In the 1800s, San Francisco became known for importing the country’s favorite democratic, cerebral beverage: coffee. It was a way to tell the crown to step off, a way to fuel union soldiers in the Civil War (who would drink sometimes 14 cups a day), and, crucially, a way to increase productivity in the workplace. Folger’s, Maxwell House, and MJB all became boomtown, vacuum-sealing overlords of the Bay Area’s burgeoning coffee industry. While those companies aren’t half as trendy today — with coffeeheads leaning into lattes and cappuccinos from their favorite shops — the region continues to produce coffee innovation as it always has. Whether it be Juniper’s coffee milkshakes on Polk Street or Andytown’s Richmond District It’s-It affogato, San Francisco keeps the coffee wizardry coming. Try these 25 coffee shops for a taste of what keeps the Paris of the West a true coffee pioneer.Read More
25 Quintessential San Francisco Coffee Shops
Where to find expertly brewed cups of coffee in San Francisco right now
Equator Coffees at Round House Cafe
Thanks to a new location in Burlingame, Equator Coffee now has cafes serving just about every corner of the Bay. In the city, the SoMa shop remains closed but you can still get your fix of seasonal single-origin pour overs and espresso drinks at the Fort Mason outpost or the newly opened Round House cafe. No matter where you snag a drink you can feel good supporting a woman-owned, LGBTQ-founded business.
On a typical San Francisco afternoon, one steps out of the briny wind and into a seafaring refuge at Goody Cafe. No, the space is not nautical themed, but Fort Mason brings to bear the fact that San Francisco is a port city. Plus, any sailor would be lucky for $2 coffee and $3 cold brew. The food, including a rotating panini special, is not to be dismissed, either.
Hole in the Wall Coffee
North Beach’s coffee history is a legendary one — the city’s first espresso machines and coffee bars were dotted around the once-upon-a-time-actual beach — and these days the nostalgia of catching up with a friend over coffee is no better exemplified in the neighborhood than by Hole in the Wall. While Caffe Trieste is a rare example of a tourist destination and a legitimate neighborhood hang, this Union Street micro shop captures the wonder of its surroundings, set around a caffeinated beverage on the crisp streets of San Francisco, like no other shop can.
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
Wrecking Ball’s Nick Cho and Trish Rothgeb are known for their well-balanced espresso drinks and precise, technologically advanced pour overs. The Berkeley location closed on February 20, so the Cow Hollow location will have to be as great as two coffee shops.
The Coffee Movement
Nob Hill cafe, the Coffee Movement, is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with a menu that includes wild concoctions like its Earl Greyhound (filter coffee, grapefruit, Earl Grey tea, tarragon, elderflower tonic, and lemon balm).
Kevin Bohlin of Saint Frank fame headed down the street to open this new bakery and coffee outpost. While his original shop remains well worth a visit, this spot earns itself a place on any Polk Street tour guide for its sweet and savory choux options, coffee milkshakes, and high-caliber and reasonably-priced drip and pour-over coffees. The shop is currently in the final stages of transferring from its pop-up status to a fully-operational business, so stay tuned for its re-opening in fall 2022.
Compton’s Coffee House
Owner Aidan Compton reached out to Eater SF to let readers know of his family’s new Fillmore Street coffee shop. He and his father, San Francisco born-and-raised each, own the business and feature coffee from Brooklyn-based roaster Variety Coffee, owned by their relative Gavin Compton. Also, Eric Rachmany of Rebelution appears to be a fan of the new shop — which has to account for something — and the cold brew is a highlight.
Jane on Larkin
With locations all throughout the city, this bakery and coffee shop serves Equator Coffee and that pleasant cafe energy so many missed throughout the pandemic. Returning to a Jane the Baker location, maybe none more so than the Larkin Street outpost, reminds one of the joy of drinking coffee in a quasi-public place, making new friends, and eating a flaky croissant.
Fluid Cooperative Cafe
Powered by a trio of trans activists, Fluid Cooperative Cafe resides inside La Cocina Municipal Marketplace and uses Queer Wave Coffee beans. The buzzy little counter is the first thing to greet you when you walk inside and your menu options range from iced cafe de olla to a creamy latte made with Okinawa black sugar.
Ritual Coffee Roasters
Ritual Coffee owner Eileen Rinaldi booted her husband from the business for using a racial slur, and the company has reckoned with all kinds of criticism after hoping to serve “a new wave of software innovators, amid signs of a second internet gold rush.” Now there are plans to transition into a worker-owned company a la Arizmendi Bakery. Below all the noise, Ritual’s cafes offer high-caliber coffee and singular seasonal drinks.
