Below is a select list of the best, most interesting San Francisco coffee houses we’ve tried. Also see our SF coffee houses map. By the way, the best SF bakeries serve good coffee too. And, for coffee houses in other towns around the Bay area check out SF Bay Area coffee shops.
Caffe Trieste, 601 Vallejo St, North Beach – This famous San Francisco coffee house is one not to miss though sometimes it’s too crowded. They have the best lattes and history in town.
Cafe Greco, 423 Columbus Ave, North Beach – A pleasant place to relax and people watch on Columbus Ave. Nice old-fashioned Italian atmosphere, roomy, with good coffee & food. Has been upgraded for the tourists in recent years. Caffee Puccino next door is similar but hasn’t been upgraded and with a smaller slightly less expensive menu. Italian locals enjoy both of these old time caffees.
Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe, 566 Columbus Ave/Union St, North Beach – Excellent corner location and atmosphere with a perfect view of Washington Square. Small but you can usually get in. More a cafe and bar than a coffee house. Strong coffee. Good panini sandwiches, beer, and service.
Buena Vista Cafe, 2765 Hyde St/Beach St, Fisherman’s Wharf at the end of the Hyde-Powell cable car line - Well known for serving the first Irish coffee in the U.S. … and still the best. The Irish coffee & location are what make the difference. Good bar, fair food, nice setting though sometimes crowded. A good meeting spot where you can watch Irish coffees being made ten coffees at a time or have a pleasant chat with visiting tourists while you wait :).
Goody Cafe, South end of Bldg C, Fort Mason Center, Marina Blvd & Laguna St, The Marina – This is a comfortable little coffee house run by the Friends of the SF Public Library along with the adjacent Book Bay book store. They serve good coffee, local wines, and have free Wi-Fi. Enjoy yourself and support a good cause!
Farm Table Coffee Shop, 754 Post St., E of Leavenworth, Nob Hill The coffee is superb … one of the best lattes we’ve ever tasted and good but limited snacks. Very small shop which is often crowded. We walked there from Union Square since it’s not that convenient to get to unless you live in the neighborhood.
Blue Bottle Coffee, Ferry Bldg, SOMA – The line to the stand-up counter is often long … it takes them a while to prepare a cup … but they do create a very smooth & tasty latte. Peet’s Coffee, also in the Ferry Bldg, has long lines too but they tend to move faster.
Blue Bottle Coffee, 315 Linden St/Gough, Hayes Valley – This is a “hidden” gem one block south of Hayes St. Stand-up order counter only. For the serious coffee drinker.
The Butler & the Chef, 155A South Park St/3rd St, SOMA – Cute, chic French bistro with excellent food but also very nice just as a coffee shop. The latte in a big cup is classy and a good treat along with my favorite almond pastry (note: they sometimes run out :(. This little bistro is located in what was originally, back in 1885, an exclusive neighborhood modeled after a square in London, England. Now it’s a bit more seedy.
201 Berry/4th, Mission Bay – Near the baseball park. Also 3101 24th St/Folsom St, Mission A very wide and interesting variety of tasty coffee drinks. It does seem to take them time to create each masterpiece but the service and decor is quite pleasant. Basically one of the better coffee houses around. They have four total locations in the City plus one each in Palo Alto, San Jose, & Berkeley.
Patisserie Philippe, 655 Townsend St/8th, SOMA - Nice people & service. Excellent pastries and sweets. Good coffee. Why one would ever go to the Starbucks Coffee a couple doors down is beyond us.
L’acajou Bakery & Cafe, 498 9th St at the corner of 9th & Bryant, SOMA – A small new place with decent coffee, good food, and tasty baked goods. Open 7 days/week. Adjacent MotoJava motorcycle repair shop, one of the best in the City. Parking can be a little tough and expect a wait for lunch on weekdays.
Piccino Coffee Bar, 1001 Minnesota St/22d St, Dogpatch, SOMA – Go here for an outstanding Blue Bottle coffee latte. If you prefer to sit down and drink your coffee out of your own personal coffee pot go to the related Piccino Restaurant around the corner. You can order the same latte here as well.
Java Beach Cafe, 1396 La Playa St, Outer Sunset – At the end of the N-Judah Streetcar line just across the street from the beach. Two blocks south of Golden Gate Park. Great vibe, inside and outside seating, good size, fast-moving line, good organic fair trade coffee in mugs.
There is usually a crowd of locals, a few visiting surfers & travelers with packs, and some hippies (mainly trust fund hippies but maybe a couple of real ones). Plenty of benches in the little park across the street if seating is tight.
Trouble Coffee Company, 4033 Judah St, Outer Sunset - Try cinnamon toast, a fresh coconut, and latte for breakfast. Interesting & tasty.
Cafe La Flore, 1032 Clement St/12th Ave, Inner Richmond – A very comfortable neighborhood coffee shop in the Inner Richmond. They have an excellent and relatively inexpensive food menu as well (good breakfast sandwiches but marginal pastries). They also have a new branch in the Inner Sunset district at 1340 Irving St/14th Ave.
Four Barrel Coffee, 375 Valencia St/15th St, Mission – Becoming one of the most “in” coffee houses in SF even thought there is not a lot else going on in the neighborhood. Excellent coffee. Interesting modern rustic decor featuring 4 boars heads.
Grand Coffee, 2663 Mission St/23d St, Mission – A small one person shop with great Mission ambiance and pleasant service. The Four Barrel gourmet coffee served is outstanding too.
Atlas Cafe, 3049 20th St/Alabama, Mission – A neighborhood cafe where the locals habitually go for good food and coffee. Has plenty of inside seats and a nice outside patio … but gets quite busy and parking can be tough. Music Thursday evenings and late Saturday afternoons.
Dynamo Donuts & Coffee, 2760 24th St/Hampshire St, Mission – Unusual donuts (e.g., Maple Glazed Bacon Apple is their best known) which are excellent but expensive at $2-3.50 ea. Also good lattes, nice staff, and sometimes long lines.
We are lucky to have literally hundreds of places where excellent coffee is served in San Francisco. If you see a pleasant looking coffee house why not check it out like we do. Enjoy some of the best coffee houses in the world and one of the best things to do in San Francisco.