13 Coffee Shops in SF That Prove the City Is a Coffee Mecca

Switch up your work-from-home routine with a fresh view and fresh cup of coffee.

Photo courtesy of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
Photo courtesy of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

Never has a town needed an abundance of coffee more than San Francisco. It’s there to wake us up on foggy mornings, warm us up on foggy afternoons, and keep us alert well into many a foggy evening. Luckily, this fog-filled city is also known for producing some of the best and most innovative coffee you’ll find in the US, making our ceaseless sipping much more enjoyable. Whether you’re looking for a place to linger over a cup with friends, inspire some work-productivity, enjoy on the go or while sitting solo and eavesdropping on others, the best coffee shops in SF are there for you when the craving hits.

Abanico Coffee Roasters
Photo courtesy of Abanico Coffee Roasters

The classic espresso and pour-over coffee drinks at this colorful coffee shop owned by Ana Valle, a coffee connoisseur from El Salvador, are made with beans roasted in house. But you’re not here to drink those (though they are great), you’re here to drink one of the fabulous, well-balanced, and flavorful signature coffee drinks, like a café con leche (a latte sweetened with condensed milk and sprinkled with cinnamon) or a café con coco y choco (a latte sweetened with condensed coconut milk and sprinkled with ground cacao).

To find this tiny coffee shop, look for the Grand Theater’s neon marquee. Inside you’ll find excellent espresso drinks and a range of single-origin coffees and blends that represent up-and-coming producers and are served in to-go cups stamped with an iconic Ben Davis monkey sipping his own cup. There’s a second location just two blocks away next to Alamo Drafthouse, which is filled with light and art and is the spot to go if you want to linger for a while.

Will it be impossible to get the Miley Cyrus song out of your head after you stop by this tiny shop on Union Street? Yes. But it’s totally worth it for the sustainably-sourced, well-balanced hand-crafted pour-over coffee served here. (One of the owners is credited with inventing the term "third wave" coffee and the other—her husband—is known for being one of the best baristas in the country). The shop has Instagram-friendly pineapple wallpaper and only a couple of seats at the bar and a few tables outside, so it's more of a place to meet a friend for a chat (and maybe split a buttery croissant from Le Marais Bakery) than a place to settle in with your laptop. As far as what to order, the go-to is the iced cappuccino, but if you're a fan of hot chocolate, you'll want to order that. (Just add a shot of espresso if you also need a caffeine boost.)

Sextant was founded by Kinani Ahmed, a first-generation Ethiopian, who works directly with growers across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Colombia. The name comes from a tool used by sailors to navigate, as a symbol of how coffee was first transported out of Africa, as well as the commitment to finding the best beans possible. All of the beans are roasted in SF and are “neither too light or too dark,” so if you’re feeling a little like Goldilocks, this is the spot to hit up.

Verve Coffee Roasters
Photo courtesy of Verve Coffee Roasters

Verve Coffee Roasters

Duboce Triangle

If you’re looking to be productive while also enjoying a cup of excellent coffee (or because you’re enjoying an excellent cup of coffee), head to Verve. The light-filled room has a serene ambiance (exposed brick, lots of plants, light wood, etc.), plus ample seating, legit food options, and most importantly (for work productivity, anyway) WiFi (though there aren’t a lot of outlets). Our favorite part? It’s close to Blackbird, an excellent cocktail bar and the perfect spot to reward yourself after a hard day of work.

Andytown Coffee Roasters

Outer Sunset and SoMa

If there’s one thing you need after a walk along Ocean Beach, it’s a cup of coffee to warm your insides. The place to procure said cup is at one of Andytown’s four Outer Sunset locations. Andytown roasts its beans (carefully sourced from smallholder producers who value sustainability) in house and boasts a pretty straightforward coffee selection, with one exception: The Snowy Plover (sparkling water over ice, a shot of espresso, brown sugar syrup, and housemade whipped cream). It’s like an espresso cream soda, and there’s a matcha version as well. And you might as well get one of the insanely popular breakfast sandwiches made with bacon, ham, a cage-free soft egg, cheddar, and mayo on griddled pan de mie.

