May 13th, 2013 — Reviews
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.
December 15th, 2012 — Reviews
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.
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.
Shame their Twitter account is nothing more than a stream of dates they’ll be closed.
Curbside Coffee, 298 Spear St, San Francisco @curbsidesf
October 31st, 2012 — Reviews
This place always shows up on maps of good coffee near our apartment but we never get a chance to go because it’s only open week days, office hours. It’s part way along an alley that runs behind a main street – you have to step over a few homeless people and walk beside a building site and there it is, just a little cubby hole.
They use Blue Bottle coffee and definitely make it Blue Bottle Ferry Building-style – great strong flavor and thick milk, although a little bubbly.
Lucky people who work in office buildings around here! Cash only and service was quick. And I think a quicker round trip that the Ferry Building on working-at-home days.
Special Xtra, 46 Minna St (between 2nd St & Shaw Aly), San Francisco
August 12th, 2012 — Reviews
Yesterday we visited another new coffee bar in San Francisco, this time in the Mission. I’m still somewhat mystified about why people go on about how great the Mission is – great food, good vibe, cool shops – the few times I’ve been out there it’s been full of ragamuffins, people shouting, sticky streets and an overwhelming smell of piss. And that was the case yesterday when we got out of the BART – this cafe certainly wasn’t on our way anywhere so I was really piling on the expectations when my nostrils were assaulted by that smell and I had to step around unsavory items in the street. However, after walking a few blocks, things smelled better and looked lovely and summery.
The reason we were all the way out here looking for this cafe is because of a neat exchange I had on Twitter with the cafe, after seeing someone tweet something about it, I realised it was one I hadn’t heard of – when they tweeted they did a flat white, we decided to visit them the very next weekend.
We came upon the cafe in what felt like the middle of nowhere, some industrial buildings, some residential, behind a fence and hedge – I wondered if everyone was going to turn and stare at us when we went through the gap! (They didn’t, they were all enjoying the sunny courtyard and the door to the cafe was obvious so I didn’t have that moment of panic wondering where you go, where you order, do you sit first or order at the counter …?)
We ordered our flat whites and croissant and found a very cool counter seat upstairs where we spent quite a while watching people come and go from the cafe and many people who’d set up camp with their Macs, taking ages drinking their iced lattes so they could stay there using the wi-fi – except for the 3 people who sat at the counter next to us who had 4 Windows laptops between them – The Mister was most put out having to share his air space with them although thought it was hilarious that they turned the machines on then had time to go downstairs and order while they booted up.
Anyway, the flat whites were delicious. Not too much different from a well made cappuccino – good and strong with consistent thick milk. Definitely worth another visit if we can find a different mode of transport to get out there. I’ve discovered they’ve got a smaller place on Montgomery but it’s only open office hours – no weekends, which doesn’t suit us as we’re never in that part of town during the week.
Coffee Bar, 1890 Bryant St, San Francisco @coffeebarsf
August 6th, 2012 — Reviews
We were out and about in the Castro yesterday, came across a great men’s store and found one of the knitting stores I’d seen online – a bit overwhelming on my first visit trying to figure out which was baby 4ply and which was double knitting but definitely somewhere I can find my way back to when I’ve run out of my current bag of wool. We were going to stop for coffee in the Castro, found one place online we wanted to try but when we walked into the narrow store with glass cabinets of coffee beans and a Pete’s/Starbucks smell and a tiny Cimbali machine in the corner we decided to give it a miss. Also, no food. We’d also seen someone in the men’s store with a Blue Bottle cup and after an unsuccessful attempt by me to chase him down we asked one of the guys working in the store if there was a Blue Bottle near by – apparently yes! A cart near the BART station we’d arrived into an hour earlier. It was gone by the time we got back there.
So we rode the tram back down Market to do a couple of things in town and while en route I remembered a cafe Ma’velous that we’d trammed passed a couple of times – it’s on a part of Market that you don’t really walk to and in a reasonably unsavory part of town, above 7th Street. However, it had been on my very very first coffee list when we came to visit San Francisco early last year before moving here so decided it was finally time to stop. When we got out we realized we were standing in front of the huge building that Twitter and Yammer are moving into – it’s apparently going to be part of town that explodes as the next San Francisco tech scene.
