San Francisco Cafes
Espresso Drinks, Free WiFi, and Relaxation
Ritual Coffee Roasters - Highly Recommended in the Mission
San Francisco has better cafes than almost anywhere else in the country. Taking a little time out of your day to relax and enjoy a
cup of java is a great way to spend your vacation. Bring a good book and check out cafes near your hotel, including Union Square, or venture out to the
neighborhoods where the best cafes are.
Mission District Cafes:
Muddy's - 24th Street @ Valencia
Part of the popular Mission District Muddy Waters chain -- Muddy's has wireless access and passable mochas in the heart of
the Southern Mission District. Run down, yet comfortable- Muddy's let's you see how the San Francisco locals live in the Mission District (including a few interesting ones..). The cafe
has both wireless access and rental computers. This location can be a bit sketchy - not the safest area. We now recommend Ritual Coffee Roasters nearby (see below).
Ritual Coffee Roasters
Ritual Coffee Roasters is highly recommended in the Mission. Expect loud music and big crowds -- for a reason. 1026 Valencia. A very cool place except for the ban on plugging in laptops - they've got more customers than they know what to do with. Slow service - expect to be very patient. Very good drinks - worth the wait.
The coffee connesiers at Ritual Roasters take coffee very seriously and often travel to remote farms in South America for the best beans for in-house roasting. Ritual Roasters have taken the San Francisco wine bar trend and replaced it with coffee, a result that will give your taste buds a bouquet of flavors: fruity, sweet, elegant. If you want to sample the differences in acidity and body of the Honduras and Columbian coffees, stop by on a Friday at 1pm for their weekly coffee cuppings, that is, if their best baristas aren’t off in LA for the National Barista Championships.
Behind the bar may be a serious coffee-making enterprise with baristas rigorously trained—and a sleeve of tattoos to prove it—but the café itself is trendy and urban, with java drinkers fueled with strong, fresh coffee either chatting with friends or working on laptops. There are plush couches for the casual readers, tables for working or catching up with friends, or the bar for a quick espresso. The simple white gallery-style walls are covered with the art of a local featured artist that changes periodically, making it look like a typical café in San Francisco. But just beyond the bar is the massive Probat coffee roasting apparatus constantly in operation by the roasting experts and piles of bags filled with premium beans from all over the world, a sight rarely seen in most cafes.
But it’s the coffee that makes Ritual Roasters unique. Every cup of coffee is freshly brewed with a French press or the clover machine--which makes a slightly lighter brew--plus all of standard espresso drinks: Americano, espresso, cappuccino, latte, etc. You won’t find any new-fangled eggnog caramel frappachino concoctions at Ritual Roasters, which would taint the carefully roasted and brewed beans, all of which scored 85 percent or higher in the International Judging Panel, an organization Dunkin Donuts has probably never heard of. The freshness and strength of the coffee has javaholics lined up outside the door in the mornings, but after the rush you should be able to find a comfortable seat and enjoy the effects of carefully brewed liquid fuel.
On occasion Ritual Coffee features an exclusive, high quality coffee in small quantities. The most recent was the Geisha from a small farm in Panama, a brew that lasted in the café about five minutes. But for those lucky few who got to taste it experienced a smooth, sweet, fruity brew that was so velvety it didn’t even need milk.