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Simple Pleasures Cafe
This Balboa Avenue institution is a daytime watering hole for Outer Richmond denizens stretching back to its opening in 1978. The shop’s roastery is next door to the airy cafe, complete with a huge parklet, and well-situated next to restaurants, the quirky Balboa Theater, and Ocean Beach is just down the hill. The drip coffee stays cheap, and the vibes stay mellow.
Rise & Grind Coffee and Tea
Both locations of Rise & Grind (785 8th Avenue in the Inner Richmond and 2598 Folsom Street in the Mission) are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, and at 9 a.m. on the weekends, with a full menu of coffee drinks, as well as a cafe menu of toasts and sandwiches.
Andytown Coffee Roasters
West Side favorite since 2014, Lauren Crabbe and Michael McCrory’s minichain of coffee shops focuses on sleek aesthetics and decadent coffees, including the signature Snowy Plover latte. In the fall of 2022 the business will expand to the Richmond District with a Great Highway location, serving It’s-It affogato.
Sextant Coffee Roasters
Sextant founder Kinani Ahmed works directly with Ethiopian, Kenyan, and Colombian growers, making for high-end but affordable beans to-go. In this chunk of the city, Sextant is alone in offering its terrific coffees and delicious pastries from Firebrand Artisan Breads.
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Yo También Cantina
Yo También Cantina stocks Grand Coffee, also on this list, helping owners Isabella Bertorelli and Kenzie Benesh make Hugo Street a coffee haven during the pandemic. Bertorelli used to work at the Wooly Pig, the café that was in the same location just a few years ago, and the couple’s cafe holds the same great reverence for their neighbors and fans. The parklet, both gorgeous and accessible, is the perfect place to enjoy the signature Oatly Lavender Cold Brew for $5 with a breakfast cookie any Saturday morning.
Abanico Coffee Roasters
Abanico Coffee Roasters brought its specialty coffee drinks and freshly roasted beans to the Mission earlier this year. Owner Ana Valle is originally from El Salvador, where she grew up sipping cafecito with her grandmother. Now she’s sweetening cafe con leche with condensed milk and dusting iced cafe de olla with cinnamon in this bright, airy space.
More than 11 years on its journey, Grand Coffee opened a second location a block away from their mini cafe on Mission Street. The shop also serves its coffee at the Grove at Yerba Buena. Next door to Alamo Drafthouse, the small businesses’ new shop is spacious and bright, and working through a two-person Chemex at the tiled bar is a delight.
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Home Coffee Roasters
The birthday cake latte is classic Home at this point. But, to one San Francisco resident Eater SF spoke to, the business’ three shops really serve a sense of home for her and other Asian Americans in her community.
Finding this Cortland Avenue shop is almost like walking into a colorful room rather than a business and feels something like paying off your debt to Animal Crossing’s Tom Nook: as though something so rare and joyous could never happen, and, with great relief, it finally does. JoEllen Depakakibo’s charming Pinhole offers David Rio chai and Blue Willow Tea from Berkeley.
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Java Beach At The Zoo
Java Beach’s locations at 1396 La Playa Street and 2650 Sloat Boulevard both serve Lady Falcon’s 1990s-throwback coffee, and its sandwiches and salads are solid lunch contenders, too. The whole menu is available for takeout and online ordering is available as well, with the option to grab your drink via a walk up window at the La Playa outpost.
Tallio's Coffee & Tea
Frustrated by the lack of upscale coffee spots in the Bayview, Tallio’s owner Olton Rensch opened his business in a former Third Street barber shop after years of selling beans at farmers markets and online. On the menu, you’ll find everything from basic espresso drinks to a golden turmeric latte. As of September 2022, the shop is open for full service once again.
Higher Grounds Coffee House
Owner Manhal Jweinat has been keeping his corner of Glen Park fed and caffeinated for 40 years. The coffee is $2.75, plus tax, Jweinat reminds, but one gets much more for their purchase. Visiting Higher Grounds is like witnessing the San Francisco everyone complains about missing and everyone wishes could come back. Neighborhood fans come for omelettes, crepes, and blintzes.
Hey Neighbor Cafe
Opened in June 2021 by Dee and their cat Boots, this Bayview shop has gained a loyal fanbase for items like the Hella Black toast on San Francisco bakery Rize Up’s bread and the housemade orange marmalade. Plus, it bears repeating, that the co-owner is a cat.
Lea Sabado and Andre Higgenbotham opened this Excelsior neighborhood shop’s doors in 2019 and already had a healthy following of motorcycle fans who were excited to see a Black and brown-owned business in a very white coffee scene. Recently, the team is fundraising through tee-shirt sales for KeepOurClinics, a nonprofit that supports independent abortion clinics.
Mission Blue’s excellent coffee drinks are made with Saint Frank beans (with tea from UK cult brand TeaPigs), and its lavender latte sends folks to its Visitacion Valley door. It’s also got a gift shop that specializes in goods from local artists and makers, including jewelry, ceramics, and paper products.