magazine | Food & Drinks | Coffee Shops

17 of San Francisco's Most Unique Coffee Shops

photo: nevrous
San Francisco may arguably be one of the best places for independently owned coffee shops in the country, after all it is home to big names such as Verve, Blue Bottle and Ritual. But you’ll also find hole-in-the-wall secret, neighborhood hotspots helmed by the most passionate of people as well as bright and beautiful roasteries complete with gorgeous gathering spaces you need to know about. Whether you’re looking for the purest, most perfect pour-over or a customizable affogato bar, there’s a little something every coffee lover.

Reporter: Katie Bush
Photo: Dan Hogman
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The Interval at Long Now

San Francisco, California
The only serious cocktail bar on this list, The Interval at Long Now also doubles as a cafe, museum and the home of The Long Now Foundation. To say its one-of-a-kind is an understatement. Home to “Conversations at The Interval,” which are intimate salon style events, centered around long-term thinking, featuring renowned authors, scientists and artists paired with a cocktail program, coffee, tea and bites.
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20th Century Cafe

San Francisco, California
“Deliciously glamorous,” 20th Century Cafe was born of the owner’s idea for a little “grand” cafe. And grand it is, drawing flavor profiles from the owner’s travels through Vienna, Budapest and Prague coupled with a love of California produce. It’s a cafe to while away an afternoon, sipping and nibbling on a variety of goods baked with 20 years worth of love and experience.
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Sightglass Coffee

San Francisco, California
Kicking off this list is none other than Sightglass Coffee, whose 7th Street flagship space is a production roastery, dynamic open coffee bar, community gathering space and company headquarters. You’ll also find a completely customizable affogatto bar here (read: espresso + ice cream), which is basically like the best ice cream parlor in the world + coffee.
Photo: David J. Wu
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Verve Coffee Roasters

San Francisco, California
Verve isn’t simply a coffee house it’s an inspired institution, born in Santa Cruz with outposts in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and Japan. The SF cafe is located right on Market St. and is punctuated by light wood, swashes of dark navy, sweet succulents and the aroma of coffee done right, from farm to street level.
Photo: Kenny Wong
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The Mill SF

San Francisco, California
At The Mill SF, they “baked some bread and milled some coffee for you,” except they spend all their waking hours (and non) working on these two beautifully simple, yet complex things. The coffee is hand-roasted in their vintage roaster after spending months of the year with coffee growers in East Africa and millers in Latin America. The bread is Josey Baker Bread, born of a Mission apartment in 2010, now they bake about 350 loaves a day, 7 days a week. And if you’re craving a little something else, stop by from 6-9p every day for a slice of pizza, homemade of course.
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Cafe Réveille

San Francisco, California
Cafe Réveille is a study in serious coffee paired with a playful and inviting design, which is punctuated by modern pops of pink. Choose from two locations in SF, Mission Bay and the Lower Haight, and let this sweet shop cure all your caffeine cravings while also being a banging brunch spot with a full, delicious menu.
Photo: heyyitschey
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Trouble Coffee

Oakland, California
With an ethos of truth and trouble, Trouble Coffee has three, unique locations in the Bay Area – Ocean Beach, Bayview and West Oakland. Born of a dream and built from scraps and friendship, these coffeehouses are serving soul on tap. Each cafe tells a chapter of the owner’s life and has become a network of resources for those looking for a cup of beautifully brewed coffee or instructions on how to build a literal or proverbial house.
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Blue Bottle Coffee South Park

San Francisco, California
In the midst of Giants Stadium, the Bay Bridge and the Bay itself lies a smaller gathering space with just as much ambition. Blue Bottle Coffee, renowned much the world over, is constantly innovating and creating new methods for the enjoyment of coffee. This cafe will debut their first-ever bar for mixed coffee drinks, cold bar, where single origins, Oji and cold brew will be alternately shaken or stirred in various cocktail-inspired preparations. But expect familiar Blue Bottle favorites like pour-overs, fruit buckles and a delicious menu.
Photo: sophia.gb
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Four Barrel Coffee Portola

