In a city that runs on caffeine and entrepreneurialism, there are endless places to get your daily (let’s be real—hourly) caffeine fix. We’re spilling the espresso beans and giving you a sampling of the city’s two-in-one coffee shops in seven categories that offer so much more than your traditional cup of joe.
1. Elite Audio Systems, Inc. (coffee + music)
Image by Elite Audio FB
“High-end sound, high-end coffee” is the mantra of Elite Audio President and CEO Mike Woods. This speaker system showroom of designer caliber displays sleek electronics with a caffeinated twist. The type in the window reads “Coffee Bar and Boutique Electronics: Hand selected for performance,” a curious combination that intrigues passersby heading to their SoMa start-ups.
Try a new cup of brew like a Gibraltar (mini cappuccino) and Instagram the tricked-out design swirled in the foam by the talented barista. Stylish speaker systems in electric purple and sleek black are showstoppers, teasing audiophiles with “Play Me” signs and hypnotizing with their crystal-clear siren sounds.
Although these electronics are new age in nature, the futuristic atmosphere is carefully balanced with retro accessories like rotary phones, leather-bound books, and a vintage Silvertone floor radio, in homage to the roots of sound systems. Mike and his team bottle big sound into tiny packages, and the end result comes across crystal clear. 893 Folsom Street.
2. Japonica (coffee + flowers)
Image by Valerie Nara.
Japonica café and shop owner Valerie Nara transformed her small but charming flower store into a community watering hole for local Inner Richmond families and friends. Nara’s passion for meeting people and fostering lasting relationships prompted her to bring the community together via her love for coffee—particularly local San Rafael-based Weaver’s Coffee artisan blends. She bought the next-door café and knocked out the wall to create a cozy nook complete with an eclectic mix of picnic tables, chalkboard-painted décor, and delicate glass cake stands showcasing pastries from Café Madeline. Lilacs and peonies will take center stage in this spring’s floral arrangements and can be pre-ordered at the store to celebrate special occasions. From the handcrafted jam jar labels to Nara’s collection of artfully designed Japanese boxes, these personalized accents are an extension of the owner herself. 5501 California St.
3. 111 Minna Gallery (coffee + art)
Image by 111 Minna Gallery
Step into 111 Minna Gallery for the coffee, and stay for the vibrant art show featuring a rotation of local and internationally renowned artists. Attracting visitors since 1993, this gallery now doubles as a coffee bar (serving Four Barrel), aptly named "Red Door Coffee." Artwork by Michael Garlington and Jonny Hirshmugal is currently on display, both of whom contributed to the ominous "Gates of Minna" archway sculpture. Low-rise tables fashioned from tree trunks and wrap-around wooden benches give the bar an urban vibe and make it a prime meeting spot for larger groups.
On a deadline? Patrons can stay plugged into their laptops with complimentary WiFi at the beautiful steel-top bar or high tables. The gallery often hosts live performances, awesome DJs, film screenings, and, for the lucky few, private events. 111 Minna St.
4. Borderlands (coffee + books)
Image by Borderlands
While it is not unusual to see a coffee bar situated in the tranquil confines of a bookstore, I want to highlight this Mission mainstay because of the unique relationship between its bookstore and coffee patrons. The café often hosts book readings and signings, creating an extension of the bookstore and providing a space for readers to grab their latest science fiction, fantasy, or horror read.
The front of the café caters to a social crowd—good friends meeting to catch up and study groups meeting to slack off. Tables in the back are the place to go if you want to plug in for a few uninterrupted hours. Or, if you’re like me, you can visit this cafe to browse the bookshelves, hoping that a super cute guy will look up from his comic book to see that you, too, enjoy the suspenseful plot of Ironman and aren’t just fueling an unhealthy obsession with Robert Downey Jr. If you are not me and appreciate these fantastical genres, this bookstore is the best of the best, with extremely knowledgeable, friendly staff that can answer your toughest questions. 870 Valencia Street.
5. Fayes Video Rental and Coffee (coffee + video)
Image by author.
After perusing Borderlands, hop over to another Mission favorite, Fayes Video Rental and Coffee. Wall-to-wall DVDs are organized by genre for your browsing pleasure, and a full coffee bar offers caffeinated options for your drinking leisure. Popular rentals are The Wire (the first season) and Me, You, and Everyone We Know. If a showtune or two is more your style, I definitely recommend coming here to get your java and Jean Valjean on with the recent movie release of Les Miserables. Consult their blog for new release updates, as well as a price chart highlighting daily specials. 3614 18th Street.
6. Spin City Laundromat (coffee + laundry)
Image by author.
Wash, rinse, sip, repeat. I’m so smitten with this establishment that does double duty as a coffee shop and laundromat that I just might consider schlepping my clothes the 3.7 miles. After you separate your darks and lights, plant yourself at the window bar to peruse celeb-studded magazines (oh hey, an issue of 7x7!) and take advantage of the free WiFi.
SF-based artist Apaulo O'Hart created the eye-catching chalkboard signage promoting the Blue Bottle Coffee Co. beverages available for your imbibing enjoyment whilst your unmentionables tumble-dry. Dynamo Donuts and Black Jet Baking offer coconut-sprinkled donuts and chocolate sea salt cookies for your snacking pleasure as well. The social scene is creative and intellectual; I snagged a window seat and eavesdropped on two dog-walking ladies gabbing about a friend’s proposal and listened to the barista drop some mad illustration lingo—reminding me yet again that I forgot to get a design degree. 1299 Sanchez Street.
7. Mojo Bicycle Café (coffee + bikes)
Image by author.
Two San Francisco staples are wed together in this two-in-one shop that caters to the caffeinated crowd and the cycling crews. Step down into this gorgeous rustic orange Victorian and enter the bustle of a dynamic mix of cafe patrons and bicycle racers.
The NoPa cafe boasts a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, wine and beer selections, and an espresso menu serving up Ritual Coffee and Ron Swanson, a house specialty—black lager topped off with a shot of espresso. The back room serves as a full-service bicycle shop, offering repairs and tune-ups for your loyal set of wheels. Friendly and accomplished cyclists comprise the staff, eager to make course recommendations and promote their organized summer rides.
Stop by on Thursday evenings to enjoy eats from pop-up cafe Rice Paper Scissors, or drop by during happy hour for cheap drinks and conversation against a jiving Beck playlist. You'll have to move at lightning-fast speed to nab a parklet table outside, as folks tend to sit and stay a while, and for good reason. On a sunny day, just sitting out here amongst the cyclists will make you feel like you're recovering from a long, challenging bicycle workout. Mmm, that Ron Swanson is making my calves feel better already. 639 Divisadero Street.
Can't get enough? Also check out: Flora Grubb Gardens (succulents), SF Rapha Cycle Club (bikes), Herbal Mission (cannabis), Brain Wash (laundry), Rose Tea. If you have any we missed, let us know in the comments!