San Francisco’s Best Coffee Shops by top Local Heroes

The Mill by Jill

I love The Mill for the people watching, stunning setting, and of course, the incredible toast! The scene is always bright and bustling – and the smell of coffee and freshly baked bread will keep you there longer than you intended…

Steep Brew by Kevin

I love steep brew because they have the best bartenders, microbrews and iced coffee. If you have kids you’ll have to try this place. Super kid friendly with high chairs, room for strollers and lots of delicious food. If you don’t have kids, my wife likes Front for a real taste of “Portlandia.”

Jane by Brian

I love Jane on Fillmore because it is a very comfortable place to enjoy a great coffee beverage made by their specialists. It’s no chain like Starbucks or Peets. They have fantastic pastries and breakfast foods.

Four Barrel by Mike

Four Barrel has the ambiance, the attitude, and the coffee to back it all up to rate as one of the best cafe’s in San Francisco. Upon entering you immediately check your coolness level with the Outdoor bike hangers to the kitch wood on wood decor. Looking up, four wild boar heads oversee the order line as if to dare you to get things wrong. “Cappuccino…with or without home brewed chocolate bars”. Now mind you, I’m a coffee, cream and sugar guy. This has to be the first time I sipped this delicate deep aromatic drink without the addition of anything…not even the chocolate version. So for L.A. attitude, San Francisco tattoos, and a woodsy fun to see and be seen spot…head on over to Four Barrel.

Blue Bottle 1photo 2Blue Bottle by Nate

Blue bottle is great coffee, every cup is made to order with great care. The capuccino from blue bottle is amazing, but the real gold star on the menu is the affogato; a fresh shot of espresso poured over a bowl of honey flavored ice cream. They also have great brunch food which shouldnot be overlooked!

DSC03635Coffee BarCoffee Bar by Anne

I love this place because I love chocolate and coffee and can choose between two local chocolate producers — Guittard and Recchiuti — for my caffe mocha. They also have a grab and go coffee for $2.00 if you’re in a hurry. Finally, I don’t really like pastries, but the Kouign Amann by Starter Bakery in Oakland, is not to be missed.

MA-VelousMA•Velous by Jason

As an aussie I am very particular about my espresso, the team at MA get it right every time and they are always happy. Perfect spot for a quick catch up or meeting.

IMG_3852Maybe @ SightGlassSight Glass by Eugene

It’s one of my favorite for ambiance (modern and clean), but definitely my favorite coffee. As a surgeon I have to put quality of work first and Sight Glass takes the cake. You walk in and to the left there are bikes hanging from the wall…I recommend not hanging your dog, but some folks tie leashes to the bike hangers. On the right there is a massive coffee roaster, a real treat when its running. The staff are great and all very passionate about their craft. One of the investors is Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter and Square. Go here and let me know how you like it on Nomaders. I’ll let you in on a little local secret…before you order, go upstairs…it’s not just people working.

Contraband by Abby

I can’t decide what I like more about Contraband- the coffee or the empanadas. The staff is friendly, there is always plenty of seating, and great tunes playing! Oh, did I mention the empanadas rock

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 8.32.03 AMRitual Coffee Roasters by Anne @anne_elizabeth

Ritual’s flagship location is in one of my favorite areas of SF, on Valencia St. in the Mission. It’s obvious from one sip that they are masters of the art of coffee – the flavor is sweet, rich, and possibly life-changing. I particularly love their cold brew over ice on a hot day! I also have a thing for the macadamia almond latte at Saint Frank.

Trouble Coffee by Wes

The absolute best thing about Trouble Coffee in the Outer Sunset is the sheer simplicity of it. Very small, phenomenal coffee, out of this world cinnamon and sugar toast, and friendly service! Having a cool place to sit on the street and look at the ocean doesn’t hurt either. Totally recommend starting your adventure in the Sunset at Trouble!

photo 3photo 2Coffee Cultures by Paul

Simple Financial District gem surrounded by every chain in the country. I feel bad for the tourists and suburban business folks who find comfort in the familiar as I sit in Coffee Cultures window or out side on those rarely warm days drinking a truly well balance cappuccino. You might also go for the raspberry muffin…trust me! Here you will find a healthy mix of entrepreneurs because just upstairs is one of San Francisco’s leading Technology Campus’s – Rocket Space.

Reveille Coffee by Hidemi

Excellent coffee CHECK. Killer space with outdoor seating CHECK. Kale salad CHECK. Get the Kale Salad!

