The 10 Best San Francisco Coffee Roasters (Complete Guide)

Last Updated on September 30, 2021 by John Moretti

Want a place to roast the most delicious coffee beans in San Francisco? Well, I must admit that the list is pretty long because there are so many talented(more like gifted) baristas in The City That Knows How. 

You should take that moniker seriously because the excellent Cafes and coffee bean specialists sure know how to make the perfect roast beans and brews.

As a coffee connoisseur, I must admit that it’s easy to get caught up in the coffee scene here, trying to find out what all the rave is about and finding out it’s all true, then wondering how to get off my coffee high later.

Seriously though, after thorough research, consultation, and experimenting, it boiled down (no pun intended) to these ten coffee roasters, which I can assure you will make you wonder what you were drinking before (unless you’ve been to places like New York, Italy, etc.).

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual Coffee is a sacred routine for so many San Franciscans, and it takes place in three physical sites and dozens of associate coffee shops and merchants.

Eileen Hassi Rinaldi, the company’s owner, retains the focus where it has been since 2005: on the local farmers of Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Their roasts arrive in stunning black-and-red bags bearing Ritual’s iconic hammer and coffee cup logo.

I used to frequent the Ritual in Flora Grubb, where I enjoyed sampling their seasonal espresso. Because of their close contacts with the most significant coffee producers in all of the world’s growing regions, Ritual obtains the best beans.

Ritual is a forerunner in the specialty coffee sector in San Francisco. Eileen relocated to San Francisco from Seattle, where she developed a taste for hand-roasted specialty coffee.

Given the lack of this type of coffee in San Francisco at the time, she decided to combine her passion for coffee with her experience running small businesses to create her cafe and roastery.

Ritual was an immediate hit, and it has continued to expand over the past 15 years. They now have six coffee shops, including 1026 Valencia Street, their main café and store.

You can buy or consume their coffee at any of their locations, or you can order it online. They also work with Dandelion Chocolate, and we can find their coffee in a variety of San Francisco Bay area offices, grocery shops, restaurants, and cafés.

Ritual is committed to responsible sourcing of its coffee, and as a result, they work directly with the majority of its coffee suppliers. They source their coffee from dozens of farmers and co-ops around the world, and they’ve worked with the majority of them for years. 

Ritual gets green beans according to season, ensuring that their hand-roasted coffees are always at their peak.

Pros

  • Responsibly sourced coffee
  • Their brews are always delicious and fresh
  • Freshly roasted coffee every day

Cons

  • Lines are too long sometimes
  • Pricey

Four Barrel Coffee – Best Espresso Shot

You can’t help but love the rustic charm at Four Barrel coffee shop, and their espresso is divine.

They are uncompromising in their values and very old school, or so you’ll get everything done to perfection. 

Since 2007, Jeremy Tooker, creator of Four Barrel, has fought for light roasts, single sources, and a soundtrack dominated by vinyl rather than well-managed Spotify playlists. 

His 1900s German-made Probat UG-15 roaster generated 12 different roasts with notes ranging from baked pear to Campari.

They have a great menu, and you get to view mounted mammals. I’m a massive fan of their Portola location. It reminds me of the days before coffee became fashionable. Before Gibraltars, cafes played either college rock or jazz, and chai was extremely popular.

At the slow bar, you can’t go wrong with splitting a Chemex of the barista’s recommendation.

Pros

  • Amazing espresso
  • You get sparkling water along with your espresso
  • You can watch them roast at the back 

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Pay more for vegan milk

Sightglass

With ties to Blue Bottle and Four Barrel, brothers Jerad and Justin Morrison have a strong coffee background. Still, their talents fully solidified with the opening of a kiosk in 2009, followed by a full-fledged Sightglass coffee bar nearly two years later. 

Sightglass Coffee started as a service cart in the corner of a SoMa warehouse. The company took over the rest of the warehouse two years later and renovated it into their first roastery and coffee bar.

They now have four cafés in San Francisco. Sightglass roasts their coffees on old Probat equipment with a hands-on, meticulous method. They are also concerned about sustainability and ethical business practices, as seen by their direct relationships with many coffee producers.

They’ve kept the heat on since then and added two more sites to their expanding empire: a stand-alone at Divisadero and Page and a collaboration with the SFMOMA.

