The 15 Best Coffee Shops in the San Francisco Bay Area

 January 13, 2021

If you’ve spent any length of time on my blog (or Instagram!) then you probably know by now that I am obsessed with coffee. Coffee RUNS my life, and allows me to run a household of three rambunctious boys (sorry Greg, that includes you!), my business, and, most recently, has helped me get through the process of writing my book!

And in case you haven’t heard the news, yes, I’M WRITING A COOKBOOK!!! I am so excited. As of the time of this writing, the entire book is finished, and this week, I’ve been hard at work photographing all 70+ recipes with my amazing team. I’ll share more details over on my Instagram story, but it’s currently slated for publication next Fall, 2022, from Tenspeed Press. This book has truly been a labor of love, and I cannot wait to share it with you all.

But back to what this post is really about – Coffee. Over the years of building my business, raising my boys, and yes, writing my book, I’ve had the self-imposed task of checking out all of the coffee shops across the Bay Area. Okay, well, maybe not every single one. But point being, I’ve spent my time inside of a lot of them, so I figured it was time to create a roundup of the best of the best!

What Makes a Good Coffee Shop

To me, a good coffee shop needs to meet a few requirements. First, it needs to have good coffee! I’m not talking about just re-distributing Starbucks coffee (which isn’t a bad thing, but isn’t the BEST thing, either), but good, particularly house-made coffee.

Next, it needs to have good treats. Whether that’s an avocado toast or a yummy (hopefully dairy-free or gluten-free) pastry, I have to be able to grab a quick bite to eat!

And finally, we want to consider other important factors. Is it walkable? Does it have multiple locations? Does it get really crowded on the weekends? Does it have a good ambiance?

All of these factors have gone into compiling this list. Call me a coffee snob, but I only want to share the best with you!

No. 1 – The Mill (San Francisco)

Location(s): 736 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

What to Order: Whichever way you order your coffee, you can’t go wrong. Just make sure that you get a toast on the side. My favorite is the avocado toast, but their ricotta and jam combo also can’t be beat.

If you’ve ever seen your favorite San Francisco food blogger post a photo of a gorgeous, thick piece of toast alongside a perfect latte, chances are, it was from The Mill. This is a classic San Francisco spot; situated on the edge of the Lower Haight, this is one of the best cafes in the city.

They serve up coffee from Four Barrel, a popular San Francisco institution that is absolutely delicious. But as I said, their toasts are out of this WORLD. That’s because the bread is baked in-house, by the fabulous Josey Baker Bread. While you’re there, you might as well pick up a loaf to take home, because it’s too good to pass up. And if you’re gluten-free, no worries; their “Adventure Bread” is totally gluten-free!

No. 2 – Timeless Coffee (Oakland, Berkeley)

Location(s): 4252 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA  – 2965 College Ave, Berkeley, CA – 1700 Webster St, Oakland, CA 

What to Order: Their lattes truly can’t be beat, and the best part is, the milk alternatives are free! And don’t skip out on their pastries; their pesto and pizza buns are delicious, and be sure to go on the weekend for their handmade croissants.

If you are vegan, then you NEED to go here as soon as possible. Timeless Coffee is a completely vegan coffee shop, and let me tel you, even as a non-vegan, you would never know. When you walk in, you’re met with an array of fresh pastries, and the most beautifully decorated cakes. Trust me when I say that you’ll want one of everything; it’s way too good!

And let’s not forget about their coffee. They blend their own coffee, and all of their blends are SO GOOD. I’d go as far as to say that it’s some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. Be sure to pick up a bag on your way home or grab a few cans of their cold brew (it’s strong and delicious!) 

No. 3 – Wrecking Ball Coffee (San Francisco, Berkeley)

Location(s): 2271 Union Street San Francisco, CA – 1600 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA

What to Order: Get a vanilla latte, or any latte, for that matter. Their coffee is smooth and creamy, and makes for the perfect mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up. 

Nestled in Cow Hollow, right at the end of Union Street, is Wrecking Ball Coffee. It’s a tiny little shop, and at a quick glance, you might miss it. But don’t be fooled by their size – not only is their double-story location across the Bay Bridge much bigger, but  their coffee packs a punch. In fact, I’d say that Wrecking Ball’s vanilla latte is the best in the Bay Area. True story.

And don’t forget about the pastries; if you’re craving something sweet, their San Francisco cafe often has fresh donuts. They’re absolutely delicious, and the salted caramel donut is to die for. Just be sure to go early enough, or they may sell out!

