Best Coffee Shops in the Bay Area
I know, I know, a post about trendy coffee shops. How cliche, right? I always find myself rolling my eyes at self-procclaimed "coffee obsessed!!!" bloggers who clutter their feed with latte selfies. Granted, I've done quite a few of those in the past, so maybe I'm a bit of a hypocrite, but I guess we all are, in our own ways. ;)
Being a self-employed creative and college student, I tend to spend quite a bit of my time at coffee shops. From solo work dates to meetings and catch-ups with friends, I've managed to work my way around quite a few (re: too many) different spots across the Bay Area. Whether you're in town for a quick visit, or looking for a new place to write up your next business plan (kidding), here are my go-to recommendations. As I continue to explore my "new(ish)" home, I'll update this list when I stumble upon new favorites.
1. Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters (Cow Hollow)
2271 Union St, San Francisco, CA
I absolutely love Wrecking Ball. I'd even go as far as to say that it's my favorite place to grab a cup of coffee ever. Yep, it's that good. Dubbed by my dear friend Eric as "The most extra coffee shop ever", it's definitely considered a hipster's paradise, with its funky wallpaper and lack of chairs. Regardless, their lattes are the best. Silky, smooth, and creamy, I love how they make their coffee slightly guilt-free, by offering simple syrup as sweetener rather than refined white sugar. I always send all of my SF visiting friends here, but with one warning: don't go before 10 am, unless you're willing to wait in a line outside the door.
2. Coffee Shop (Walnut Creek + Lafayette)
1321 Locust St, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Coffee Shop is another great, yet popular coffee house in the East Bay. Despite the fact that I live only a few minutes from their Walnut Creek location, it took me quite a while before I actually went in. Part of that, I think, was due to the insane lines. On the weekend mornings, you can most definitely expect lines wrapping around the large building. People practically clamor on top of one another to get a seat here - it's kind of crazy! But the coffee is definitely worth it. Bold and smooth, it's an intense flavor that's satisfying to even the littlest coffee lovers. With everything from full-on breakfast menus, to fancy pour-overs, it's a great place to come and grab a quick and inexpensive brunch with friends... that is, if you can get a seat.
3. Craftsman and Wolves (Mission + Polk Gulch)
746 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
By far the most edgy and hip cafe of the bunch, Craftsman and Wolves definitely has a cultish following. Foodies flock from far and wide to get a hold of their egg-filled muffins (which I've obviously never tried) and they can gather huge lines and crowds, especially during brunch time on the weekends. The best time, I've found, is to come in the evenings- that is, if you don't mind that all their pastries will be gone. Everything sells out really quickly at both locations, so if you're expecting to come to grab a bite to eat, then you may want to consider standing in line for a few hours. Or, consider an equally-as-unsettling plan, and grab some coffee to-go and head to Tartine for lunch, which is right down the street from the Mission location.
Bad plans and line waiting aside, Craftsman and Wolves does win for best latte art, hands-down.. Look how cute this Jack Skellington latte is that I got last Halloween! And they don't just do this with coffee- you can also get pretty designs drawn into their signature sipping caramel, which is exactly how it sounds (like hot chocolate, but caramel instead). Talk about unique.
4. Basque Boulangerie (Danville)
411 Hartz Ave, Danville, CA 94526
Let's be honest: if there's one combination better than bread and butter, it's truffle fries and coffee. And this cafe not only has great coffee, but amazing truffle fries. I actually stumbled upon this cafe quite randomly.: I was finishing up at a blogger event, and wanted a quick snack before I hopped back on the road. This place was less than a block from where the event was, so it was super convenient for me to grab something quickly before I sat in traffic headed back to my house. And, to my delight, it was also incredibly good. It's pretty quiet and tucked away, which makes it the perfect place to grab some coffee with friends and escape the busy city life.
5. Temple Coffee Roasters (Davis)
239 G St, Davis, CA 95616
Okay, I'm breaking the rules here a bit. This cafe isn't in the Bay Area, but it is in Northern California, so does that count? Haha, I love Temple. When I used to live in Sacramento, I used to come here all the time with my friends. They have a couple locations in the Sacramento area, and each one is amazing! Of course, I don't go here anymore, since I don'y live in that area, but my memories of it are fond. It's super quiet (usually), relatively inexpensive, and so good. Plus, they often have vegan baked treats, which is always a plus, if you're looking for something a little sweet.
6. Artis Coffee (Hayes Valley + Berkeley)
537 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Artis is yet another teeny tiny location packed with big flavors. Their coffee is so smooth and silky and creamy (and, not to forget: photogenic). I swear, there is something about San Francisco coffee that makes it taste so much better than other coffee. I don't know what it is, but this city has the best damn coffee, and Artis is no exception. Conveniently centered in beautiful Hayes Valley (and Berkeley's Fourth Street!) it's a great place to duck inside and grab something warm to escape the cold. The only downside would be that there's a lot of...interesting...people that like to loiter outside the Hayes Valley location. But hey, it's San Francisco, what else would you expect?
7. Tertulia Coffee (Uptown Oakland)
1951 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 94612
If I had to pick the best coffee shop in the East Bay... this would be it. It's less of a coffee shop but more of a local art gallery that also sells coffee, but it's really a wonderful space. It's a bright, clean, modern space right in uptown, about a block from the Fox Theater and Uber's new headquarters. I believe it's on the newer side, as I hadn't recalled seeing it before the time of this initial writing. But hands-down, Tertulia hits all the marks for me. Not only is it gorgeous and situated in a prime location, but the coffee is SO good. It's rich, creamy, and delicious. However, since they are newer, their menu is very small still, and the only milk sub they offer is almond milk (so if you're a nut-free vegan, you might not want to come here). But, if you can hang with the almond milk or traditional cow's milk (which of course I don't advocate for) then I definitely think coming here for your daily coffee is worth it. Plus, their lattes are only $3- score! Over the past few months, I've spent so much time at this little coffee shop, having business meetings, coffee dates with friends, and even just working on emails. I can't wait until I live closer to it, so I can work there on a regular basis. Something about the atmosphere there is so inspiring and warm, that I just can't help but get so much done while I'm there.
8. Algorithm Coffee Co. (Berkeley)
1122 University Ave. Berkeley, CA 94702
Another East Bay favorite, Algorithm is the epitome of the pretentious coffee shop that you just can't help but come back to. It's a little bit on the pricier side - I think I paid $5.75 for a soy milk latte- but it's great coffee and a really chill atmosphere. It's a dark, modern-rustic greyscale building with just enough sunshine to keep it warm and friendly. When I went in, it was full of students working on homework, so I'll definitely be coming here to get some studying done when I transfer to Cal. The coffee itself is the perfect balance of bitter and sweet- bitter enough so you can taste the actual coffee, but sweet enough that it doesn't need sugar. While I do enjoy my coffee black every now and then, it's not my usual preference, though I'm sure their black coffee is just as good.