Pinhole Coffee

Bernal Heights

Pinhole’s colorful, kaleidoscope-paneled wall, abundance of succulents, vintage camera equipment as decor, and tree trunks that double as chairs and tables makes it a dream destination for San Franciscans seeking a coffee fix and a place to pose for that perfect lazy Sunday Instagram pic. Even better, the Cortland Avenue shop is a place where people actually go to enjoy company and conversation, perhaps sparked by the Linea espresso drinks and the abundance of pastries from local bakeries (including vegan and gluten-free options), but probably because of the purposeful lack of WiFi and outlets. Prefer to get your caffeine fix outside? There’s a parklet for that—although, like many parklets in SF, it needs to either be revised or taken down. If you want to help support those efforts, there’s a GoFundMe.

Equator Coffees & Teas

Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Mason

Equator Coffee started as a coffee roaster out of a garage in Marin County in 1995. Today, as the first California coffee roasting B Corporation, they have multiple locations in the North Bay and SF with a focus on sustainable and transparent practices. Importantly, the lattes, pour-overs, and tea selection are all excellent. Go to the Round House at the Golden Gate Bridge location –inside a 1937 Art Deco building with amazing views –if you want to turn your coffee outing into a full-blown lunch (it offers paninis, sandwiches, salads, pastries, and more). The Fort Mason location, located in what used to be the gatehouse of the former military base, has a more limited food menu but equally nice views.

Caffe Trieste
Photo courtesy of Caffe Trieste

Caffe Trieste

North Beach

This family-owned coffee destination opened in 1956 and claims to be the first espresso coffee house established on the West Coast. (We choose to believe that claim because the coffee tastes even better that way.) Today, this iconic neighborhood gem is a welcoming haven for local artists, musicians, and tourists alike, as well as a casual spot to people-watch, catch up with friends, and listen to live music on Saturdays.

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Hayes Valley & Mission & Upper Haight

It wasn’t that long ago (2011) that Ritual was just a pop-up shop inside a shipping container. Now it has four locations, including three in SF (and one at SFO), all of which serve coffee sourced from smallholder farmers who are paid double to triple the commodity market value for specialty grade coffees. We’re still loyal to the original Hayes Valley shipping container location, though, where you can linger on a sunny day in the PROXY space that is also home to Biergarten. (But the Mission cafe inside of an old furniture store is pretty cool, too.)

Saint Frank Coffee

Russian Hill

Saint Frank Coffee was named one of the 21 best coffee shops in the country and is known for its specialty beans sourced from small-scale farmers around the world, which you’ll find in its espressos and pour-overs. The bi-level space has minimalist—but not too minimalist—vibes and free WiFi, perfect for a serene morning or afternoon pick-me-up. Not sure what kind of coffee you want? Try the flight of single-origin coffees served four ways. If you normally order a coffee with any kind of milk, opt for the house almond macadamia milk, which is heavenly.

Linea Caffe

Mission and Potrero Hill

This café was named one of the 11 best indie coffee shops in America by Food and Wine, amongst other accolades and awards, and was founded by Andrew Barnett who was once a judge at the World Barista Championship (aka he takes his coffee seriously). Linea partners with progressive, organic coffee farmers and environmentally friendly producers and importers for a pretty straightforward menu. If you need a little something extra, throw in a Dynamo donut.

Before you go on a jaunt in Golden Gate Park, fuel up at family-owned Flywheel. (It’s also a good spot for working, with free WiFi and plenty of seating.) Each cup is made-to-order, the beans are roasted in-house, and the founder was literally born on a coffee farm in Nicaragua where he picked and roasted beans and was a barista by the age of 12. Stop in the hand-built shop (converted from an old bike shop with mostly repurposed materials) on Stanyan or go across the street to the kiosk if you want to enjoy your brew outdoors and in the park.

Daisy Barringer is an SF-based freelance writer who was reared as a child to “Drink milk and drink plenty, but not tea or coffee until you are twenty” and has been making up for lost time ever since. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf.