Love Thy Neighborhood: San Francisco Caffeine Crawl
Columns, Features, Love Thy Neighborhood

Love Thy Neighborhood: San Francisco Caffeine Crawl

During my time at Macalester, I’ve had the ability to travel to many different cities across the country. If you are hoping to have a different experience than the typical tourist, locals know best when it comes to choosing which restaurants to go to and places to visit. While these recommendations have taken me to many great places, I’ve also developed another theory when it comes to discovering a new city: explore it through visiting its different coffee shops.

I’ll be honest, I’m super biased. After all, I do work for Tiny Footprint Coffee and am a coffee snob/enthusiast! But I’ve consistently found that if you want to see interesting/hipster neighborhoods, as well as get a good taste of what locals (and their coffee) are like, hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop is the way to go. Call it a caffeine crawl!

In January, I visited San Francisco for the MacConnect trip and stayed a few extra days with friends to explore and have fun before returning to the freezing weather in Minnesota.

One day, I went out to explore the city by myself. Starting at the Civic Center BART station, I started walking down main thoroughfares and side streets to get a feel for what San Francisco had to offer.

San Francisco City Hall near the Civic Center BART station. Photo by Joe Huber'15.
San Francisco City Hall near the Civic Center BART station. Photo by Joe Huber’15.

My first stop was at Blue Bottle Coffee in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Interestingly, the coffee bar was tucked inside an alley-like street that had been landscaped and pedestrianized. This wasn’t the first time I had Blue Bottle while in San Francisco, but I’m obsessed and they have excellent craft coffee.

Sitting outside their coffee bar on a bench in the alleyway was super fun. People passed by with their children and pets. It was nice to just take a break, relax, listen to the sounds of the city and enjoy weather that didn’t require me to cover every part of my body.

Leaving Blue Bottle, I continued on my journey down Market Street towards the Castro.

There, I walked around, enjoying the architecture, artwork and, most importantly, the people who make the city come alive. I then stopped by Reveille Coffee Co. for lunch and, of course, another cup of coffee. The coffee shop had an incredible energy from the bright sunlight shining in and the people socializing with one another over good food and even better coffee. Had I fallen in love with San Francisco at this point? Absolutely, and it wasn’t just because of the coffee or the fact that I had been listening to Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” nonstop since I had arrived.

A classic hilly street outside the Castro Theatre. Photo by Joe Huber'15.
A classic hilly street outside the Castro Theatre. Photo by Joe Huber’15.

Afterwards, I continued exploring the Castro before making my way to The Mission. Making my way down Valencia Street, I explored the bookshops and retail stores that were filled with people from all over. Coming from St. Louis, it’s rare for me to experience such vitality in an urban environment, so the ability to shop and enjoy the city around me was a wonderful experience. I then explored Mission Street, which offered a different experience than Valencia, giving me a diverse taste of all that San Francisco had to offer.

A colorful mural on the side of a building in The Mission.  Photo by Joe Huber'15.
A colorful mural on the side of a building in The Mission. Photo by Joe Huber’15.

Even though I didn’t know San Francisco like the back of my hand, selecting coffee shops to visit and walking between them gave me the opportunity to get up close and experience the city and its people. I look forward to returning to San Francisco soon, not only to visit Blue Bottle Coffee and Reveille Coffee Co. again, but also the many others I missed along the way.

February 20, 2015

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