Honorable mention to Philz. Philz is one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever have, but this post is more about espresso machines…plus we don’t have a Local Hero for you Phil :(

Watch Out for the POPO(S)!

photo 3 (2)Have you ever heard of POPOS? I hadn’t either until our Local Hero, Anne, took me to one for our first meeting. P.O.P.O.S = Privately Owned Public Open Spaces. “1985 Downtown Plan [San Francisco] created the first systemic requirements for developers to provide publicly accessible open space as a part of projects in C-3 Districts. The goal was to “provide in the downtown quality open space in sufficient quantity and variety to meet the needs of downtown workers, residents and visitors.” - SF Planning Department 

Many of these buildings don’t want to sacrifice the space for this; which, is great for us, because it means that they get clever…many POPOS are absolutely beautiful rooftops that most locals don’t even know exist. I took a fellow Local Hero, Sofia, to check out a few of my favorites. Contact either of these Local Heroes if visiting San Francisco!

Warning: You won’t find any locals here!

It was your typical foggy Wednesday evening in San Francisco; the mist creeping in slowly, as we stood in line amidst a group of foreign accents. A few of us Local Heroes had found an international bar crawl through one of the hostels in the city and decided to be tourists for a night. Imagining a mix of locals and travelers, we were excited for what the evening had in store for us.

We arrived to the North Beach bar Northstar and were immediately welcomed by a woman eager to get our $5 and a stamp on our hands as if we were ranch cattle being branded for the keeping. We were also given a piece of pink construction paper with instructions for a ‘rock-paper-scissors’ game that I would regretfully take part in.

I was immediately reminded of my study abroad experience in Spain. The first few days of my program we would be forced to participate in ‘ice-breaker’ games that were part embarrassing and part comical. I always wondered if they secretly hoped we would bond over our shared humility. Well, it worked.

And it seemed to have work at the North Beach hostel bar crawl, too. We met many young backpackers and travelers visiting San Francisco. The most obvious observations were that there were very few females and that we were the only people in the entire bar living in the Bay Area. Warning: The only girls in this photo are Local Heroes.

If you have ever been on a hostel pub crawl, you know the exact experience I’m talking about. It’s pretty much the same experience you would have in any city in the world, not unique to San Francisco culture. For the Local Heroes of SF, it was awesome to meet travelers and guide them to less touristy areas; really, you won’t find any locals frequenting fisherman’s wharf. But as a traveler looking to connect with locals, you’ve come to the wrong place. There weren’t even locals at the dive bar!

So let’s get real dear travelers: Do you want to spend your time bonding over a game of rock-paper-scissors?

If your answer is no, come check out our Local Heroes Happy Hour. There will be actual San Francisco locals with real advice on what to do while you are traveling in the Bay Area and beyond.

Magical Days in San Francisco with Local Heroes

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I met Paul for the first time when I was sitting at a coffee shop in San Francisco thinking of what to eat for dinner. I was hesitating to ask somebody for a recommendation when Paul randomly started telling some Asian guys sitting next to me about ‘Nomaders‘ …I, of course, joined their conversation. “That’s the app what I was looking for!!!,” I said; and the rest of my trip changed drastically. Processed with VSCOcamPaul suggested I visit Palo Alto, which was perfect because I always wanted to see Stanford University and I didn’t have any plans. I met Paul at the train station in Palo Alto and he asked if I wanted to join him for lunch. “Of course!” We went to a gorgeous pizza restaurant; and after, Paul trusted me to borrow a bicycle so that I could explore Stanford. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcamThe University is amazingly beautiful! I relaxed on the main quad and enjoyed the sunshine; which, is hard to find in San Francisco. (The climate in the city is surprisingly cold and cloudy.) I went back to town to return the bike and Paul invited me to join him for wine at a local wine bar – The Wine Room. Processed with VSCOcamPaul seemed to know every person in town! He introduced me to his friends and we talked about each other’s culture (especially drinking culture and “small talk” culture – we don’t have “small talk” in Korea). I had sooooooooo much fun I didn’t realize how much time had already passed. (I took the second to the last train back to San Francisco.) Paul also introduced me other Local Heroes from the Nomaders for the rest of my trip. Anne for coffee, Tina for Napa (so sad that I couldn’t make it to Napa), and Mason for nightlife! All of them kindly gave me valuable information. They made my vacation so special! I met Paul and Mason on my last night in San Francisco. This time they introduced me a VERY local bar and then a Latin Bar! I met a lot of people there, practiced “small talk”, and I really enjoyed the experience. Everything I did with them was new to me and it was absolutely terrific! Who would’ve imagined that I could have all these special experiences in San Francisco?! All of this happened thanks to the Local Heroes. It left such an impression I decided to be the first Korean Local Hero, so that I can give a little joy to the visitors who come to Korea. Anybody planning to visit Korea, please find me on Nomaders!Processed with VSCOcam