No. 4 – Saint Frank Coffee (San Francisco, Menlo Park)

Location(s): 2340 Polk St. San Francisco, CA – 1018 Alma St. Menlo Park, CA

What to Order: Their seasonal lattes are incredible, and often come in a variety of interesting flavors (like honey lavender, and orange vanilla!) Also, their house-made almond macadamia milk is rich, creamy, and the perfect finishing touch to any drink!

No matter what time of day it is, Saint Frank will be packed – and for a good reason. Their beautiful cafe on the corner of Polk St. is full of vibrant, fresh coffee, unique flavors, and a delightfully-minimalist interior. Come for the coffee, stay for the ambiance, ya know?

Plus, they serve a variety of pastries from none other than the classic San Francisco institution, Craftsman and Wolves. Have you ever seen that Instagram-famous savory muffin with the scotch egg inside? YEP, you can get that here! 

No. 5 – Highwire Coffee (Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Albany)

Location(s):5655 College Ave Oakland, CA – 2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley CA – 1330 Solano Avenue, Albany CA – 2059 Mountain Blvd, Oakland, CA – 1234 Park Street, Alameda, CA

What to Order: You can’t go wrong with a classic latte, or if you’re not feeling coffee, go for the chai!

Highwire Coffee is an East Bay staple, particularly because they have so many locations! While I don’t venture out to the East Bay too often, when I find myself near a Highwire Coffee, I’m all in. With so many custom coffee blends, you know that they’re going to be delicious. A classic latte with almond milk is my go-to, here!

Plus, I can’t say no to their pastry case, which is filled with goodies from Craftsman and Wolves, and another (new) Bay Area institution, Third Culture. It’s just too good to pass up!

No. 6 – Andytown Coffee (San Francisco)

Location(s): 3655 Lawton St. San Francisco, CA – 3629 Taraval St. San Francisco – 181 Fremont St. San Francisco

What to Order: Two words: Snowy. Plover. If you haven’t tried it, it is a MUST. After all, it went viral for a reason.

Andytown started as a small cafe in the Outer Sunset, right on the edge of San Francisco, but has quickly expanded across the city thanks to the hype surrounding one of their signature drinks: the Snowy Plover. This concoction consists of espresso and soda water mixed together and topped with heaps of their house-made whipped cream. It’s every bit as delicious as it sounds, and this time of year, you can also get a pumpkin spice snowy plover!

Plus, they also offer an abundance of unique pastries, from their house-made soda bread to corn muffins and their soda-currant scones. Don’t knock them before you try them; they’re one of the most unique yet delicious coffee shops in San Francisco!

No. 7 – Souvenir Coffee (Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco)

Location(s): 917 Washington St. Oakland, CA – 3084 Claremont Ave. Berkeley, CA – 1114 Solano Ave. Albany, CA – 262 Divisadero St. San Francisco

What to Order: A latte with one of their housemate syrups? It’s too good to be true.

What started out as a small cafe nestled upon Claremont Ave. in Berkeley has expanded across the Bay, bringing delicious coffee to the other side of the bridge as well. Their Tiffany-Blue exterior welcomes you immediately with the smell of fresh coffee and yummy hot sandwiches. It’s a cozy place to work, or treat yourself to a yummy breakfast!

My favorite part about Souvenir is the fact that they make all of their own syrups. From vanilla to chocolate to caramel to even honey lavender, their syrups are free of any funky ingredients and make for the perfect sweet addition to your coffee. 

No. 8 – Blue Bottle Coffee (Bay Area + Beyond)

Location(s): 20+ in the Bay Area alone

What to Order: The New Orleans Iced Coffee is a Blue Bottle classic. And if you come during the fall, you must get the pumpkin chocolate chip pound cake. It’s vegan, too!

When I think about the quintessential $7 latte, my mind automatically goes to Blue Bottle. They were truly one of the first “fine coffee” institutions, and have certainly made their mark on the Bay Area. With over 20 locations and counting, they are convenient and reliable, albeit a bit pricy.

But, their coffee is worth the price you pay. I can honestly say that of all the times that I’ve been to Blue Bottle (and there’s been a lot), I’ve never had a bad experience there. Their coffee is always delicious and perfectly brewed, and their pastries never disappoint. Plus, they also offer at least one or two vegan and/or gluten-free friendly options! In the Fall, my favorite treat they offer is their pumpkin chocolate chip poundcake, which is one of their vegan-friendly treats, and is just too good.

