One man’s opinion: top 5 coffee shops in San Francisco

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This post appeared on SF Foodie today: San Francisco’s Top Five Coffee Shops

We’ve been to all those listed, some several times in fact. I like the reviewers scene-setting at the start, what he’s looking for in a great coffee/coffee shop. The only slightly dodgy candidate is Cafe Trieste – we’ve been there a couple of times but I think the coffee is made too hurriedly so the taste is not up to it.

Here are my previous reviews on 4 of the 5 listed:

Currently we’re drinking Reveille Coffee from their truck just around the corner from work which I’d put in the top 5 today, and of course we spent the last year drinking from Elite Audio Cafe before our office moved.

Curbside Coffee – San Francisco

One cool November day I was working at home, drizzle was threatening and I didn’t think I’d have time to get down to the Ferry Building for a coffee. But I thought I’d try – and if the drizzle or rain did come, I thought I’d stop off at Curbside Coffee, a truck I’d seen parked on Spear Street during a week day once before. Food trucks are a San Francisco staple so I did hold a glimmer of hope that the coffee would be drinkable. And it did have a table of condiments, social media badges, an actual coffee machine and white cups with a hand stamped logo.

Curbside Coffee

There were a few people milling around and regulars who didn’t need to order because the barista knew them.

I should’ve trudged on through the rain (yes, by the time I got there drizzle was turning to rain) to the Ferry Building. They didn’t have 8oz cups – if only I’d been able to spot that without having to ask then being stuck in that awkward situation when they said no … a turmoil trying to summon the courage to exclaim ‘What?! How can you make me a proper cappuccino then? Just forget it” but instead being too embarrassed, knowing that you’re not actually desperate enough for any old coffee to drink theirs and the drip at home is better, but instead saying “OK, I’ll have a latte please.” Eyeroll. So that’s what I got. A giant mug-o-searing watery latte which I had 2 sips out of when it had finally cooled after 3 blocks but carried all the way home (because I like carrying coffee (makes me feel all bouncy and famous like Ally McBeal)) only to tip it down the sink and make myself a drip coffee. I’ve since read on Yelp that Vietnamese iced coffee is the drink of choice for regulars and they rate it pretty highly.

Curbside Coffee

Shame their Twitter account is nothing more than a stream of dates they’ll be closed.

Curbside Coffee, 298 Spear St, San Francisco @curbsidesf

3 weeks in San Francisco

Can’t believe Mother & Father’s 3-week visit has been and gone – so much planning for their time here and now they’re home. The weather was fab, just a day of light rain and temps always around 20. When I look through the photos I’m amazed how blue the sky is in all of them.

Turns out there are a lot of things to do around San Francisco but and we also got out to a few places we hadn’t been before on a couple of long weekends. This is one of my favorite photos of their time here

Waterfront wandering

Apart from dragging them around a load of coffee shops, some known, some new, and a couple of rest or shopping days, here’s a run-down of what we got up to:

  • A day in Berkeley – coffee shops, University of California Botanical Gardens, dinner, sunset from Treasure Island and we almost got to drive back over the Bay Bridge as the lights came on

University of California Botanical Gardens

  • A day in Napa – stopping at Yountville to marvel at the idyllic little town and drink coffee from the Caboose, Dean & Delucca supplies for a picnic lunch at the Alpha Omega Winery and dinner at a BBQ joint in Napa

Yountville Coffee Caboose

Alpha Omega

  • Went to the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday celebrations – walked through Chrissy Field, visited the bridge history tent, ate fried green tomatoes from a food truck, watched (with hundreds of thousands of people!) awesome awesome fireworks coming out of the bridge accompanied by a light show and songs featuring San Francisco, waited in a line around the block with hundreds of people for a free bus back into the city where we arrived home freezing after midnight for a hot drink!

Golden Gate 75th birthday celebrations

Golden Gate 75th birthday celebrations

Here’s the official fireworks video (about 20 minutes long)

  • Took a long weekend road trip to Santa Cruz, Big Sur, a secret beach with purple sand and Monterrey where we visited the aquarium, dined at some fabulous restaurants (one seafood, one Italian) and drove through miles and miles of fruit and vegetable crops and saw the world’s supply of artichokes!

Santa Cruz

Big Sur

Big Sur

Pfeiffer Beach


  • Drove for a day around the top spots – Muir Woods, Sausalito, new coffee shop on Filmore, Lombard Street, Coit Tower and home passed the Trans-America Tower

Muir Woods


Jane's on Filmore

Lombard Street

Coit Tower

Coit Tower

TransAmerica Tower

  • Poked around the Saturday market at the Ferry Building and had a BBQ feast out at Bev and Dan’s place

Saturday at the Ferry Market

Pleasant Hill BBQ

  • Joined the hippies at the Haight Street festival and wandered through Golden Gate Park

Haight Street Festival

Golden Gate Park

And somewhere in between all that, Mother & Father had a few days at Yosemite and went across to Alcatraz. A pretty full 3 weeks overall!

Orange Civic Center

Lots of things around town displayed orange for the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday celebrations. I especially loved seeing San Francisco’s City Hall/Civic Center all lit up in orange last night as we were coming home from the fireworks display.

