Coffee first. I am 0% functional without coffee and 100% addicted to coffee. Doesn't matter if I'm in my hometown or traveling aboard, I go out of my way to find the best local coffee. To me - sitting down at a café for a pastry and a latte is the best way to start a day or take a break in the middle of the day.
San Francisco definitely has more than its fair share of specialty coffee, focusing on high quality, small-batch coffee. Most specialty coffee shops will handcraft each cup of coffee precisely for you, from freshly ground bean to your preferred brewing method. In other words - it'll be delicious and long. Drinking coffee at one these coffeehouses is meant to be a process you enjoy! Sit down, relax, and breathe in the fresh brewed coffee in the air!
Signature drinks and roasts: Sweet Tooth espresso
Ritual is the classic San Francisco coffeehouse (one of the key brands associated with putting the SF coffee scene on the map). Many of you may recognize Ritual’s signature hammer and sickle-meets-coffee cup logo. Ritual has multiple shops in the city (my favorite is the one in Mission) and each shop has a own signature drink that’s unique to its location. If you need an impressive date spot, the Bayview location is located inside the Flora Grubbs Garden. Ritual also offers cupping classes and brewing demos, as well as informative brewing guides so you can take a bag of expertly roasted coffee beans home and get to experimenting all on your own.
Signature drinks and roasts: Snowy Plover - their famous drink with Pellegrino, two shots of espresso, ice and house-made whipped cream
I have to admit... the first time someone told me about Andytown's Snowy Plover, I didn't get it. Why would you want sparkling water in your coffee? But trust me... it's good! And their house-made whipped cream... I need it on everything! The rich cream blends perfectly into the coffee-infused Pellegrino, creating one of the smoothest and best-tasting drinks imaginable. You can enjoy Andytown's innovative concoction in one of its Outer Sunset locations or at the garden rooftop level of the SalesForce Tower.
Four Barrel Coffee
Signature drinks and roasts: Friendo Blendo
[credit: Grounds and Growlers]
Four Barrel serves what's considered some of the best coffee in the country. 12 separate roasts are expertly roasted in-house on a vintage German-made Probat UG-15. The Slow Bar, off to the side, allows you to sample the full line of single-origin coffees as pour-overs or espresso. It's an educational and delicious experience. Make sure you go in the morning, as the bar closes by the afternoon (the rest of the café is open til later).
Signature drinks and roasts: Any single-origin espresso
Cafes and restaurants all over the U.S. are brewing with Sightglass beans. Their signature espresso blend, the Owl’s Howl, is a blend of regularly changing coffees that promises a “deep honey-like body, with notes of ripe berry, chocolate-covered cherry and sweet candied lemon” (according to their website). Be sure to visit the flagship shop and roastery in SoMa - where you can sip coffee next to the massive 22kg Probat coffee roaster in the front of the beautiful barn-like building. The airy atmosphere makes it a great spot to hang out on your own or meet up with a few friends. And if you want the most unique café experience, then head upstairs to the Sightglass x Salt and Straw affogato bar, a collaboration with the Portland ice cream shop!
Signature drinks and roasts: Mint Mojito Iced Coffee
Touted as one of the best coffee shops in America by "TimeOut," Philz Coffee made its mark on the Bay Area coffee scene and has expanded to several U.S. cities. Phil started his business in the Mission District in the early 2000s, in a grocery store on 24th and Folsom. Its local roots and unique idea about coffee give Philz a story unlike any other coffee shops. Their dedication to coffee further solidifies their place on any SF coffee list. For example, it took Phil seven years to perfect Tesora, the shop’s signature blend. Unlike other coffee shops, Philz doesn’t make espresso. The beans are carefully sourced and all roasted at its plant in Oakland, and each cup is hand-poured individually as it’s ordered. The coffee is made to exact specifications, and then personalized for each customer (including level of sweetness, choice of sweetener, level of creaminess, choice of milk).