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Best Coffee in San Francisco

Best Coffee in San Francisco

Cup of Joe, Java, Jamoke, Mud…

Call it what you want, we all know it as coffee and whatever that may be, we all love to enjoy it. Why did coffee become something we do on the run?  Is it the caffeine? After going to Costa Rica and visiting a coffee plantation, I understand all the work that goes into making the perfect coffee bean. I promised myself that I would always take the time to enjoy my cup of joe.

I walk twice a week with a friend Denise Wells through the many neighborhoods of San Francisco, and after our walks, we always stop to enjoy a cup. We look for ambiance, customer service and of course the taste of the coffee. Here is the clincher, I drink decaf! I have for about 22 years. (I think it was the racing, major heart palpitations that sent me over the edge and made me switch) Coffee must be flavorful, full bodied and HOT! I have never understood why we put cold milk in our coffee…I just don’t get it. Another thing that bothers me is the people who say— with attitude— “decaf, why bother?” Well the fact is that decaf coffee can be very flavorful and robust without the caffeine. That’s why it is called decaf, get it, you nincompoop!

I don’t care how good your coffee is supposed to be, if you can’t smile at me when I walk into your establishment and be pleasant, you are going to lose points in my book. And don’t snarl at me because I ask for decaf or non-fat milk or look at me like I should be having a senior coffee at McDonalds. One of my biggest gripes is people who can not multitask while making the various coffees, or they get all fancy with the swirly milk and make designs and take too damn long. I might want to take my time sipping my coffee but I don’t want to wait too long for it either.

Because I drink unleaded, most places will make a decaf Americano for me because they do not have a pot of decaf yet or will make it fresh since I am the first to ask for it.  What that does for me is, guarantees a hot cup of joe, remember, hot is good. Now an Americano is supposed to be made with espresso but many places just use a blend of various coffees. I have to admit that this has given me a range of coffee flavors from very flavorful to non-tasting brown water.  The other thing that is happening is, many places are making the individual cup. I have to give kudos to Philz coffee here because he is the first to have started that, his motto “one cup at a time”.  When I started going there, Phil was making the coffee and he only had the store on 24th and Folsom. He used to put a pinch of cardamom and mint. I’m glad he’s grown and become very successful because he has put a lot of hard work and love into his coffee. Go to his website just to see the video of him explaining his history.

Unfortunately the individually brewed coffee places aside from Philz, Blue Bottle, Four Barrel all charge quite a bit and a cup of coffee is $2.50 – $3.00 and while good and rich tasting can be luke-warm by the time you get them. Also some of these places have major attitude, I don’t care how many piercings or tattoos you have or that you are stoned. All I want is a friendly face and hot coffee. I recently went to the Ritual Kiosk on Octavia, trendy location, nice bright orange background the barista was friendly but plan on waiting for a year to get your coffee and why wet the filter first, and why have two containers pouring the hot water, you are going to know when you reach the top. I can’t imagine being there on a Sunday morning with a ton of people in line. Trendy Schmendy the Battleaxe isn’t waiting too long for her coffee, I don’t care how cute you are.

The winner of my coffee review is Martha and her Brothers. Why you ask? Well let’s start with the fact that they have been around for 24 years. Their coffee has always been consistent and I love their non-fat, decaf café lattes, (I’m told always has two shots). Whenever I’ve traveled, I always love to come home and go there, it’s very comforting. The people who work there, all lovely men and women, very friendly and are the 2nd generation of the families. Martha who is not around as much was always very nice and sweet. My favorite is the Martha’s at Duncan & Church, the women there call me Doña, a respectful term, sometimes other endearments like mija and amor.  Yvonne and all the women are just adorable and lovely and quick too–you do not have to wait more than one minute.  And they get points for always having great music. If I can sip, enjoy and sway my hips, what a way to start the day.

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  • Phil says:

    Dear Eleanor Palacios,
    Thank you so much for the lovely words you wrote about us. You are so right my Dear! Please let me know when you want to bring a group of friends by my shop so I can make you all coffee.
    I love you all!

  • epochalipsnow says:

    We love Philz! I just put a hot link to your site: Thanks for your comment – ED.

  • Beverly says:

    Loved the video and think that next time there should be dancing throughout the entire video. If a cup of Martha and her Brothers coffee will induce me to dance like Eleanor, I’m going there pronto!

  • Vivian Varela says:

    Thanks Eleanor!
    Now I’m gonna plan my next business trip so we can go to Martha’s!!!!! and Philz!