The best coffee shop in San Francisco, if we're being realistic, is the one closest to your house. But for those times when you need to enjoy your coffee in a carefully curated environment, San Francisco has no shortage of upstanding places to get the jitters. Here now, SFist's picks for any sort of caffeination situation.
Trouble Coffee Company
The Outer Sunset's home of the original $4 toast been in business since 2007, serving fat cinnamon buttered bread back when Google still promised not to be evil. You can learn all you need to know, and more, about iconoclast founder Giulietta Carrelli in an article that one Trouble barista described to me as launching "a serious wave of tragedy tourism" to the shop. There's no wi-fi or outlets, and indoor seating is scarce (there's two bars, that's it), but there are benches and a parklet right outside for those impervious to the westside weather. — Eve Batey
4033 Judah, between 44th and 45th Avenues
Bernie's owner and operator, SF native Bernie Melvin, graduated from since-closed J. Eugene McAteer High School in 1991, spent some time working for Big Coffee, then brought what she learned from the big guys home to Noe Valley (and, more recently, Crocker Galleria). This place is run like a tight ship, but has the warmth and friendliness you expect from a nabe coffee joint. Other area natives say they see "faces from high school in front of and behind the counter," and I know people who will cross town to stop by, suggesting that relationships at Bernie's run deep. This is no fly by night java hut, and it's nice knowing that every dollar you spend there is going to great people with strong ties to the community. — Eve Batey
3966 24th Street, between Sanchez and Noe
Photo of siphon pots at Blue Bottle Mint Plaza: Jun Y/Yelp
Blue Bottle (Mint Plaza)
Sure, you can't swing a cat without hitting a bag of Blue Bottle beans these days, but there's still something to their location in Mint Plaza. When it opened in January of 2008, the area was very different then it is today: The Chronicle actually occupied its entire building, Mid-Market wasn't a thing, and the only people wandering the area were errant tourists, denizens of Sixth Street, employees of the abutting pawn shop, and journalists. All of those folks originally converged at this fancy new coffee place and its $20,000 rig. A seeming eternity later, you'll see lots of new techie faces (Glass is DEFINITELY a thing) waiting in the out-the-door-crazy lines. But the tech ends soon after, with no wi-fi or outlets from their many high seats. Calm down, your cell signal's fine here, you won't miss much. — Eve Batey
66 Mint Plaza, behind the big pawn shop
Saint Frank's (Jenn N./Yelp)
Saint Frank's Coffee
Though I do wish they would come back to South Park, the fine folks at Saint Frank's Coffee recently opened at store on Russian Hill. And what a shop it is! They deliver great coffee (a given). But best of all, their coffee machine is located under the counter, thus opening up the area for better interactions between you and the barista. A welcoming place in an increasingly detached industry. — Brock Keeling
2340 Polk (at Green)
Réveille Coffee Company (Castro)
Reveille sits in the heart of Castro. Yes, it's got all of the artisan cafe trappings: white tile, reclaimed wood, excellent coffee, expert baristas. The best reason to check out Réveille Castro locale, though is due to the fact that the place is brimming with gay couples on dates and young queers working on their laptops. — Brock Keeling
4076 18th Street (at Castro)
Open and airy. Sightglass is huge. Weekdays are better than weekends. (The SoMa coffeehouse also prompted this brutally delightful 7x7 piece that's a must-read regarding the city's current coffee scene.) — Brock Keeling
270 7th Street (at Folsom)
3014 20th Street (at Florida)
Though the many people in line may deter you, your wait in line in front of the bearded techster and behind that girl wearing a Holly Hobbie dress will be greatly rewarded with some of the finest coffee in town (roasted on the premises). If you don't want to wait in line (though you should because they carry some of the best doughnuts in town), you can head over to the pour over bar for a quickie. (Don't believe the haters: the staff here is super friendly and eager to please.) — Brock Keeling
375 Valencia (at 15th Street)
(Photo credit: A.W.)
Take a deep breath, forget the hype and remember it's just a coffee shop. A coffee shop with toast. Despite the lines that can hit the door on Sundays when the Farmers Market is across the street, things tend to move quickly here. But do yourself a favor and pop in on a regular weekday afternoon when you need an Americano and a moment away from your computer. As is de rigueur there's no WiFi, so we can only assume the two or three people on laptops must be working pretty hard on their novels. —Andrew Dalton
736 Divisadero (between Fulton and Grove)
People using laptops at Coffee Bar on Bryant Street. (Photo: Matt Pagel)
Come. Sit. Hunker down for hours. You'll be right at home with the other laptop jockeys. Like the coffee, you'll pay a premium for better WiFi, but if you're all about bandwidth and caffeine and banging away on Apple products and never going to a real office, Coffee Bar is your home base. Their FiDi outpost, appropriately enough, is more of an in-and-out businessy joint. —Andrew Dalton
1890 Bryant St (at Mariposa), 101 Montgomery (at Bush)
Owner Amanda Michael set out to create a cozy cafe in Lower Pac Heights a couple years back and, naming it for her daughter, she created this much adored jewelbox of a spot. Serving Stumptown Coffee and a modest selection of breakfast and lunch items (pastries, egg sandwiches, lots of salads, vegan soups, paninis, and a swell tuna melt), she's already built a following and recently opened a second location on Larkin in the Tenderloin. — Jay Barmann
2123 Fillmore Street and 925 Larkin Street
Yes, Ritual is kind of the epitome, the OG if you will, of wi-fi-enabled, needlessly serious, third-wave coffee emporia that now dot our landscape. It's part serious coffee shop, part Mission clubhouse, and part ersatz office for a legion of work-at-home designers, academics, and programmers of various sorts who tend to pack the place by 9 a.m., jostle for spots near the handful of wall sockets, and never leave. But the coffee is good. And the people who serve it are often cute. — Jay Barmann
1026 Valencia Street
Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
One of the first places in the city if not the nation to serve a proper espresso, this awesomely old-school corner cafe in North Beach is one of the proud and beloved landmarks of its formerly heavily Italian neighborhood. Mario's is where you stop in on a sunny afternoon after lounging in Washington Square for a double shot of espresso and maybe a glass of vermouth on the rocks. But the stars of the show here, honestly, are the heavenly paninis, made with focaccia from the famed Liguria Bakery across the square (this is one of the only restaurants in town that can boast serving that bread). Order the meatball one. You will not be mad at it. — Jay Barmann
566 Columbus Avenue at Union
Haus Coffee, for those days when the scene at Coffee Bar is too much.
Atlas Cafe, for being the anchor of the 20th Street renaissance.
Mojo Bicycle Cafe, for when you need a vaguely french place and also the tires on your bike are a little low.
Black Point Cafe, for the views and those rare occasions when you find yourself in Ghirardelli Square.