로컬 히어로들과 함께한 마법 같은 시간

Paul과 처음 만난 날, 나는 샌프란시스코의 한 커피숍에 앉아 오늘 저녁은 어디에서 먹을까를 궁리하던 중이었다. (사실 누구한테 물어보면 추천을 잘 해줄까 고민하던 중이었음) 맨 처음 Paul은 내 옆에 앉아있던 동양 남자애들에게 ‘Nomaders’라는 어플에 대해 소개를 해주고 있었다. 옆에서 가만히 듣고 있자니 ‘아니, 이것은 나를 위한 앱이잖아?!’라는 생각이 들었고, 나도 모르게 그들의 대화에 참여하게 되었다. 그리고 한국에서는 찾아볼 수 없는 문화인 “Small Talk”로부터 나와 샌프란시스코의 로컬 히어로들과의 만남이 시작되었다. Paul은 나에게 팔로알토 방문을 추천해주었다. 마침 다음 날 특별한 계획이 없었고, 스탠포드 대학교도 꼭 한번 구경해보고 싶었기 때문에 나는 칼트레인을 타고 팔로알토로 향했다. Paul과 만나 분위기 좋은 피자 레스토랑에서 점심을 먹고, 그가 빌려준 자전거를 타고 스탠포드 대학교 캠퍼스 탐방에 나섰다. 스탠포드 대학교 캠퍼스는 정말 아름다웠고, Main Quad에 누워서 온몸으로 팔로알토의 따뜻한 햇살을 느낀 뒤 타운으로 돌아갔다. 다시 Paul을 만나서 와인을 한잔 기울이며 이런저런 이야기를 나누었고, 그의 친구들도 소개를 받으며 즐거운 술자리를 가졌다. 그는 동네의 모든 사람들을 다 아는 듯 보였다! 얼마나 마셨을까, 기분 좋게 마시다 보니 취하지도 않는다. 밤 10시 반이 되어서야 샌프란시스코 행 기차에 올랐다. Paul은 본인 이외에도 샌프란시스코의 많은 로컬 히어로들을 소개해주었다. 덕분에 Anne에게는 커피 추천을, Tina에게는 나파밸리에 관한 고급 정보를(결국 나파는 시간이 없어 가지 못했지만), Mason에게는 마지막 날 밤을 즐길 수 있는 곳을 추천 받을 수 있었다. 샌프란시스코에서 보내는 마지막 밤을 나는 다시 Paul, Mason과 함께 보내게 되었다. 관광지의 향이 전혀 없는, 로컬들이 가득한 바에서 small talk를 안주삼아 잊을 수 없는 즐거운 밤을 보내며 나의 화려했던 휴가를 마무리지을 수 있었다. 이번 여행에서 이렇게 많은 로컬 히어로들로부터 도움을 받았고, 그들 덕분에 마법 같은 시간을 보냈으니, 나도 서울에 돌아가면 서울의, 대한민국의 첫번째 로컬 히어로가 되어야겠다고 다짐했다.

Outer Sunset…it’s horrible…leave it for the locals!

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photo 1 (1)When I think of the Sunset I think too far, always cold, and always foggy.  Here is a picture of me being proven wrong.

The picture sums up the extent of my common misconception but allow me continue anyway. Wes, the guy with the hat, is the manager of a Palo Alto bar called Nola (Nola happens to have the largest collection of folk art west of the Mississippi, but that’s a story for another time).  He  and I became friendly, but it wasn’t until months later when we leveraged Mark Zuckerberg’s company that we discovered we went to school together at Indian Mountain School when we were much younger. Wes wanted to become a Nomaders Local Hero and invited me up to his neighborhood to show me the “real” Sunset district of San Francisco.
I’ve put together a little phototour for you, but nothing beats getting in touch with Wes or another local hero yourself…let us know what you discover!
To start your day in the Sunset off right, Wes recommends stopping by Java Beach for a killer breakfast sandwich and then having coffee perched at Trouble Coffee (although if you aren’t in a sandwich mood, we’ve heard Trouble’s toast  is actually phenomenal)
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Java Beach

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Trouble Coffee

Outerlands is famous for their brunch (and the long line you’ll have to wait in to get a table for it) but is wonderful for cocktails or food any time of day!

Places are made by people –

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