And Ma’velous was right across the street. Inside, odd narrow small place that you can tell is a bar by night. Actually from the outside it looks a bit like a bar or even anonymous in the less that lovely street.
Sometimes these kinds of places make crap coffee, but given that there was nothing but a bar, a back shelf of beautiful wine bottles and a gleaming glass-enclosed coffee machine taking center stage gave us hope! The machine is a La Marzocco, but it has glass casing – fascinating! There were only about 5 people in the cafe.
No cookies, so we just got 2 cappuccinos. The guy was meticulous making them and they were so velvety and smooth. The flavor was strong and almost recognizably Stumptown but with a definite cinnamon flavor.
We sat down the back on some old green colored retro chairs with ashtrays in the arm rests next to some odd lampshades. The place is going to be overrun when Twitter and Yammer move into the neighborhood.
Ma’velous, 1408 Market Street, San Francisco
June 22nd, 2012 — Out and about, Urban family
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
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
- 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
- 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!
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!
- 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
- Poked around the Saturday market at the Ferry Building and had a BBQ feast out at Bev and Dan’s place
- Joined the hippies at the Haight Street festival and wandered through 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!
June 11th, 2012 — Reviews
After a wander around Golden Gate Park with Mother and Father yesterday we had rather a long wait for the bus so wandered over a couple of blocks to get the Muni train instead – which took us right across the road from Beanery which I’d seen before in my SF Coffee pp. We’d been passed before but I wasn’t too sure from the outside what it would be like – looks a little ‘chain store’ from the outside.
I began to worry about the quality of the coffee during the ordering process. Even though I’d read they roast a couple times a week and the roaster was indeed in the front of the cafe for all to see, I was concerned when I was asked for a double or single shot cappuccino and I noticed a sign that advertised pumpkin spice lattes – those are chain store offerings.
I went for a double and it was rather grey and ashy with quite sharp edge. If I didn’t know their coffee was roasted frequently I would’ve said it tasted stale. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to go back there but it will be OK if I need a coffee while waiting for the Muni train in that part of town again. The scone was good. The cafe was also quite hot and stuffy – the door was open but I don’t think they had a fan or air conditioning going.
Beanery, 1307 9th Ave (between Irving St & Judah St), San Francisco
June 10th, 2012 — Reviews
We’ve called into Haight Street Market to the Blue Bottle kiosk a couple of times now. The baristas there aren’t as good as the actual Blue Bottle cafes and carts but decent enough. Often the milk is a little too frothy and hot but still tastes of Blue Bottle.
Our visit this Sunday coincided with the Haight Asbury Street Fair which was what we’ve come to learn is a typical city neighborhood street fair – apart from t-shirts and art work by local artists or featuring tourist scenes there’s all kinds of food being prepared over gas grills – corn cobs, pop corn, giant hot dogs, fruit smoothies, battered anythin
g and fry-up. The Haight Ashbury Fair featured a fair few people a bit floaty on the local grass with lots of free spirits in the street. We battled our way through the closed main street to take Mother and Father into the Haight Street Market for a coffee on our way to Golden Gate Park.
Haight Street Market, 1530 Haight Street, San Francisco @HaightStMarket
June 8th, 2012 — Reviews
What a find!! Relatively new I think but discovered on my SF Best Coffee iPhone app – happened to be fairly close to a route we took with Mother and Father on the way back from Sausalito to Coit Tower. I read that the owner is a pastry chef and they use Stumptown coffee.
It’s just in the middle of one of those smaller intersection shopping areas that are dotted around the San Francisco City suburbs.
Inside there are half a dozen tables downstairs, an L-shaped bar (where we sat) and another bar and 3 or 4 coffee table spots on a mezzanine.
The coffee was delicious – strong, thick, Stumptown goodness. And the strawberry lemon sponge was amazing! Mother got it for herself but none of the rest of us could resist helping her eat to the last crumb.
They have great counter food, baking and quiches and a simple brunch menu including toast – very rare to see toast on a menu so will definitely be finding a day to go back there for breakfast.
Jane’s Cafe, 2123 Fillmore St, San Francisco @janeonfilmore
May 28th, 2012 — Orange
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.