Four Special Cafes in the SF Mission

I think it’s only fair that since I did a blog on the “hidden” Grand Street in Williamsburg, NY with many of it’s establishments, that I do a blog about something similar in my home of the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m currently in a short term sublet in Potrero Hill and I regularly roll down that hill into the more crowded and happening Mission district.

One of people’s favorite parts of the city, the Mission is known for it’s amazing Mexican food.

And, of course, it’s coffee.

In the past 16 days I’ve walked, ran and driven through the neighborhood many times now and been quite intrigued with a few cafes in the area. I grew up in Berkeley and now live in Brooklyn, so I’ve seen some of the world’s best cafes. But I’ve discovered four cafes in the Mission that really stand out, and in completely different ways. I’ll share them in the order I discovered them.

1. First is a cafe called Philz Coffee on 24th Street at about Harrison. There are a few different locations.
Here is the website: http://www.philzcoffee.com/index.html.
Here is a YouTube video (be sure to watch the description of “Ambrosia” coffee at 1:09!):

This cafe is truly unique, about as unique as my friend Kirsten Fletcher who introduced it to me on my third day back in the Bay Area. It’s difficult to decide on all of the interesteing flavors. The interior is beautiful, just like the murals right outside the door. I highly recommend it!

2. The second is a cafe suspiciously across the street from Starbucks and a branch of UCSF on the corner of Florida and Mariposa (actual accress is 1890 Bryant) called Coffee Bar.

Here is an image I like that captures some of the spirit of that part of Potrero Hill-meets-Mission:

Coffee Bar

I know, you’re probably thinking “what a boring name!” Well, maybe so, but the inside of this place is not boring at all. You walk through an old gate, then a ramp, then into a gorgeous art filled space with every seat filled with Missioners, some of them working away on their computers and some chatting.
Here is the website: http://www.coffeebar-usa.com/HOME.html

3. The third cafe I stumbled upon is more like a coffee bar. It is called Rodger’s Coffee and Tea at 3520a 20th Street at between Valencia and Mission. This smaller and unassuming cafe had a great interior, a wonderful smell, and some interesting people hanging out. It’s housed in a warehouse space with lettering from the 60’s that say something like “Cannery” with those big 60’s metal letters. They sport “The Original One Cup at a Time Free Coffee Card” which is exciting, because the way they work it is that you get the first cup on them, buy the next eight, and enjoy your tenth cup free!

Here is a photo, and I don’t know if this is Rodger or not (there is actually a video of Phil himself of Philz on YouTube):

Rodger's Coffee

A review I found expressed this: “This is one of the best cups of coffee you’ll get anywhere in the Mission, or in the city for that matter. And it comes without the attitude, which is saying a lot (ahem, Ritual Roasters and Blue Bottle). For those who are seriously into strong brewed coffee, I highly recommend the Fog Lifter or the Turkish. They also have fresh basked treats. My personal favorite is the bread pudding! Yum! Looking for a real coffee experience? Tired of posers? This is the place. But shhhh don’t tell anyone, the San Francisco Coffee police will probably come shut them down if they find out that someone has dared to serve great coffee without hipsters or attitude – and in the Mission of all places.”

4. Last, but not least (although certainly the least square footage) is Ka’fe 99 Sq Ft. It is at 3150 18th Street between Treat and Folsom. Oh my goodness this place is small. I don’t think there are any chairs…maybe one stool or something. They say “Need a break?” (Yes!) “We are there for you! Thank you for supporting our tiny adventure in your neighborhood!”

I could not find any photos online, probably because Ka’fe 99 Sq Ft is too small to show up in photographs.

I told two employees how much I loved the place and they let out a squeal of enthusiasm that filled the entire place.

Here is an opinion expressed in an online review:
I stumbled upon my Deliscious smooth earthy espresso because the rain had just flooded the cafe I was heading to… what a great little corner cafe. Could be found in the village or the left bank of Paris. 2 chairs outside (the rain had stopped). A teeny salon next door. This is one of the reasons I live in sf. The 99 sq inch cafe is my newest favorite find!”

I hate to say it, but I think East Village and Brooklyn might be lagging behind in the coffee shop department compared to the Mission in San Francisco!

Well, that’s it for now. Feel free to add your comments and/or to let me/us know about some of the other best cafes and coffee bars in the Mission district or even in the Bay Area.

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