They roast light to accentuate the fruit nuances that I prefer. Great specialty drinks and any espresso from a single origin tastes fantastic. Sightglass provides single-origin items as well as great environments in which to experience them.

Pros

  • Love the multi-level
  • Great cold brews
  • Nice hot latte
  • Great vibe

Cons

  • Limited seating for a large crowd
  • No public wifi

Blue Bottle Coffee

It is a trendy roasting shop and very pricey too. Look no further than Blue Bottle Coffee, which launched its first Tokyo shop earlier this year, to see how far the Bay Area’s coffee scene has progressed. 

The simplicity of James Freeman’s global juggernaut is what sets it apart: each cup is brewed independently, in the same size, and without any unique flavors. 

While the pumpkin spice latte crowd is unlikely to be won over, Blue Bottle’s investment base, which includes many of Silicon Valley’s elite, is betting big on its expansion.

James Freeman changed the coffee market and cleared the ground for multi-roaster shops like Mazarine Coffee to exist. Despite their explosive and bloated growth powered by venture finance and M&A, the quality has remained very high.

Pros

  • Quite trendy
  • Aromatic coffee flavors
  • Great service 

Cons

  • Nothing unique 

Andytown

Andytown Coffee Roasters, founded in 2014, is not one of San Francisco’s oldest specialty coffee roasters, but it is one of the most well-known.

Michael McCrory and Lauren Crabbe, a husband and wife team with years of experience as baristas, created it. Despite operating the business almost entirely on their initiative, it was a success, and they now have three cafés. Their roastery, training lab, and coffee supply store are all housed at another site.

Andytown coffee is well-known in San Francisco, and you can find it in a variety of places in addition to their cafés. Matching Half and Neighbor’s Corner are two vibrant cafes, while Nopa and Lazy Bear are great restaurants. 

On their website, you may purchase whole bean coffees, including blends and single-origins. Andytown has been busy filling a vacuum in an Outer Sunset neighborhood underserved by local coffee roasters since starting in 2014. 

I love that they roast at the back of their shop, and being so near to the beach is soothing. They make drinks and roast with a twist, and the Snowy Plover is among their best.

Their coffee is delicious, the owners are charming, they have a lovely espresso machine, and their scones are delicious; the feeling I get when I go there makes my heart all warm and fuzzy. 

Pros

  • Smooth lattes
  • Lots of seating
  • Snowy Plover is awesome

Cons

  • Don’t go on a Sunday too crowded and no seats

Equator Coffees & Teas 

I have to begin by highlighting that Equator is San Francisco’s coffee roaster with a Certified B Corporation ranking, meaning they are a Benefit Corporation. Eye of the Tiger espresso is one of their signature beverages. 

Twelve years after founding the Equator out of their Marin County garage, Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell launched Finca Sophia, their first coffee farm operation. 

Expect the roast to join a menu that includes unique blends for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group and New York’s Per Se, among others now that the Panamanian farm is ready to give its first harvest.

This form of third-party accreditation necessitates a comprehensive approach to all business decisions, including those affecting employees, suppliers, the community, farmers, and the environment.

Everything relating to the human aspect and quality takes precedence rather than simply the bottom line. Some of the rarest coffees in the Bay you’ll find at the Mill Valley location.  

Their Fort Mason coffeehouse is located at the gateway to San Francisco’s previous US Army Post, transformed into a thriving hub for art forms, culture, cuisine, and coffee. The cafe is sleek and industrial, with beautiful scenery of the Golden Gate Bridge and bay. 

You may enjoy your morning cappuccino or enjoy the view with a drink of beer or wine while cycling, walking, or driving by on the Bay Trail. Savory and sweet pastry, salads to go, quiche, and blended fruit sodas are all available. 

Check out the incredible Ground Control Brewer that also produces a vibrant and intricate cup of joe!”

Pros

  • Superb iced vanilla latte
  • Open pretty early
  • Oat milk chai latte is awesome

Cons

  • Slow service sometimes

Wrecking Ball

Trish Rothgeb and Nicholas Cho, two veterans and renowned specialists in the specialty coffee industry, launched Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters.