While Blue Bottle isn’t just a Bay Area institution by any means, I wanted to include it on this list because 1. they have a ton of Bay Area locations, and 2. I wanted to included an option that my non-Bay Area friends can also enjoy! With locations across the country, and even in Japan, China, and South Korea, Blue Bottle is truly a global coffee powerhouse, and it lives up to it!

No. 9 – Equator Coffee (San Francisco)

Location(s): 10+ Locations Across the Bay Area

What to Order: A vanilla latte or their signature cold brew is my go-to here!

If you want a no-frills (or, rather, low-frills) cafe that always delivers, then look no further than Equator. With so many locations across the Bay Area, they are a reliable go-to spot for me. I know that almost anywhere I am, I can find an Equator Coffee, and it’s a much better option than succumbing to the local Starbucks.

Their menu is fairly simple, and their food options may be more slim, but again, it’s fast, reliable, and consistent. Plus, their house blend coffees are pretty darn good! If I’m feeling an iced coffee, then I love going for their cold brew. But if I’m in the mood for something warm, then a vanilla latte it is.

They also sell their cold brew in cans at their cafe, or at Bay Area Whole Foods locations, which is perfect for getting that coffee fix in a pinch! 

No. 10 – Cafe Reveille (Berkeley, San Francisco)

Location(s): 1998 Polk St. San Francisco, CA – 610 Long Bridge St. San Francisco, CA – 201 Steiner St. San Francisco, CA – 760 Hearst Ave. Berkeley, CA

What to Order: A latte is a must, and if you’re feeling hungry, get the breakfast bowl. It may look simple, but it’s absolutely delicious, and you can also get it with two poached eggs!

If you were a part of the San Francisco blogger scene in 2016, then you likely have seen Cafe Reveille. This quaint little cafe began with their Russian Hill location, and featured a crisp white interior decorated with millennial pink tables. When I say that people would line up just to take coffee photos at these tables, it’s true. This was THE place to be!

And while the hype surrounding Cafe Reveille may have slowed down a bit, it’s still as delicious as ever. Their house-blend coffee is absolutely delicious, and their matcha is pretty darn good, too. But to me one of the best things about Cafe Reveille is their food.

Their dishes are simple, and their menu rarely changes, but each dish is SO good. From their turmeric sandwich to their açaí bowls and even their Halloumi salad, I’ve yet to try something that wasn’t absolutely delicious. However their best item has to be, hands down, the Breakfast Bowl. This is a seemingly simple bowl of quinoa and lentils, loaded with a plethora of veggies, avocado, and a green tahini sauce. It’s SO good. It’s a little spicy, super well-seasoned, and for some reason just cannot be recreated the same way (trust me, I’ve tried). If you want some added protein, you can also add poached eggs to it.

No. 11 – Sightglass Coffee (San Francisco)

Location(s): 270 7th St. San Francisco – 3014 20th St. San Francisco – 301 Divisadero St. San Francisco 

What to Order: You can’t go wrong with a classic vanilla latte, and Sightglass makes their vanilla in-house. It blends beautifully with their rich, bold coffee, for an absolutely irresistible cup.

Sightglass Coffee is a San Francisco institution. With three shops across the city, you can walk around any corner of San Francisco and find someone with a cup of Sightglass Coffee in-hand. Their shops are simple and no-frills. Their 7th st. shop (pictured above) is particularly industrial, equipped with a large coffee mill right in the center of it.

Plus, in many small shops across the Bay Area (and beyond!) you will find their bagged coffee for sale. It’s a staple in many households, including mine, because it truly is some of the best!

This is the perfect shop to go to for a quick, quality cup of coffee, and delicious house-made pastries. If you’re looking for a great spot to grab coffee and maybe get some work done too, I highly recommend one of Sightglass’ shops.

No. 12 – Verve Coffee (San Francisco, Palo Alto)

Location(s): 2101 Market St. San Francisco – 162 University Ave. Palo Alto

What to Order: If you’re lucky enough to stop by Verve during the holidays, their “Peppermint Mocha Bowl of Soul” is truly the best holiday drink you can get. It’s their version of a peppermint mocha, but the peppermint comes from an organic peppermint tea. It’s a unique combination that is perfectly festive. And, not to mention, totally delicious.

Verve Coffee has two Bay Area locations, but is actually a staple outside of the Bay. With over 5 locations in Santa Cruz county, as well as in Los Angeles and Japan, Verve has proved itself to be a coffee institution in California and beyond. And, their innovation proves it.

