By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
If you’re not into the culture of look-alike coffee shop chains, San Francisco counter culture is alive and well in its independent coffee bars. Even better, take a seat and stay awhile to absorb the unique vibe of locally-owned spots.
601 Vallejo St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
It was April 1, 1956 when “Papa Gianni” Giotta opened the doors of Caffe Trieste on a light-filled corner of North Beach. It was the first espresso coffee house on the West Coast. April Fool’s Day, yes…but more than 60 successful years later, this establishment was clearly no joke. Decades’ worth of celebrity photos hang on the walls. “Brew each cup like it’s for you” is the old world philosophy that has served the family well from that day forward. The unique formula at the intersection of Vallejo Street and Grant Avenue is a combination of great espresso, a convivial “everybody’s welcome” atmosphere and, on occasion, the family’s signature live music. When placing your order, look beyond tempting biscotti and cannoli to see the Magister Sistema Caffe espresso machine at the heart of the brewing action.
2123 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Always packed (with too many people, frankly), Jane’s on Fillmore has been a destination coffee shop since 2011. When you can’t find a seat at a black-and-white chevron topped table, walk past the custom graffiti mirror and take the 12 steps at the rear (above the wall mounted moose head) that lead to a small upper level seating area overlooking the whole shop. Everything at Jane’s is prepared in-house from scratch and there are plenty of gluten-free bakery items. The coffee is a Stumptown medium dark roast, the cakes and pastries are tasty and fresh, all-day breakfast is a real find. Owner Amanda Michael says healthy eating is all about balance, so a salad and a cookie is A-OK! And did we mention free Wi-Fi? Note that the front tables are kept laptop-free until after 3 p.m.
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Jackson Place Cafe
633 Battery St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
It’s really a kiosk enhanced by the placement of outdoor lounge furniture plus cafe tables and chairs. Perfect for sipping good Italian coffee under the palm trees in a great Financial District location. So, forget the Wi-Fi, although you’ll want to linger here anyway. (Take a pass or get some takeaway when it’s raining.) Tucked away down a brick path, Jackson Place Cafe is a cute and cozy courtyard find for the Monday through Friday grind. Get Sightglass coffee at breakfast or order a lunchtime panini (duck confit, prosciutto, vegetarian) with a fresh fruit salad — all “served with Italian love” from your culinary team, Giovanni and Gino.
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