Considering the eclectic mix of humans that call San Francisco home, it’s no surprise that this Bay Area hub is always on the cutting edge of so many new and exciting trends. And no matter how varied all these sects of San Franciscans are—from techies, to artists and everything in between—there’s a common thread that seems to unify everyone: a loving appreciation of artisanal coffee. It’s with that notion in mind that local connoisseurs have opened a wellspring of coffee shops that offer a sophisticated take on your classic cup of Joe.
Cut rate bagged beans won’t be found in these joints—not even close! And while cynics may lament at the cost associated with a delicately crafted cup, there’s no denying the craftsmanship at work here. Before your next venture in the San Francisco coffee scene, take a look at these editor-approved shops that will give you a whole new appreciation for your morning cup of liquid energy.
This Oakland-based roaster satisfies even the pickiest palettes in S.F. with its purist approach to beans. Coffee fanatics reach for its cold brews or pour-overs crafted individually on drip bars. Hit the Ferry Building location (pictured above, and one of several in the city) for a quintessential cup with a side of artisan shopping.
The original Jane opened its doors on San Francisco's adored Fillmore Street in 2011 and quickly became a local favorite. There’s always a line at this intimate space, designed by interiors guru, Ken Fulk. Stop by Jane for great coffee (they offer Stumptown Coffee and Strauss Organic Dairy, exclusively), fresh baked goods, and other delicious bites like salads and sandwiches. Treat yourself to an artfully crafted espresso or pour-over, or delight in a cup of Stumptown cold brew, which Jane serves on tap.
Specialty tea, coffee, and accessories retailer David Rio was established in San Francisco in 1996 by co-founders Scott (David) Lowe and Rio Miura. The company's first storefront, a 2,600-square-foot Chai Bar opened last May on San Francisco's Market Street and serves a wide range of David Rio chai products, as well as locally roasted fair-trade coffee, house-made tea-infused elixirs, and sophisticated bites. Step into the Chai Lab, where patrons can test developing products and recipes, and offer feedback.
Perhaps the most unique element of this business is the incorporation of David Rio's commitment to animal welfare: Each of the expertly crafted chai products (like the signature Tiger Spice Chai) is named for an endangered animal. Regular donations are made to to the International Fund for Animal Welfare's (IFAW) tiger and elephant initiatives.
Stop at Craftsman and Wolves if you appreciate French technique and an emphasis on seasonal selections. Their pastries and confectionary bakery options, as well as their delightful savory fare and signature drinks, are lauded and loved amongst San Franciscans. The brand's flagship location opened in June 2012 in the Mission District, with design elements dreamed up by Zack | de Vito Architecture. The expansive space boasts high ceilings and exposed brick walls that both acknowledge the building's history and offer a clean, modern aesthetic. The must-try menu item? The velvety, rich, and intense Valrhona Sipping Chocolate with seasonal marshmallows. Yum!
Giulietta Carrelli opened the doors to Trouble Coffee's first location in the Outer Sunset in 2006, with $1,000 and a mission to cultivate not just a coffee shop, but an involved community of loyal locals. The menu here is simple—it only contains a few items, including custom-blended coffee, whole young coconuts (yes, coconuts!), fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and thick slices of fresh toast, covered in sweet toppings. Word on the street is that the toast trend that's swept the nation as of late actually originted in this unassuming joint.