Recently I found myself in a slump. At my lowest, I was binge-watching shows during the day (a sunny one, mind you) instead of taking nice walks around the city. So, in an effort to be productive one weekend, I packed up my kindle, my Moleskine, and my Swell bottle (am I proving to be too millennial? How about too SF lifestyle?) and walked to a nearby coffee shop—away from the tv.
I love exploring the city and finding new spots. My favorite kind of spot: coffee & tea. What makes me like a certain spot? Well, for reading, I have three parameters:
- Taste: If I can finish the drink I ordered, we are good. I’m not the pickiest person, but sometimes I just have to accept that I don’t like something.
- Space: Are there enough tables? Are the tables big enough to set my drink and my kindle plus my notebook and pens (and pencil case)? Is there enough space that I won’t feel ashamed of staying too there long?
- Relief: Please tell me there’s a restroom and that it’s clean because I will be sipping on my beverage(s) and will eventually need to relieve myself.
The fourth parameter is Connectivity i.e. wi-fi availability, but I don’t usually bring my laptop to coffee shops, so consider it a bonus, a cherry on top (although I hate preserved cherries on desserts), if they do have wifi. That said, I don’t think I’m asking for very much especially if I’m being charged ~$5 per beverage.
Here’s a list of some cozy and possibly underrated coffee shops in the west side in case anyone else is also in a binge-watching slump like me:
- Where to Find It: Outer Richmond (and also the Sunset)
- Website: http://homecoffeesf.com/menu/
- Tell Me About It: I love the variety and creativity of the drinks and food here. I’ve tried most, if not all, of their toast options, and I liked them enough to come back multiple times. The place seems to be popular and the seats get filled, but no need to get here super early. Plus points: there is definitely wifi here. (Bookish Plug: I hung out with my beautiful copy of The Twelves Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti here.)
- Where to Find It: West Portal
- Website: https://www.ballastcoffee.com/
- Tell Me About It: The food and drinks here are very simple, but I come here for the space: they have an outdoor patio!!! If you hate being cooped up indoors, this is a good option for you (when the weather permits). However, the wifi doesn’t quite make it outside, so if you need the internet, inside is your best bet. (Bookish Plug: I brought Trip along when I went here—see Trip: it may have lasted too long.)
- Where to Find It: Japantown / Lower Pacific Heights
- Tell Me About It: What? Isn’t that a Korean BBQ place? Close. Literally. It’s a cute cafe on the street level of the YakiniQ building (or whatever it’s called). It can feel a bit stuffy inside at first, but the feeling either goes away or your body gets used to it. Plus points: there is definitely wifi here. (PS, my photos are more than a year old. I just stopped taking photos after the first visit.)
- Where to Find It: Haight
- Website: https://wholesomebakery.com/
- Tell Me About It: This is a vegan bakery shop along Divisadero. (For the lactose sensitive/intolerant, this place is heaven. They use almond milk as a default.) There are always seats, and the pastries/food are consistently good. I typically steer clear of matcha tea lattes (unless it’s a matcha place), but I enjoyed the rose matcha tea latte here. I am not sure if there is wifi here, but they serve Andytown Coffee, which is my fave in SF! (Bookish Plug: I read Less by Andrew Sean Greer here—see Less Serious.)
- Where to Find It: Inner Sunset
- Website: http://snowbirdcoffee.com/
- Tell Me About It: Such an underrated coffee shop on 9th Ave. They have great coffee, and they recently fixed up the interior to add more seating. I do not recall if they have wi-fi here, but it’s a nice place to go to if you’re looking for a quiet place to stay. Deeper inside is more dimly lit (yellow lights, what can we do) but the seats closer to the door get more light. (Bookish Plug: This place is so dangerously close to Books on the Park—see My friendly neighborhood Books on the Park—that I have, on more than one occasion, brought freshly purchased books here. Two of them are: The Revenge of Analog by David Sax and Suggestible You by Erik Vance. I also hung out to read What is the What by Dave Eggers here.)