Good coffee is a way of life in San Francisco. It can be a leisurely affair — a way for city dwellers to slow down and savour the sweet nectar of coffee beans. Most of the places on our list of favourites below have what some may view as drawbacks: they lack a public internet connection, their premium coffee reflects a premium price, and a line often accompanies your visit. But, these places have charmed our local San Francisco experts with quality coffee and well-designed spaces. To truly experience San Francisco, skip Starbucks and head to one of these local roasters instead.
Arguably the first well-known boutique coffee producer in the city, Blue Bottle is a must-visit for any coffee fan coming to San Francisco. Their iconic New Orleans iced coffee is a sweet, creamy treat made special with chicory root, an ingredient that was first introduced to coffee drinks in the Big Easy, and perfected by Blue Bottle in San Francisco. Their periwinkle blue bottle logo looks adorable peeking out from your behind your fingers on a petite tan cup. Now with multiple locations throughout the city, you can enjoy Blue Bottle in the Mission, at the Ferry Building or in the Financial District.
With floor-to-ceiling windows, light greets you first as you walk over the penny-tiled “COFFEE” entryway of Sightglass. Warm wood tones inside grow cosier with the yellow rays of sunshine. A couple of baristas stand behind an L-shaped wood counter, with pastries and toasts on display to start you drooling. A handful of café tables and benches line the wall and a bench on either side of the front façade means you can enjoy a view indoors or out depending on the weather. Even with the perfect design of Sightglass, the coffee steals the show. This is our favourite cup of plain black coffee in the city. A medium to light roast, full of flavour and not too bitter, it gives you the good feels of enjoying something created with the utmost care and perfection, with a bonus of caffeine.
Designed by Sagan Piechota Architecture, Ritual is a favourite among designers and architects for its minimalist, modern design. A cactus garden grows behind a full window wall at the back of the shop, a light sculpture lights the space, and low, simple, communal birch tables provide seating. You’ll know Ritual by its red backed coffee cup and star logo that looks strikingly similar to the sickle and hammer symbol of communism. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the resemblance of the logo transfers to the pricing of the goods — this is pure capitalism, and it’s worth every dollar.
By far the most casual of the group, Philz reminds us more of Central Perk than a branding exhibit. The same people that take your order make your drink, so don’t be confused by the multiple line set up here. They have more bean varieties than we can count, but what we really come here for is the iced mint mojito. No, there’s no alcohol, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Fresh muddled mint and sweet cream make for a refreshing, delectable beverage. You can order it light, medium or sweet depending on your level of sweet tooth.
San Francisco is a city for the adventurous, a city of great beauty with a history of outlandish behaviour and eccentric characters – that’s where the quirky and fun reputation comes from! Discover the world-renowned iconic landmarks, friendly neighbourhood markets, scenic spots, and culinary delights of this wonderful city on one of our unique San Francisco tours with a local guide.