Gettin’ Buzzy: Bay Area Coffee Shop Round-Up

I didn’t really care about coffee before moving to California. My choices in Connecticut were mostly limited to Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, and my drink of choice was usually something iced or a seasonal beverage…and let’s face it, I’m still a whore for a good PSL.

Moving to the Bay Area opened up an entire universe of espresso and pour-over and cold brewand most recently, matcha. I was inspired to dig into this list because Husband and I recently attended the second-annual SF Coffee Festival, which got me thinking about all of the places I love. My criteria has evolved over time, but my favorites include ambiance, quality food items, and uniquely well-executed drinks.

So without further adieu, here are my picks:

Red Berry Coffee Bar, Los Altos

Husband found Red Berry upon first moving to Mountain View, and it’s been a favorite ever since. They rotate through three, mostly-local roasters at a time and craft solid lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and so on. They also have ample seating on two levels and free Wifi, which is kind of a luxury in the Bay Area. Red Berry also kills it in the breakfast game — favorites include their quiche and the pecan waffle.

Expert latte art by the Red Berry baristas. Photo Credit: Matt Tarca

Sue’s Gallery Cafe, Saratoga

This place fits perfectly into the peaceful charm of downtown Saratoga. You can sip your bevvy out of Sue’s beautiful handmade ceramics, which you can procure at the gallery next door to the coffee shop. They also have some absurd baked goods from local bakeries, like this sexy strawberry danish. I’ll definitely be back for more hell-yeah pastries, the quaint outdoor seating and another matcha latte!

Not pictured: the equally delicious savory pastry I downed before this.

Boutique Coffee, San Mateo

This little guy recently opened in downtown San Mateo. It’s tiny, but it’s worth ducking into for the expert hands behind the bar. They serve Matchaful matcha and a variety of high-quality coffees, like Saint Frank, as well as delicious pastries from SF’s Kahnfections. I recently accompanied my green latte with this mind-blowing ham and cheese croissant. UPDATE: Boutique Coffee closed in 2019.

Upon finishing this, my face was covered in flakes and grease. WORTH IT.

Provender Coffee, Potrero Hill, San Francisco

This was our go-to neighborhood spot for the two years we lived in Potrero. It’s adorably wee, and they have what I would argue is the best avocado toast in the city — Tartine country sourdough, garlic aioli, crispy garlic, cilantro, black sesame seeds, and EVOO. They make their other baked goods in-house, and they dole out a maple cold brew that is equal parts sweet and smoky. UPDATE: Provender Coffee closed in 2020.

Yes, this toast is $10. Just don’t think about that.

Mazarine, Mid-Market, San Francisco

Mazarine is a bright spot in an otherwise blighted area of SF. They’re pretty much always busy, and IMHO there’s one reason for that: toast. Ohhh, the toast. Put aside your prejudices against bougie toast and go get any of the ones Mazarine is cranking out. Served on gargantuan slabs of pain de mie, they’re all good. The avocado toast with watermelon radish, chives, and goat cheese is a masterpiece, and so is the roasted tomato toast with pesto, Parm, and bread crumbs. The coffee and matcha drinks aren’t half bad, either.

Three of Mazarine’s epic toasts.

Andytown Coffee Roasters, Outer Sunset, San Francisco

I could probably write an entire post/love letter about Andytown. It was one of the first coffee places Husband and I ventured to when we moved to San Francisco, and we love it so much that we’ll drive there from Half Moon Bay when the mood strikes. The original location on Lawton is a few blocks from Ocean Beach, and their roastery/training lab and second cafe are close by. Head to Lawton to get the full spectrum of house-made deliciousness, like giant corn muffins with seasonal fruit and a sous-vide egg breakfast sandwich.

Andytown is known for the Snowy Plover, a strange-but-wonderful iced drink with espresso, brown sugar simple syrup, seltzer, and a swath of whipped cream with butter-like thickness. Occasionally they shake things up with seasonal versions (like pumpkin or peppermint), and they often host weekend pop-ups with local bakers or ice cream makers. I can also always get a matcha latte here 🙂

When your whipped cream wins.

Home Cafe, Outer Richmond, San Francisco

Home is a sweet, happy cafe.  You can order something off the classic menu, but you should really work your way through the creative one. Home makes such wonders as the red velvet latte and the rainbow-colored birthday cake latte. On the food side, you can get a standard savory toast like tomato, truffle oil, and pesto. Or you can go rogue with one of their whimsical specials. Like this one, with its questionably viscous, translucent substance. Ok, it’s just condensed milk…hauling myself out of the gutter.

There’s a final line between lunacy and deliciousness.
…because life’s too short for non-adorable latte art.

Sightglass, Soma, San Francisco

Sightglass is a veritable coffee empire in SF. My favorite location is the one on Seventh Street because of the lofted second floor. They’re an anti-Wifi group, but it’s worth it to sit up there and look down on the comings-and-goings from on high. When I was subjecting myself to the detrimental effects of coffee-caffeine, I loved the vanilla bean cold brew. You can get a solid pastries here, too, with offerings from local dynamos like Neighbor Bakehouse.

View from the loft level at Sightglass

Stonemill Matcha, Mission, San Francisco

I realize this is not a coffee place, but it deserves a place on my list for both its atmosphere and matcha craft. It’s on bustling Valencia, but it’s so damn zen inside. They source matcha straight from Kyoto and they’ve curated a drool-worthy menu of sweet and savory. In addition to matcha any way you want it, you can also indulge in Tartine-crafted baked goods, like this furikake “everything” croissant. Stonemill also gets my love for recently hosting a sidewalk ceramics sale chock full of gorgeous Japanese mugs and plates.

Not to be overlooked — the log of cream cheese nestled inside this bad boy.

Réveille Coffee Co., Castro, San Francisco

These guys have a few locations around SF, but I love the tiny one right off Castro Street. My basic self first discovered them post-Soul Cycle, but it’s worth checking out even if you’re not sweating through your clothes. They’ve got matcha and coffee, of course, but they also make a bomb breakfast sando with a hole-in-one style egg, braised leeks and kale, and Gruyere. Best eaten with a fork and knife. I love sitting at their outside bar, and I also love the dudes who work behind the counter. Anyone who serves me matcha wearing a mesh crop top is a-ok in my book.

Seriously, go get the breakfast sandwich.

Got a favorite place I missed? Message me so I can hit it up!

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