Their signature “Bowl of Soul” drink is a unique blend of both coffee and tea, swirled together into a subtly-sweet concoction. It’s something I’ve never seen before, and the taste is out of this world.

And let’s not forget their amazing food offerings, aka their avocado toast. It’s slathered with butter, then topped with tons of diced avocado, radishes, pickled onions, and scallions, and you can add-on an egg if you’re feeling frisky. It’s seriously delicious, and my only complaint is that I didn’t order two!

Their Palo Alto shop is also perfectly situated amongst tons of other shops and restaurants around University Ave., just a few miles away from Stanford University. This shop is the perfect ambiance for an evening study sesh, or anytime that you want to find your focus amongst a good cup of coffee!

No. 13 – Signal Coffee (Alameda)

Location(s): 1536 Webster St, Alameda

What to Order: A vanilla latte or a minty mocha (aka – a peppermint mocha) are both of my go-to picks here. But with their house-brewed coffee, you can’t go wrong with any drink. I highly recommend coming here for great coffee in a beautiful ambiance!

Signal Coffee is a new shop on the block – having just opened in October, and as the first shop of its kind, it’s got a lot to prove. However, in just a few months, they’ve managed to prove themselves in the East Bay community with their amazingly smooth house-blended coffee and assortment of unique pastry treats, ranging from kouign amanns, empanadas, and a new Bay Area classic: Boichik Bagels.

When you walk into the shop, you’re greeted with a light, bright cafe setting adorned with wallpaper that’s decorated with illustrations of different coffee tools. After you order, head to the back of the shop, and you’ll find a quaint, quiet patio with a fountain and tons of vibrant foliage. It’s a beautiful setting to have a cup of coffee, read a book, or simply get together with friends.

No. 14 – States Coffee & Bread (Oakland, Berkeley, Benicia, Martinez)

Location(s): 609 Ward St. Martinez – 700 First St. Benicia – 2101 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley – 419 40th St. Oakland – 4008 Martin Luther King Jr. Way Oakland

What to Order: As their name suggests, their house made bread is the real star here. They have plenty of different loaves to take home, from country to sourdough and options in-between. And if a whole loaf isn’t your style, a slice of toast is the perfect accompaniment to your cup of coffee.

States Coffee and Bread really excels are two things, as their name suggests: coffee and bread. Well, toast, but their bread loaves are amazing as well. Of course, it’s the cornerstone of their cafe, and truly lives up to the namesake. Their coffee too is a house blend, and is branded in their sleek black bags. When I went in, the baristas were all competing to see who could make the best latte art, and I have to say, they did an excellent job.

And let’s not forget about the toast. This avocado toast was bursting with avocado atop a thick, spongy, yet perfectly crisp piece of country bread. It’s then topped with olive oil, salt and pepper, chili powder, sesame seeds, and tangy feta cheese. It’s a unique combination that is absolutely delicious, and is an explosion of flavors in your mouth.

They have so many locations across the Bay Area, and while they’ve yet to make the trek over to The City (aka San Francisco), they’re absolutely worth the trip over the Bay Bridge to the East Bay. I cannot recommend States enough, and it made me happy to see that so many of you recommended it, too!

No. 15 – Trouble Coffee (San Francisco)

Location(s): 4033 Judah St. San Francisco

What to Order: One of their signature drinks, “The Girlfriend,” is the perfect blend of rich coffee, earl grey tea, honey, and milk, for a creamy, slightly-nutty flavor that’s certainly unique.

Trouble Coffee is a not-so-secret Bay Area coffee spot. It’s out-of-the-way from the downtown hub (their one location is all the way in the Outer Sunset), and is one of those local spots that is kept mostly to locals. But now, you all know about it, which is great, since Trouble is amazing!

It’s easy to miss Trouble at first – their tiny shop is the definition of a “hole in the wall”. But step inside, and you’ll be greeted with messages that look like they’re hand-scrawled onto the building in white chalk. They have a strict no-camera policy in the shop, so don’t expect to photograph anything you see. Instead, read the stories and soak in the punk-rock atmosphere. Their coffee is worth the trek!

And just look at that thick piece of avocado toast. It’s the fluffiest, moistest avocado toast in the Bay Area. And if you don’t like avocado, then you have to try their house-made almond butter and jam. It is SO damn good.

If you decide to try out any of these coffee shops, be sure to let me know! Tag me in a post or a story on Instagram so we can enjoy a virtual coffee date, together! xx


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