San Francisco Bay Area
Best Coffee Shops
Enjoying the best San Francisco Bay coffee shops has become one of our most favorite things to do. Below are some the very top coffee houses culled from our own repeated testing of hundreds around the Bay area :). Good coffee and a pleasant, unique atmosphere were the chief criteria. See different area maps for locations.
San Francisco coffee houses
Sausalito coffee shopsCaffe Divino, 37 Caledonia St This little neighborhood coffee shop we have particularly enjoyed, for the food as well as coffee.
Taste of Rome, 1000 Bridgeway This coffee shop was better when it was run by Caffe Trieste but still remains a favorite. Very nice open air cafe atmosphere, good lattes, decent food. There’s a small free parking lot behind the building for patrons.
il Piccolo Caffe, 660 Bridgeway #3 Located just north of Yee Tock Chee Park at the Bridgeway & Princess St stop light. Go for the view, not the coffee. It’s private outdoor seating has a view of San Francisco, Angel Island and Tiburon which is outstanding, even for Sausalito.
Weaver’s Coffee & Tea, 40 Louise St/Belvedere St, San Rafael, north of Sausalito John Weaver, the master roaster for Peet’s coffee for over seventeen years, now has his own little retail & wholesale shop. The coffee is superb, possibly better than Blue Bottle coffee but at Peet’s coffee prices. However, the location is a challenge to find; bring a good map. Open 6am-6pm weekdays, 6am-3pm weekends.
Princeton-by-the-Sea coffee shops
Caffee Mezza Luna, 240 Capistrano Rd New stand-alone building with cute decor, friendly service, gelato & pastries but, alas, we don’t like the coffee. You might. We know you will like the decor and nearby harbor.
Ebb Tide Cafe, 311 Mirada Rd, Miramar Outstanding location sitting across a lazy street from the ocean bluffs. Only open weekends, low key, and not a very business-like operation but who cares … we are there for the pleasant ocean atmosphere.
Since our dog Buddy is not allowed on the deck we usually sit on the lawn chairs out front facing the water. Buddy likes the nice beach-side hikes in both directions too.
Half Moon Bay coffee shops
Moonside Bakery & Cafe, 604 Main St/Miramontes Nice outside patio, good baked goods, OK coffee. Pleasant relaxed place to enjoy a treat after checking out the town.
Peet’s, 142 San Mateo Rd One of the bigger, better Peet’s which is visited mainly by locals who can find it. Located within the Strawberry Shopping Center at the NE corner of Hwys 1 & 92.
Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, 1 Miramontes Point Rd Yes, you can enjoy the beautiful view from inside a 5-Star resort hotel or from their terrace deck … all for the price of a cup of expensive coffee. From the entrance door head straight past the fireplace until you see the view and take a seat.
You can avoid expensive valet parking by telling the gateman you want to park in the free “public” spaces reserved for the Coastal trail. You wouldn’t want to miss checking out the Coastal trail while you are there anyway. It’s a nice short hike on a paved walking path that goes south from the hotel along the golf course and beach bluffs.
Pescadero coffee shop
Arcangeli Norm’s Market, 287 Stage Road A 70 year old grocery store and bakery. Most people go there for the fresh artichoke garlic bread; I go there for the fresh cheese Danish. This particular cheese pastry has motivated many a pleasant trip down the coast for us.
We often just sit on the benches in front of the store enjoying our pastry, coffee, the weather and a great small town atmosphere. Or, you can go to the picnic tables out back where bicyclists from the Peninsula will likely join you.
Burlingame coffee shops
Cafe Capuchino 1158 Capuchino Ave just off Broadway This cute little coffee shop & natural foods cafe has a loyal local following. Closed Sundays.
On Burlingame Ave you can find a busy Starbuck’s and a Peet’s coffee house. Or, if you would like something different try sitting outside with your coffee at Copenhagen Bakery & Cafe,1216 Burlingame Ave, or Il Forniao, 327 Lorton Ave. Both have tasty baked goods as well as coffee and other food.
San Mateo coffee shops
Dianda’s Italian American Pastry Company, Crystal Springs Shopping Center, 117 De Anza Blvd It’s a nice little Italian bakery with good coffee, service, pastries, & St. Honore cake. Has easily handled the Starbuck’s competition 100 feet away. The original Dianda’s in SF, at 2883 Mission St/24th, is reputed to be of similar quality but we have not been there yet.
Draegers, 222 E Fourth Ave This is a high end grocery store but we go for the bear claws at their coffee shop. Pleasant street side seating, marginal service, outstanding pastries.
Redwood City coffee shops
Pho Dong, 2610 Broadway Street This is a Vietnamese restaurant we like for the setting (we usually sit at the street tables) but have listed here for the Vietnamese iced coffee. If you’ve never had Vietnamese coffee it is made by mixing brewed black coffee with about a quarter to a half as much sweetened condensed milk and then pouring it over ice. It’s a treat that is so good it could become addictive. :)
If you prefer European coffee one of the better Peet’s is located a few doors down at 2600 Broadway.
San Jose coffee shops
Khanh’s Garden Restaurant, 335 S Winchester Blvd across from Santana Row This is another good place to get Vietnamese coffee. Try it with their tasty flan.
There is also a Peet’s nearby, at the south end of Santana Row across the street.
Los Gatos coffee shops
Purple Onion, 26 E Main Street This is a quiet pleasant place out of the main stream with excellent coffee and pastries. They serve illy Italian coffee which is well known in Europe. We definitely prefer it to the more popular Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company.
Purple Onion is also a catering company owned by two Chefs, which explains why the sandwiches and light meals are much superior to what you would expect to find at a coffee shop. E.g., we recently enjoyed there a tasty ham quiche and a smoked salmon & cucumber sandwich.
Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, 101 W. Main St The center of the very active weekend coffee social scene in Los Gatos. Better than average atmosphere and OK coffee. Go there to see and be seen.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea In fact, Peet’s is one of the better SF Bay area coffee shops. Even though they are a chain the lattes are among the very best. To our taste Peet’s clearly beats Starbuck’s both in decor and in taste.
Interesting factoid: Mr. Peet, was a Dutchman sometimes referred to as “the grandfather of speciality coffee.” He taught the three original Starbuck’s founders the gourmet coffee business before he would allow them to buy the first year’s supply of beans for their original shop.
Starbuck’s No need to say much about this chain since they are everywhere. Starbuck’s coffee is OK, their frappes are addictive, and they are very, very convenient. Even so, if given the option we’ll always support a good independent coffee shop just to help the little guys survive. Starbuck’s will often locate right next door to a small independent who has proven the market; a year later the little guy is often gone.
There you have it … a few results from years of extensive research on and in San Francisco Bay Area coffee shops. Enjoy!