7+7 best cafes in San Francisco

Or how we visited 30 cafes in one week so that you don’t have to.

Here are our 7 top picks, the “must visit” cafes.

Saint Frank

Saint Frank is well worth the cable car ride up to Russian Hill. It’s a gorgeous space with beautiful light oak paneling and tiled counter. Coffees are sourced by the founder Kevin Bohlin and roasted locally by Ritual Roasters. Baristas behind the bar are genuine, engaging and know what they’re doing. Try one of the filter coffees or the Kaffe Tonic — perfect drink for a sunny afternoon.

Saint Frank
2340 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Ritual on Valencia

Ritual Roasters’ recently renovated flagship cafe on the bustling Valencia Street is another gorgeous location. The spacious cafe has a great flow and enough space to move around. Staff are knowledgable and friendly and service stays swift even when it get’s busy. We particularly enjoyed the Ethiopian single origin espresso.

Ritual Mission
1026 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Another great little Ritual can be found on Octavia Street in Hayes Valley, next to Smitten Ice Cream’s popular shop. Ritual’s seasonal offerings are prepared by engaging, proficient and friendly staff. Many local baristas name this one as their favorite Ritual location in the city.

Ritual at Proxy
432b Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Sightglass Mission

The new Sightglass cafe in Mission is easily one the most beautiful and meticulously designed cafes in the world. The daily changing “quick cup” tasted great on both of our visits. Espressos were equally well-crafted by professional staff who unfortunately remained slightly distant during the experience.

Sightglass Mission
3014 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Pro tip: despite its bad reputation the batch brewed “quick cup” is often your best pick in one of these cafes. When brewed correctly using quality coffee and served fresh it offers consistency, speed, great value — and tastes delicious. No wonder many of the world’s best cafes push batch brew on the menu.

Four Barrel on Valencia Street actually houses two coffee bars: the Quick Bar for regular drinks and a separate Slow Bar to sample and savor the full line of Four Barrel’s single origin coffees roasted in the back of the cafe. Genial baristas do their job well and swiftly. Coffee is really good and most coffee pros list Four Barrel on top of their list. We agree — definitely among the best in the city.

Four Barrel
375 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Sightglass SoMa

The original Sightglass location in SoMa is impressive, to say the least. Service is quick, baristas are friendly and knowledgable — and the coffee has improved tremendously since my last visit 1,5 years ago. Batch brewed filter coffee was well-extracted and one of the best cups we enjoyed in SF.

Sightglass SoMa
270 Seventh Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Wrecking Ball is owned by two coffee industry veterans: Nick Cho and Trish Rothgeb. When it comes to coffee, Wrecking Ball is a bit old school — but mostly in a good way. Sit down at the bar, ask for a Kalita brew, sample delicious pastries by Marla Bakery and enjoy the coffee — our Guatemalan was a wonderfully sweet, balanced and complex. Note: Selfies in front of the pineapple wallpaper seem to be a thing here.

Wrecking Ball
2271 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

7 more cafes that worth the visit if you’re nearby.

Front Cafe

On a sunny Saturday morning the locals in Potrero Hill queue for the morning coffee outside of Front Cafe, a sleek little cafe housed in a former loading dock. Baristas are friendly and coffee is tasty — even if the roast was a bit off during our visit.

Front Cafe
150 Mississippi St
San Francisco, CA 94107
Pinhole Coffee

Pinhole Coffee is a lovely neighborhood shop in the heart of Bernal Heights. Both espresso and filter coffee were from Santa Cruz based Verve Coffee. Both were enjoyed.

Pinhole Coffee
231 Cortland Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
Ritual in Flora Grubb Gardens

Venture through the lush Flora Grubb Gardens and in the back you’ll find a small Ritual coffee bar — the third one in the city. Line up, order a drink and wander around the magnificent garden store. On a sunny afternoon a cup of single-origin cold brew might do the trick.

Ritual in Flora Grubb Gardens
1634 Jerrold Ave
San Francisco, CA 94124 www.ritualroasters.com
Paramo Coffee

Hidden inside the brutalist Embarcadero Center is Paramo Coffee, pocket-sized cafe serving the office community and occasional passers-by. Perfect for a quick espresso by the bar or for grabbing a cup of batch brew to go. Service is swift and caring — they’re all about making great coffee accessible.

Paramo Coffee
4 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

Located right opposite to the Twitter HQ, Mavelous is a welcome addition to the Market Street coffee scene. During the day Mavelous operates as a multi-roaster coffee bar and turns into a wine bar towards the sundown. Coffees are supplied by some of the best roasters in North America including Heart from Portland, OR and 49th Parallel in Vancouver.

1408 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Andytown Roasters

Outer Sunset is not exactly known for its coffee scene and we’re glad to see Andytown Roasters to changing this. Lovely little corner space with home-made baked goods and coffees roasted at the back of the shop. Their speciality is called Snowy Plover: espresso topped with sparkling water, simple syrup and whipped cream. Unusual? We would say so. Worth trying? Definitely.

Andytown Coffee Roasters
3655 Lawton
San Francisco, CA 94122

In a weekday afternoon in the heart of Financial District Coffee Cultures is busy serving better coffee to bankers and other workers from nearby offices. Coffee is supplied by North Carolina based Counter Culture Coffee, a long-time speciality coffee pioneers in the US. While it might not be the most exciting shop in SF we’d be tremendously happy to have a shop like Coffee Cultures in the street level of For Better Coffee HQ.

Coffee Cultures
225 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94104

Why should I trust your reviews?

As you can see, both myself and my travel companion Niki (pictured) take this tasting very seriously. Just kidding. We did tour exactly 30 cafes around the Bay Area within one week and these were our favorites.

If you think we’re lacking your favorite shop — tweet me at @kallefreese

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