Rothgeb has more than 30 years of experience in coffee roasting and sourcing, is a Coffee Quality Institute-licensed Q-Grader and Trainer, and is credited with coining and defining the term “third wave coffee.”

Cho has worked as a board member for the Specialty Coffee Association of America, their Standards Committee, and other essential coffee organizations for about 20 years.

They now own and operate two cafés in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as a roastery (which uses a Probat machine). Wrecking Ball’s coffee, you’ll find a vast number of wholesalers throughout the region, in addition to their cafes and website.

Pros

  • Great cappuccino
  • Amazing mocha
  • Great breakfast

Cons

  • Long lines, no matter how early you go 

Flywheel

Flywheel Coffee Roasters, situated in San Francisco, is a family-owned and run specialty coffee roaster and cafe. Aquiles Guerrero, who was practically born into the coffee business, created the company.

He was born on a Nicaraguan coffee farm, his parents had a San Francisco coffee store, and before he was 20, he worked as a barista and roaster.

Their longstanding affinity with coffee aided flywheel’s success and growth as a roaster and cafe, and their coffee bar is now a thriving and famous San Francisco venue.

Pros

  • WiFi
  • Great coffee blends
  • Nice baristas
  • Lovely atmosphere
  • Nice latte and savory scone

Cons

  • Charge extra for vegan milk

Linea 

Linea, a Mission coffee shop, served waffles and salads before serving coffee, indicating the all-encompassing experience Ecco Caffe creator Andrew Barnett was attempting to create when he established Linea in 2013. 

Barnett has judged both the Cup of Excellence aiming to enhance coffee farmers’ working conditions and profitability.

He also judged the World Barista Championship, then eventually gave in to the drip coffee crowd, bringing in tiny batches from El Salvador, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Brazil, as well as a decaf mix that sparked controversy.

Old-school espresso and AeroPress alternatives, good coffees, and delicious waffles are what you’ll get here. After conversing with Andrew Barnett, I learned more about the Italian inspiration and have come to appreciate the balanced espresso blend that goes well with or without milk.

Your love for espresso will take on a new shape here. Linea espresso and other signature beverages and roasts you’ll come across.

Barnett has a long experience in the coffee industry, dating back to 1977 when he started working as a barista and fell in love with the beverage.

Ecco Caffe, a pioneer of specialty coffee roasting on the West Coast, began roasting his coffee in 1999. He began traveling to origin to visit his producers in 2002, and he was one of the first in the industry to do so regularly.

Barnett draws on his significant coffee experience and knowledge to provide his customers and guests with the best coffee experience possible. As a result, Linea’s two locations are top-rated and successful, and their coffee has earned the Best Espresso award from San Francisco Magazine.

Pros

  • Great decaf beans
  • Fast service
  • Great brews
  • Great espresso

Cons

  • Limited seating
  • Cappucino inconsistent 

Sextant

Kinani Ahmed, an Ethiopian-born coffee roaster and retailer, created Sextant Coffee Roasters in 2014, making it the sole Ethiopian-owned coffee roaster and store in the United States.

Before launching Sextant, Ahmed operated another coffee shop for several years and grew up among traditional coffee growers and roasters. As a result, he’s had a lifelong relationship with coffee, which fuels his love and competence in the subject.

Ahmed taps into his Ethiopian connections to locate the highest-quality coffee produced in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner.

Sextant provides an outstanding coffee experience for their customers while supporting their farmers and communities by combining innovative roasting equipment and talents with expertly grown, responsibly sourced coffee.

Pros

  • Good prices
  • Great coffee
  • You can see the roasting machines
  • Love the patio
  • Ethiopian coffee is delightful 
  • Nice area to hang out

Cons

  • Pricey

Bottom Line

San Francisco is a beast when it comes to authentic coffee roasts, and of course, some of the world’s best Baristas are in the Bay Area.

There are so many coffee roasters, hundreds really, therefore we had to solicit the help of several experts who had difficulty with everything but number one, Ritual coffee roasters. 

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that they make excellent brews. The others are in no particular order but were each agreed upon by at least two experts. I hope you’ll get a chance to test out a few and see why San Francisco roasters are among the best in the country. 

Some even export as far away as Sweden. Enjoy!