By Cora Mitchell
San Francisco is a caffeine lover’s paradise. Known for being the birthplace of renowned coffee shops like Blue Bottle and Philz, it is also known for its unique and delicious specialty shops.
Half of the battle of getting a good cup of joe in the city is the overwhelming number of places you can get your buzz on. As a self-proclaimed coffee snob, I have done a fair share of “coffee-shop hopping” and present you with the 5 must-visit coffee shops in San Francisco.
1026 Valencia St, San Francisco, California 94110
A visit to Ritual Coffee has become a ritual when visiting the city. This stand-out is said to have started the, “third wave coffee” movement in San Francisco where the bean has become artisanal. This is not your classic cool vibe grunge hangout, but instead brings in natural light (and lots of it), ample space, and modern furniture. Think Dwell catalogue. Ritual Coffee prides themselves on their loyalty and support of the community, using and selling only beans roasted in San Francisco. Every drink is made to order with attention to all details: taste, foam art, and presentation.
Hours of Operation: 6 AM - 8 PM
2340 Polk St., San Francisco, California 94109
If you have a bit of hipster in you, and are a fan of beverage flights, this coffee shop is for you. On my most recent visit, they were brewing and serving "Cedrales" from the Amor de Dios Colonia of Bolivia-- and did so in a visually impressive flight prepared four ways (latte, espresso, hot, cold brew). In addition to the flights, Saint Frank serves up a variety of single origins and small farm beans, all roasted in-house. The shop is
clean, comfortable, and has a nice buzz about it, making it a great place to hang out by yourself or converse with another coffee lover. If you ever walk by the shop on a Tuesday and see people immersing their noses deep into a coffee cup, don’t panic. Go inside and participate in the Polk Street cuppings to learn more about what goes into an amazing cup of coffee. And speaking of an amazing cup of coffee, I issue this warning: the Almond & Macadamia Milk Cappuccino may change your life.
Hours of Operation: 6:30 AM - 6:00 PM
270 7th St., San Francisco, California 94103
With multiple locations around San Francisco, and a reputation for its beans across the country, Sightglass is no newbie to the coffee scene. My favorite location is in the SoMa district because of its spacious and industrial vibe. It pulls off creating this great atmosphere without feeling too stark or dark, which many aspiring shops can’t seem to do. The coffee and espresso is consistently smooth but complex and well-balanced. They have their own in-house roasting, grinding, and packaging production (complete with a cool logo!) making it hard to resist bringing some beans home with you.
Hours of Operation: 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
375 Valencia St., San Francisco, California 00375
The smell of this coffee shop alone makes it worth a visit. You get your first whiff about a block away on Valencia and just follow your nose from there. The space is open, rustic, and full of artistic and funky decor. Long wood and steel tables fill up the space, and the atmosphere is lively and upbeat with eclectic music. The menu offers simple but delicious fare; the muffins, cookies, croissants aren’t’ the type that look good
and taste terrible. The food is real, and genuinely delicious. Although it is often packed, the special pour-over station and friendly, efficient baristas, keep the lines moving and customers satisfied. Full of local art, communal tables, and no wifi, this place fosters authenticity and human connection. Imagine... If I could start every morning with a Four Barrel pour-over and a nice conversation with a fellow traveler, it would be the breakfast of champions.
Hours of Operation: 7:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Blue Bottle Cafe
66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103
If you have the patience and are not in a rush, line up at the Blue Bottle. It burst onto the scene 10 years ago with its cool machinery of brass-trimmed halogen heating elements, glass globes, and bamboo paddles—all operated by a barista in a white lab coat. The coffee was outstanding, novel, and expensive -- and thus, the Bottle was born. Many other shops and kiosks have sprung up since the
first store on Mint Street, and the iconic blue bottle logo requires no words to accompany it. Although recently bought by Nestle (a heartbreaking fact), they still serve up a mean craft coffee, and some delicious food options. If the long lines get to you, I recommend adding an order of avocado toast to reward yourself for the wait.
Hours of Operation: 6:30 AM - 7:00 PM