I work from home. In practice, this means I work in cafes. A lot. Here’s a list of my favourites. It’s subjective, incomplete and will always be a work in progress. But if you are looking for somewhere to get coffee, cake or maybe just escape your own four walls, it’s a reasonable place to start.
Other disclaimers: I live on the Mission side of South of Market and my list reflects that. I don’t have anything against the Marina or the Sunset, but I rarely would make the trip to work there. I travel and sometimes work in cafes away from SF. There’s a category at the end for these, which obviously is even more incomplete and random in nature.
Blue Bottle at the Mint Plaza
Location: er, Mint Plaza. Off Mission Street between 5th and 6th (that would be opposite Mezzanine for clubber types)
Coffee: Blue Bottle, duh. Locally roasted over the water in Oakland. They have lots of fancy-schmancy brewing machinery, like the Japanese siphons and the chemistry-experiment style slow cold drip. Try the New Orleans Iced, or the Gibraltar (not on the menu). They also sell their beans and other coffee paraphernalia.
Detoxing: Kind of limited options really. There’s nice sparkling water… And the hot chocolate, now made with local Tcho chocolate (they recently switched from Recchiuti) is divine. Don’t consider their decaf really decaf if you have a weak constitution – it’s about half-caf in my opinion.
Retoxing: small selection of beers. But it’s all about the coffee.
Pastries: nice cakes and cookies. No patisserie.
Other eats: a boutique breakfast and lunch menu. If you can ever get past the doorstep, airy Acme toast with whipped butter and jam, you’re a better person than me.
Wi-fi: I believe not. You can try and linger here but at peak times you will face the death stares from the queue which is always always out the door.
Mac count: See above; all those who dare to pull out a computer are almost certainly ipad users.
Scene: local workers, coffee tourists, out-of-towners shopping. If you’re a real local, you go to the kiosk in the Hayes Valley.
Location: Florida and Mariposa (between 17th and 18th and Byrant and Alameda)
Coffee: Mr Espresso
Detoxing? Great selection of teas and tisanes.
Retoxing? Beers by the bottle of the local (Anchor, Lagunitas, Speakeasy) variety plus a few mainstream Belgiums, wines by the glass.
Pastries: Recently started carrying some of the fabulous Tell Tale line. Anthony’s cookies also available. At one time they also had Dynamo Donuts but I couldn’t swear to that any more.
Other eats: Good salads and sandwiches. They post their specials on twitter each day.
Wi-fi: Fast. Free.
Mac count: very high. 80% or so
Scene: students, techies, home-workers. Trendy without being overwhelming.
Location: Harrison between 3rd and 4th (around the corner from Whole Foods on 4th)
Coffee: Barefoot Roasters
Detoxing: bring your willpower! They do have juices and teas but the coffee is good here (and smells it) and they have a really thoughtful beer list.
Retoxing? Hurrah! See above. There’s a happy hour Monday through Friday, 5-8pm, with $1 off wine and beer.
Pastries: patisserie, cookies, usually a house-made cake or two. All good.
Other eats: slightly quirky but good salad and sandwich options. A more substantial evening menu that I’ve never tried.
Wi-fi: fast and free.
Mac count: medium. You won’t get a death stare when you pull out your PC.
Scene: start up folks, SOMA workers, randoms.
Location: On Folsom, between 17th and 18th
Coffee: De La Paz
Detoxing? Teas and aguas frescas for the hot days.
Retoxing? I’m pretty sure they serve beer and wine. They close early (4pm) at which point the shared space at the back turns into the super fancy Saison restaurant.
Pastries: more on the cookies, cake and pie side than patisserie. From Batter Bakery and Kika’s Treats.
Other eats: really great lunch and breakfast options: usually a quinoa salad, quiche, soup of the day, panini and salads. Fresh and healthful. The aforementioned Saison is next door in the evenings if you want a special dining experience.
Wi-fi: good and free; requires a password that they will happily give you.
Mac count: on the lower side. This is more of a coffee and lunch spot than somewhere where people bed in for the day, which makes it much more pleasant all round. There’s also a lovely outside space which is great for reading on warmer days.
Scene: architects, students, Potrero Hill locals. Nice and mixed.
Location: Valencia between 18th and 19th
Coffee: Blue Bottle
Detoxing? A wide variety of teas that come in a nice pot with a cute timer. The Mexican spiced hot chocolate is great. They also have their own ginger and root beer on tap.
Retoxing? No alcohol but hey, you’re in the heart of the Mission so you don’t have far to go.
Pastries: Croissants, cookies, donuts. Good but not special.
Other eats: Salads, open-faced sandwiches, a couple of larger plates like pulled pork or brisket. A late night dessert menu for the munchies.
Wi-fi: Fast and free.
Mac count: Overwhelming. As much as 99%
Scene: Bespectacled creatives, start-up wannabes, procrastinators.