bluewaikiki.com, kennymatic and kennejima for the Ritual Coffee Roasters header shot.Virgin Atlantic operates a daily flight to San Francisco from London Heathrow. For the very best fares visit www.virginatlantic.com.


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Carl September 2011
For those of you who are brave enough to make the journey into the Outer Sunset, there is a tiny hovel in the Outerlands called Trouble Coffee. The coffee there is so good, and so much care is taken to see that your coffee is the most amazing cup you've ever tasted, that they refuse to sell decaf or carry lowfat milk . . . and they get away with it.
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MondayGrabBag September 2011
Eight Great San Francisco Coffee Shops Girl Scout cookie pie chart Everything But The Kitchen Sink! Mint Chocolate Chip Cake One Smart
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SanFranciscoC February 2012
Maxine,

Thanks for this list of coffee shops to visit in S.F. The siphon bar at the blue bottle cafe looks amazing. Siphon/Vacuum machines have been around for 100 years in basically the same form, but not many people know about them. They provide a nice extraction and ability to bring out the flavor. Having them lined up like that just makes a very cool statement.

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About the author: Maxine

Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.