Orange Civic Centre

Human 75 for the bridge’s birthday

Here’s the photo from the helicopter after a crowd of us in orange attempted to make the outline of the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday but had to reassemble at the last minute into a 75 because there weren’t enough people. Gorgeous orange line shows roughly where we were on the 7 – Happy Birthday bridge!


Human Golden Gate Bridge

We joined lots of orange clad people yesterday morning at Crissy Field to make a human Golden Gate bridge, to be photographed from a helicopter with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, to be made into a postcard as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations. Something like this from the Golden Gate National Parks website:


However, not enough people showed up, the dogs in their orange outfits didn’t even make up enough numbers, so they opted to just do the 75 out of humans. Not sure if they’re going to Photoshop in the other 1000 people they needed or just make a big 75 on the grass in front of the bridge – that’d be kind of cool I reckon. We were on the side of the 7 so hopefully we can see ourselves although so many people in orange it’s doubtful! There was a woman in the crowd who’d walked across the bridge on the day it opened in 1937 with her grandparents and she got up on the organizer’s ladder to tell us about it via megaphone with loads of clapping and cheering!

Originally we were going to stand on the deck of the bridge on the San Francisco side – the organizers marked our orange spot

Crissy Field to make a human bridge

And we dutifully stood there with patches of people making up the towers and the central suspension cable

Crissy Field to make a human bridge

Once we were all asked to abandon our posts and reassemble into the 75 it looked a bit more dense so I think they made the right decision

Crissy Field to make a human bridge

Now we wait until Tuesday to see the actual photo from the helicopter, and sometime later in the year the postcards! How exciting to be part of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday, even though I do have affections for the Bay Bridge – it was 75 late last year but there were no official celebrations (the bridge is pretty pissed about that, it told me so on Twitter!) Next weekend Crissy Field will be overrun by thousands gathering for an actual birthday party and fireworks.

Urban meadow

There’s an Urban Meadow on the walk to work – some might say abandoned lot – but it’s fenced off, has a beehive, lots of long flowing grass and other weedy looking things (could be anything, after all this is San Francisco) and today I noticed, lots of orange flowers that have bloomed in the last couple of days in the mini heat wave. Very pretty.

Urban Meadow

Urban Meadow

You know you’re a real San Franciscan when

Saw this article in SF Gate recently – You know you’re a real San Franciscan when … and that made me think of a few things myself.

You know you’re real a San Franciscan when you …

  • Have a back door channel for what’s going on in the city via the Bay Bridge twitter account and are on a first name basis with him
  • Can walk up 5th Street and avoid an encounter with a homeless and/or crazy person
  • Can cross the road without being tooted at
  • Don’t walk up Powell Street unless you have to, like if that Walgreens is actually closest
  • Don’t ride on the open-sided street cars that have camera laden tourists hanging off the side of them
  • Know where the nearest Post Office is
  • Know where to buy envelopes and posting material, because you can’t get them from the Post Office
  • Don’t stare at same sex couples holding hands
  • Don’t take pictures and gasp and point when you see someone with a Twitter, Facebook or Square logo on their laptop sleeve, backpack or t-shirt
  • Ignore naked people in the street
  • Have a Clipper Card
  • Use Luxor or Uber cabs and have an app for that
  • Know what holiday ‘420’ is in celebration of
  • Go to the Ferry Building over Pier 39 or Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Know the sweet spot for avoiding long lines at the Ferry Building at various times of the year

I’m sure there are more that I’ll realize as time goes on – perhaps I’ll keep this as an open list.

Office tour

This video is a bit jerky but I took a bit of a sweep around our end of StartupHQ – the shared warehouse space we’re currently based in.

Wholefoods Restaurant

Wholefoods is an organic supermarket and is often referred to as WholePaycheck – expensive. And they don’t have regular olive oil, only extra and extra extra virgin – obviously I don’t understand organics or olive oil because it’s a mystery to me why they wouldn’t have just olive oil. They have something else I haven’t noticed in other supermarkets – a little table area where you can sit and enjoy a delicious box or plate of food that you’ve dished up from a stainless steel buffet in store. Often with a small oven, microwave or toaster area as well so you can toast up the bagels you just bought.

The other day I waited inside near the exit which was near the cafe area, for The Mister to grab some milk so I got to watch the people who use the cafe for a while. I saw

  • a woman who sidled up to the utensils area and liberated several handfuls of straws, at different times, checking her watch or pretend-busying herself with her bag of shopping in between handfuls thinking no-one was watching
  • a guy having a piece of toast, talking to himself and occasionally shouting out about the price of stuff these days
  • a guy who came in with his own Tupperware (Glad or plastic, for my US readers) container of left-overs for dinner and used the microwave to heat it up and sat down and ate it there
  • an old woman stuck in automatic opening door hell – she was hovering inside the door to keep out of the bitter wind (which is why I was inside) but every time she moved the door opened. Eventually I overheard she was waiting for a taxi. She kept going out to see if it was there yet. A couple of times took her shopping cart with her but didn’t go out far enough and the doors closed, jamming her and her shopping on either side. She decided to leave the cart inside and after a while when no-one was coming, thought it safe to leave it there and went out to look by herself. But the doors shut and she couldn’t open them from the outside, had to wait for a shopper on their way out to activate them open, but as they approached the doors she started shouting and gesturing at them to not steal her groceries. It wasn’t funny … but it was …