San Francisco, California
Four Barrel Coffee is an independent, locally owned coffee roastery with a pair of cafes under their collective belts, while also being partners in The Mill SF (also on this list). Hidden at the end of a nondescript alleyway lies the uber cool Portola location, where a latte and pistachio croissant will make any day instantly brighter.
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Mission Heirloom

Berkeley, California
While it is not technically in SF (but well worth the sojourn), Mission Heirloom is a study in gastronomy for a coffee shop, serving re-imagined traditions with top-notch ingredients, all organic, gluten and grain free, in a greenhouse complete with edible garden. Sip, savor and nosh in a greenhouse, or stop by the marketplace and pick up the freshest fare and a cup to go.
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Paramo Coffee

San Francisco, California
With a variety of rave reviews and "Top Coffee Shop" lists under their brewing belts, Paramo Coffee is still unassuming, straightforward and forthright in putting the partner goods they carry in the limelight. Their espresso and milk is “life changing” and the quiet space a perfect escape for a quiet morning or place to work without distraction.
Photo: coatandcoffee
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Le Marais Bakery

San Francisco, California
What would this list be without the most perfect French cafe, bistro and bakery to be both lost and deliciously found in? Le Marais Bakery, based on the French boulangerie of the owner’s childhood is covetable tilework, delicate cafe chairs, Tiffany blue accents and the most beautiful pastries we’ve seen this side of the Seine. House made beignets, croissants, breads and pastries filled with farm fruits and Valrhona chocolate pair perfectly with superb lattes and fresh brews.
Photo: coatandcoffee
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Hollow

San Francisco, California
The epitome of a word-of-mouth local hotspot, Hollow is the coffee heart and soul of the Inner Sunset neighborhood. Beautifully poured lattes and a variety of homemade baked goods punctuate a shop that personifies the inviting ethos “cold hands, warm coffee,” a port in the storm of life if you will.
Photo: Esther Jeong
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Saint Frank Coffee

San Francisco, California
Named for the city of San Francisco or “more specifically the beloved Saint Francis who showed all things seemingly mundane and ordinary to be special,” Saint Frank is certainly the spot for a very special cup of coffee. With four locations throughout the city, one accessible only to Facebook employees and a roastery, the Saint Francis model is clearly working. Intentionally sourced coffee, served in a variety of ways - flights, cuppings, limited time signature drinks, all in utterly lovely and thoughtful cafes you won’t want to leave.
Photo: Bruce Damonte
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Red Door Coffee

San Francisco, California
The self-proclaimed “dopest coffee shop in SOMA,” Red Door Coffee may be just that. Proudly serving some of San Fran’s finest in coffee (Four Barrel), tea (David Rio), donuts (Dynamo Donuts) and bread (Josey Baker Bread), among others, in a modern, almost futuristic setting.
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Ritual Coffee Roasters Hayes Valley

San Francisco, California
When speaking about San Francisco coffee, Ritual Coffee Roasters isn’t simply inthe conversation, it started the conversation, almost 13 years ago now. Started as a love note to a beloved city, owner Eileen Rinaldi picked locations for all her cafes based on where she wants to spend her “moments before the days get crazy.” With six locations throughout the city serving “the best cup of coffee available anywhere,” including a sweet spot in a shipping container and the new “Cup and Star Bar” open at the Oxbow Public Market, it’s clear San Francisco has embraced this beautiful brand as well. 
Photo: Mindy Gayer
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Mazarine Coffee

San Francisco, California
Inspired by the story of the Bibliothèque Mazarine, the first public library in France, Mazarine Coffee can be thought of as an artfully assembled collection of sourced coffees, food and beverages. It’s also a lovely spot to sit and enjoy a quiet moment alone or an engaging conversation with a friend.

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