The San Francisco Bay Area is a sterling coffee institution, full-stop. This is a short guide to churches of caffeine of all stripes across all 48 hills. There are lowkey hangouts on Ocean Avenue and Irving Street, stretching toward the sand and waves. There are specialty shops where tremendously talented baristas pull craft shots in Cow Hollow and the Mission. Finally, fan-favorites where everyone can get the coffee they’re most accustomed to in Lower Pac Heights and SoMa. Dive into the city’s coffee culture and see why it’s remained the high bar for coffee shops around the world for more than 100 years.Read More
15 Quintessential San Francisco Coffee Shops
Where to find expertly brewed cups of coffee in San Francisco right now
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
Wrecking Ball’s Trish Rothgeb is known for her well-balanced espresso drinks and precise, technologically advanced pour-overs — plus, she coined the now popular “waves of coffee” terminology. The Berkeley location of her business closed, so the Cow Hollow outpost will have to be as great as two coffee shops.
York Street Cafe
After a successful stint as a garage pop-up in the Mission, and while running experiential dining pop-up Just Some Folks, Anand Upender is now running a permanent location through San Francisco’s Vacant to Vibrant program. His inventive coffee drinks are the draw here, including the pleasant and floral Forest Latte, but vegan donut extraordinaire Whack Donuts is co-headlining the show, too. Arrive early to snag one of those treats with your oat cap.
Haraz Coffee House
Fans of spiced coffee and vibey music can enjoy the first outpost of Haraz now that this Dearborn, Michigan-founded company has set its eyes on California. There are decadent Yemeni desserts and pastries here, such as honey-drizzled bee bites, but the drinks are, of course, the main attraction. Try the pistachio latte.
The Scullery is a little nook of a coffee shop with a smattering of outdoor seating, and the thrum of traffic booming on Geary Street outside. The team at this cafe is tuned into the specialty coffee world, serving East Bay favorite Mother Tongue Coffee and top-tier toast, too.
The Coffee Movement
There’s nothing as fine as sitting on foggy Balboa Street while the alchemists at Coffee Movement’s second (and greatest) location crank out the army of coffee ordered each morning. The flights are affordable, a chance to try one well-sourced coffee brewed three ways or to try three well-sourced coffees brewed one way. Plus, there are rotating coffee concoctions such as the Earl Greyhound made with filter coffee, grapefruit, Earl Grey tea, tarragon, elderflower tonic, and lemon balm.
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 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. 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 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.
Abanico Coffee Roasters
Abanico Coffee Roasters brought its specialty coffee drinks and freshly roasted beans to the Mission in 2021. 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.
The level of luxurious quality at Day Moon, found in both the Linea coffee drinks and the little treats — whether that be a peanut butter cookie, a sesame bun, or a peach scone — is only matched by the downhill stroll to the expansive and gorgeous Ocean Beach. Tough to top as far as new bakeries go in San Francisco.
Spike's Coffees and Teas
This no-frills coffee shop, which provides no Wi-Fi and says phones are not welcome, sits about a block from Harvey Milk’s former apartment on Castro Street. It’s a haven for dog lovers and bulk teas and coffees. There are dark and medium roasts, flavored coffees including Kona macadamia nut, and coffee paraphernalia of all kinds.
More than 11 years into its journey, Grand Coffee opened a second location a block away from its mini cafe on Mission Street. The shop also serves its coffee at the Grove at Yerba Buena and keeps customers buzzed during Ramadan. 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: This second location was the greatest coffee shop for the community in 2022.
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Across the street from El Rio is one of San Francisco’s most low-key and high-impact coffee shops. Not only does the minuscule shop bake all of its own pastries, but it also makes a few coffee drinks that can’t be found anywhere else. The Thai Breakfast starts with a base of cold brew before adding oat milk and banana; for $6, the item is as signature a Bay Area coffee drink as the now-defunct Trouble Coffee’s coffees served in coconuts.
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, the co-owner is a cat.
Lea Sabado and Andre Higgenbotham opened this Excelsior neighborhood shop 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. The shop makes a mean chai, but more relevantly the coffee here is the only specialty shop in the area with strong but not overly dark roasts.
Java on Ocean
Ocean Avenue plays host to lots of fantastic restaurants and bars, but few destinations are as open, enormous, and affordable as Java on Ocean. The shop features tons of specialty drinks, and not specialty coffee, mind you, but items like rose, lavender, and zebra lattes.