San Francisco has been known as the Paris of the West. With its foggy haze, eccentric writers, and ardor for coffee, it makes sense we love our cafes. Tucked away from the robust winds, one will find a plethora of nooks and crannies to sit back with an enticing book, warm conversation, and that promising cup of coffee.
As I sipped my instant coffee at home, I thought, Enough! I shall embark on an endeavor to give anyone the jitters. I shall find, the best of the best, the creme of the crop, the hoopla of hoops, in coffeehouses. But how does one cater to all the tastes in the Paris of the West? Well I thought, OK! I must do justice to the vastness of our offerings. And then the idea to came to me, there can’t be just one, but it must be a list of ones. It’s better for all that way. So I’ll choose a nice handful of the finest to suit the appetites of our Parisians.
I left the homestead and ventured into the streets of fog and dog shit. On the hunt, there was something to be considered: San Franciscans like a competition. Ask anyone where the best neighborhood to live in is and you’ve forfeited your afternoon away to a debate of the city’s finest neighborhoods. But I digress… I traveled far and wide, over and under, and as I trembled my hand to my mouth after twenty-something cup, I did feel it was time, time to give the list, and here are the city’s finest coffeehouses:
Philz Coffee – The menu offers twenty blends that are all uniquely named and described on their menus. Each order is made one cup at a time. The baristas are knowledgeable and passionate about personalizing each brew. Like a good bartender, they’ll serve it up just how you ask it, straight, dirty with some cream or sugar, or with a sprig of mint.
Blue Bottle – Vienese coffee beans roasted 48 hours or less ago and personally brewed for each cup ordered. Taste the organic, pesticide-free, shade-grown beans in one sip and you are spoiled for the rest of your coffee drinking days. The location ambiances vary as much as the clientele, from an alley kiosk in Hayes to a modern space in the Mint Plaza.
Ritual Coffee Roasters – Green coffee roasting continually on the premises, you smell the freshness up the block. You take a sip, it just tastes better. Cement flooring and wooden furniture adds a warehouse feel to this establishment in the Mission. Fashionable hipsters mingle with SOMA sophisticates.
Trouble Coffee – Nestled deep in the Sunset District. For $8 you can get a cup of coffee, a slice of cinnamon toast, and a coconut. A homey space to sit back with the paper (or iPad) and read away the morning.
De La Paz – A specialty coffee roasting company based out of the Mission. Their roasted beans are sold in cafes throughout the city. Serious business for them and they continue to keep it localized and unique. Technically not a sit-in cafe, but it brings the coffeehouse to your home or office.
Caffe Capriccio – Crazy not to list Caffe Trieste as the best in North Beach? Give me a chance to prove Caffe Capriccio. Sure it’s on a corner with al fresco seating like the older establishment down the block, but Capriccio emphasizes seasonal, local, and organic beans from sustainable farmers. The French Press or espresso will give you a kick for your buck, deep and rich, full and smooth. Plus, the menu is delicious.
Little Bird Coffeehouse – Whiskey Thieves owners opened the joint in the Tenderloin. The ‘bar’ of coffeehouses, this place serves it up to clientele hipsters and downtown goers. They offer Ritual and De La Paz beans, dripped by hand or pulled espresso on their snazzy bar. Worth checking out.