A good, strong cup is always a priority -- but it's not always the whole story.

Take Cafe Abir, for instance, a stand-out coffee joint (and more) in the Western Addition (1300 Fulton Street, at Divisidero; no Web site!! Join the 1990s, man!!).

At this place, it's all about atmosphere. Huge space, high ceilings, lots of air, lots of natural light . . . it's just very comfortable. Distinct Middle Eastern vibe, what with the adverts for old sheik-type movies from the Douglas Fairbanks era and a few paintings that are generally evocative of antiquities and Ozymandias, king of kings. The floors are lined with large tiles; the ceiling lamps are covered in wicker . . . oh, and let's not forget that goofy "camel wall," by far the coolest element in the place. But more on that in a minute.

It's that time again -- a good cup of coffee is elusive, and the Trimethyldioxypurist is roaming through the desert of fatigue in search of a boost. But what's this? An oasis? What better way to escape from the grueling San Francisco wasteland than in one of its neighborhood coffee joints?