The coffee experts at Ritual Roasters are a rare example of the possibilities of taking coffee brewing to the next level but without getting caught up in the buzz. While other aficionados are buying up the raccoon-digested coffee beans at 200 dollars a pound, the experts at Ritual stick to quality not hype, realizing that the coffee tastes like exactly what it is—coffee beans that have gone through the digestive track of raccoons. Every step that goes into getting the coffee into your cup has heart, seriousness, and passion, a difference that can be tasted in every sip of Ritual Roasters coffee. Review by Jesse Whitman
Mission Creek Cafe
Relatively quiet and comfortable cafe in the Mission District with good free WiFi. Pretty good coffee drinks and service, with CD played music. If you need a quiet place to get a WiFi signal in the Mission and get some work done - this is the place. Not a "deluxe" place like Ritual or for socializing, but a strong, basic performer. Cell phone conversations are not allowed and $6 minimum purchase for use of WiFi (?) Very personal service from the owner and his family - he likes to chat. 968 Valencia in San Francisco / 415-641-0888
Union Square Cafes:
Cafe Francisco's owner writes, ".. My cafe, Cafe Francisco, has a history of beatniks and artists of all mediums that reads
like a who's who of San Francisco. You can still find Lawrence Ferlinghetti sitting at the front window table sipping a cup o'joe now and again, and if you
ask him, he'll tell you the history of the neighborhood. He's lived there since God created North Beach (pre-City Lights Bookstore-if you can believe
that!)." 2161 Powell Street
Used in Sharon Stone's lovefest "Basic Instinct", Tosca is a really cool café in North Beach. The red
leather upholstered dark arena is only disturbed by the loud bass booms from the next door vile pick-up bar. It's always dark and waiters wear short white
waistcoats. The cafe's specialty Fis a coffeeless cappuccino -- steamed milk, brandy, and chocolate. A truly cool SF landmark and not to be missed. Andy's
Touristy but very Italian in North Beach and an easy walk down Columbus Street from Tosca (see above) on your
"Café Crawl." The Real World girl applied for a job here and was thankfully turned down live on T.V. Lots of international types hang out here.
In North Beach, this is the authentic Italiano place to hang out. Boasting "Espresso, Cappuccino, Vino,
and Panini...", Greco is where you will find San Francisco's most notorious Italian citizens sipping caffeine and discussing politics. Highly recommended
by long-time San Franciscan F.G., they actually import coffee beans roasted in Italy and have an awesome espresso machine. You will feel like you've really
travelled to Italy. There are nice outdoor tables on Columbus and they serve sandwiches too. Andy rating=A
423 Columbus near Stockton 397-6261
Richmond / Sunset / Castro
Alvins has a cool location on the booming / yupifying Sunset District close to many other breakfast spots. Alvin does all his own coffee
roasting to ensure the best flavors. The cafe features coffees from Arabic and Armenian to Rocket Fuel. The shop has huge windows that slide open to allow for
flow-through, a very european environment. Our personal favorite coffee is Aida, from the House Blends selection. The relaxing atmosphere of the cafe makes it
a great place to hang-out, relax, and meet locals.
1708 Irving Street. 415-661-2888.
"Espresso Caffe & Art Gallery" located in the Richmond district is a huge
cafe frequented by students and people looking to plug in a laptop. They feature local artists and a full sandwich menu including beer & wine. The cafe
has a warm, cozy feeling including a lounge area with couches. The lounge area is limited to parties of four or more. As a place to hang out, relax, and meet
friends -- the Zephyr is becoming a fast favorite in this quieter section of town. Zephyr - 3643 Balboa @ 38th Avenue - 221-6063
This place is awesome to hang out at. The sfTravel staff photographer used to live at this place with his own memorial table. Great
food, really cool teakettles made of iron, the kind of atmosphere that begs you to stay & stay. Major minus is the yuppie infestation at this place which
is of course, in the Marina. They have now even had to post signs requesting patrons to hang out no more than an hour. That's how fun
it is to stay there. A good place before a movie or after dinner. Andy's rating=A-
There are only a few of these and they're pretty cool. You can hang out, meet people, read and have fun. The best part is the bags of coffee
you can sit on just like a bean bag chair. Great coffee, cool workers, good food. The Roasteries are on Chestnut Street in the yuppified
Marina and the nearby Union Street District. Andy's rating=B+. 2331 Chestnut Street 931-5282 / 2191 Union Street 922-9559
Peets Well, it's a Bay Area chain with character. A pretty cool place and relatively inviting to hang out at. Originally in the East
Bay, there are not a lot in San Francisco. They have really dark, strong coffee and the stores smells really good. Probably the best place for that
"dirty sock" coffee. Andy's rating=B