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If terms such as third wave, cortado and single origin get your caffeine senses tingling, read on. San Francisco is your mecca. The coffee menus here are diverse, indulgent and downright indecent when it comes to the sheer number of ways the baristas in this city sling their expertly whipped milk foam.

Its not going too far to say the San Francisco coffee tasting experience verges on sensory overload. Bourbon, peanut butter, condensed milk – no ingredient seems off limits. Youll hear Blue Bottle murmured on coffee hungry lips across the city, but this once mighty cafe has gone nationwide and lost its kick. The independents are the best places to sample San Franciscos good stuff. 

San Francisco's top coffee roasters

Equator

Great tasting coffee may be the ultimate goal, but how do you find an edge in a city packed with single origin beans that compel you to amp up your caffeine intake? Ethics – and plenty of them. Thats the side order that comes with every Equator expertly brewed cup of coffee. Doing good deeds left right and centre, this coffee roasters belief is that simply by drinking your favourite beverage, you can make the world a better place.

Thankfully, arranging fair loans for coffee farmers and supporting womens rights hasnt distracted them from creating stellar drinks. Theres a lot to be intimidated by when coffee tasting in San Francisco, but not at Equator. Yes, you can sip on the much coveted single origin coffees, but there are blends and lattes for everyone here. 

Locations: 2nd Street (SoMa) & Fort Mason (Marina Blvd)

Cost: Espresso $3.25 / Latte $4.00

Instagram @equatorcoffees

Orbzii tip: If exploring San Francisco’s steep streets gets too much, take a trip over to Sausalito, where youll find another Equator branch and a slightly more chilled vibe. 

san fran four barrel
Instagram @fourbarrelcoffee

Four Barrel Coffee

In heavily caffeinated circles, Four Barrel Coffee is considered THE best in the business. Not just in San Francisco, but the whole of the USA. A bold claim indeed. Roasting beans in San Francisco, this coffee roaster also has a couple of cafes that froth, brew and blend for San Franciscans looking to boost their energy levels. So whats going to get you through their doors? Well, lets talk coffee tasting in San Francisco.

Its about the furthest thing from a pumpkin spiced latte youll find. Called cupping, different single origin blends are presented to you – usually on a tasting flight. Like wine tasting, but decidedly less boozy. Heres where youll learn to pick out signature notes and be able to tell your Guatamalan Retanas from your Ethiopian Bedhatus. If thats a smidge too highbrow – or time-consuming for your LA to San Francisco trip itinerary – just nip in to any Four Barrel location for your java hit. 

Locations: Valencia St, Divisadero St & Burrows St 

Cost: Espresso $3.25 / Latte $5  

Orbzii tip: If youre travelling elsewhere in the USA, ask your barista where they get their coffee. If they say Four Barrel, dont hesitate to order. Youll be surprised how far their beans travel.

San Francisco's best coffee shops

Snowbird Coffee

There are two things you need to know about Snowbird Coffee. One, they may just serve the best coffee in San Francisco. Two, every thirsty, brew-hunting, coffee connoisseur in the city has this spot on their top ten list. So its with a bag full of mixed emotions that we recommend it. Yes, youll likely have to queue – and good luck getting a seat – but ultimately, the coffees worth it. Well, actually its the menu that always woos us. All the classics are there – Americano, mocha, latte. But really, San Francisco is the place to try something a little new. Never had a Cortado? Nows the time.

The cafe bombon is worth a go, but its the Spaniard that keeps regulars coming back for more. Rumour has it, condensed milk is the secret. And the decor? Its serving industrial seating mixed with soft lights and smooth wood surroundings. Though, as we said, thats of little concern, as youll most likely be getting your order to go. 

Location: 9th Ave (Inner Sunset) 

Cost: Espresso (single shot) $2 / Latte $4.50 

san fran snowbird
Instagram @snowbirdcoffee
san fran farleys
Instagram @farleyscoffee

Farley’s

Theres a time and a place for San Franciscos third wave, artisanal and sensory coffee culture brews. And then thereFarleys. Theyre offering something altogether more homely, and we cant give any higher recommendation other than to say, were here for it. From decor to delicious drinks, this well-loved San Francisco bean slinger has been quietly roasting in-house for 30 years.

Drop in for a plant-strewn cafe thats exceptionally well-stocked with reading material. Hundreds of magazines cover just about every interest and will lure you away from your phone. Do acquaint yourself with the snacks and pastries on offer. If the hand-made empanada havent sold out, tuck in. 

Location: 18th St 

Cost: Espresso $2.75 / Latte $4.50 

Orbzii tip: Vegans, Farleys pastries menu isnt entirely off limits. They ship in organic vegan donuts from Californian artisanal baker Pepples Donut Farm just for you.  

Coffee Bar

This coffee shop has earned a nod from Gwyneth Paltrows GOOP platform. Theres a lot to take in there, but whether you see that as a valid shout or not, get to Coffee Bar. Why? Well lead with the seasonal winner, their Peanut Butter Caramel Bourbon Latte. Served in January, its quite the seasonal lift we all need. Resolutions can wait for February. Weve no doubt that health-kingpin Gwyneth is looking to less calorie laden brews on Coffee Bars menu for her caffeine hit.

Year round their menus awash with espressos, cold brews and milk alternatives to keep your lithe figure in check. Theres also a mocha and hot chocolate laden with artisan chocolate for those times when will power abandons you. All of Coffee Bars drinks are bourne from Mr. Espresso Coffee Roasters beans. Famous in the Bay Area, the baristas here take the institutions coffee to new heights. 

Locations: Montgomery St & Kearny St 

Cost: Espresso $3.50 / $4.75 

san fran coffee bar
Instagram @originalcoffeebarsf

Orbzii tip: If youre looking for the full, hand-crafted coffee experience, time your visit between 8am – 2pm.  

Feeling suitably antsy for a cuppa? We dont blame you. San Franciscan coffee is just too tempting to miss out on. Much like the Orbzii app. Pop it on your phone to plan and book your way to a seat at some of San Franciscos best coffee tasting venues.