San Francisco Coffee Shop Roundup

You know the drill by now. Lindsay visits a new city –> Lindsay samples ALL THE COFFEE.

Upon further reflection, I think I really need to organize my coffee crawls a bit better. I constantly find myself near-force feeding (drinking?) my over-caffeinated self cup after cup of delicious coffee because I CAN’T RESIST. And when I only have a few days in a city, that’s not nearly enough time to thoroughly investigate all of the so-called best coffee.

So I think I need to stagger my coffee intake. Maybe try one cafe in the morning, and one mid-afternoon? Surely this would work better than drinking 3 cups in succession, just because all the good coffee happens to be located right near where I am at a given moment. Yeah… I’ll work on it.

Clearly I had no such strategy when sampling the best coffee in San Francisco. Here are the coffee shops I visited while I was in town last month:

san francisco coffee shop 

Blue Bottle

Ever since my first trip to San Francisco 5 years ago, I’d been lusting for this sensational chicory iced coffee that I enjoyed one time at the Ferry Building. I couldn’t remember the proper name of the drink, nor the cafe where I’d procured it, but it was unlike any other coffee I’d ever had before.

Fast forward a few years and now I’ve got it in my Brooklyn neighborhood! I put 2 and 2 together the first time I sampled Blue Bottle‘s signature drink, the New Orleans cold brew, at their Williamsburg location:

Initially conceived as an alternative to the erratically composed and often disappointing iced latte, our New Orleans iced coffee is cold-brewed for 12 hours with roasted chicory and sweetened with organic cane sugar. The end result is a potent concentrate that we cut with organic whole milk. It’s sweet, creamy and, perhaps most importantly, consistently delicious.

Chicory? Check. A San Francisco-based roasting company? Check. I had unknowingly sampled Blue Bottle’s finest 5 years ago before it exploded with full force onto the coffee scene. Though Blue Bottle is old news to me, I couldn’t visit San Francisco and NOT stop by at least once for a New Orleans cold brew. Normally iced coffee is not my go-to, but this one is pretty special. I can confidently report that it tastes equally amazing on both coasts, as it should.

Recommended Drink: New Orleans cold brew, or a pourover
Location: There are 7 locations and counting in SF!

Reveille

Here’s my story of Reveille: I woke up one morning, Yelped ‘best coffee in San Francisco’, walked down a really steep hill, and happened upon this wedge-shaped coffee shop. I was instantly won over by the bright sunlight streaming through the windows on both sides of the cafe, and briefly daydreamed about how I’d come here on weekends if I were a local, maybe sit on a stool at the window with my laptop and do some blogging and people watching.

Then I tried a cappuccino and thought SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. This could be my spot! Reveille has some of the best coffee in San Francisco and I’m not over it.

san francisco coffee shop 

Recommended Drink: Cappuccino
Location: 200 Columbus Ave

Sightglass Coffee

I stumbled upon the Sightglass Coffee stand while walking behind the Ferry Building one afternoon. I in no way was in need of a caffeine fix, but you know – in the name of research, I felt obligated to try their pourover. It was solid, but not OMG-worthy. On second thought, maybe I should have gone for the Hooker’s Mocha?

San Francisco Coffee Shop 

Recommended Drink: Pourover
Location: 270 Seventh Street (or they sometimes have a stand behind the Ferry Building)

Cafe Trieste

I discovered this cafe on my inaugural trip to SF 5 years ago and was delighted to find it just as charming this time around. Cafe Trieste is an old school Italian cafe with AMAZING espresso drinks. Really – they are seriously strong and delicious. You won’t find any new-fangled brews or pretension here at this 58-year-old establishment.

In fact, you’re more likely to see small families and older folks hanging out here rather than the hipster faction of the population. It’s a great place to hole up for an afternoon, either reading, working, or listening to the live music or poetry readings. I could easily see myself logging an exorbitant number of hours in this atmospheric cafe if I lived in San Francisco.

San Francisco Coffee Shop 

Recommended Drink: Cappuccino (or any espresso drink)
Location: 601 Vallejo St

Ritual

I know Ritual. I like Ritual. Some New York coffee shops brew and sell their beans, but I’d never before experienced Ritual in the flesh. I stopped by their Hayes Valley location, which was more akin to a fancy coffee trailer in a parking lot but no less awesome than their flagship store in the Mission. Definitely order one of the many pourovers they have on offer (it’s what they do best), then take your cup to the park across the street to enjoy in the sun. Best way to start your day, with some of the best coffee in San Francisco!

San Francisco Coffee Shop 

Recommended Drink: Pourover
Location: 1026 Valencia St (+ a few other locations)

Coffee Bar

With such a generic name, I was slightly skeptical to venture into Coffee Bar. And true enough, it’s not the typical third wave artisanal coffee shop I seek out. But I saw past the mod decor, walked straight to the counter, and ordered a Havana Latte without hesitation. What is this, you ask? Well it’s a latte with sweetened condensed milk. DELIGHTFUL.

Recommended Drink: Havana Latte
Location: 433 Kearny (+ 2 other locations)

What other San Francisco coffee shop would you recommend?

Check out my other coffee shop round ups: North Brooklyn // Montreal // London

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She’s a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond.

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  • For someone who knows nothing about coffee and who settles for bland Starbucks, this is a great list. Mindi and Daryl just told me about Blue Bottle so I will have to make it to the one here in the city soon :)

    • lindsaypunk

      Ohhhh man, you gotta wean yourself off Starbucks stat! There’s way too much good coffee in this city to settle for burnt brews :P Blue Bottle would be a great foray into the wonderful world of third wave coffee, so definitely try it sometime! :D

  • Anne

    LOVE! Next time you’re in town I want to take you to sample Four Barrel, too! This is a great list, and I now have a few more places I need to go try :)

    • lindsaypunk

      OMG how did I miss Four Barrel?!! Please take me there immediately! Also, let me know what you think if you try any of the spots I mentioned here!

  • Love all of these places! So glad you got to sample some of the SF best. :) Come back soon!

    • lindsaypunk

      AHH me too! Happy to hear you’re a fan of these as well – means I chose wisely, right? ;)

  • I admittedly can’t tell the difference in most coffee (a latte’s a latte’s a latte, amiright??), but I’m ALL about the ambiance. Which means I’m hightailing it to Reveille this weekend, thanks so much. Anne and I are getting together every weekend to write in cute coffee shops. The other week we went to Jane (on Fillmore St) and I almost died from charm. And we want to check out Saint Frank Coffee next. Those two should be on your list for your next visit!

    • lindsaypunk

      YES, thank you thank you thank you! I’m already compiling a list for Part 2 of the SF Coffee Crawl. There are so many good spots I missed that I need to hit on my next visit!

      Let me know what you think of Reveille! So jealous of your writing dates with Anne! :P

  • We love the coffee in San Francisco too! We’re partial to Blue Bottle and Four Barrel when we’re there. Plus there are so many cute coffee shops to bump into like we did with Sugarlump.

    • lindsaypunk

      AHH, Four Barrel! How did I miss the memo on that one?! Definitely on the list for my next visit! And totally – I LOVE accidentally stumbling upon cool little cafes like that! :)