Best cafes in SF Bay Area for espresso: Blue Bottle Cafe at Mint Plaza and Barefoot Coffee Roasters

SF Bay Area residents like to brag about how much better their espresso is than in other cities. The reality is that most espresso in SF is terrible and the cafe experience is equally dismal. There are but two places that I can rely on for very good espresso (high quality that have not been over-roasted to the point of having a burnt taste, it should be somewhat thick and the taste is complex — not watery, not too bitter, not flat). In addition, the way coffee is served is critical: real porcelain cups and saucers. At Starbucks and other chain cafes, if you ask for espresso, they serve it to you in a large paper cup! Pathetic.

Here are my two favorite cafes: Blue Bottle Cafe (pictured above) at Mint Plaza in downtown San Francisco and Barefoot Coffee Roasters in Silicon Valley.

Blue Bottle Cafe

Blue Bottle Cafe opened a few months ago in downtown San Francisco in the newly renovated Mint Plaza, very close to the Westfield Shopping Center (and Bloomingdales). Mint Plaza is home to one of my other favorite restaurants, Chez Papa. It’s not just the quality of the coffee that makes me a regular customer at Blue Bottle. The cafe is modern and spacious, with large windows that let in a lot of light. One of my biggest complaints about cafes in the Mission, Castro, and the Haight is that they’re very dark, dingy and dirty. Blue Bottle also serves very delicious brioches and small breakfast dishes. You can order their coffee online. Check out the lovely photos and video of Blue Bottle on Laughing Squid.

Blue Bottle Cafe
66 Mint Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Barefoot Coffee Roasters

When I find myself having to go down to Silicon Valley for meetings, I stop by at Barefoot Coffee Roasters in a mini-mall in Santa Clara. The quality of the coffee makes up for the total lack of ambiance in the neighborhood (although it is next to an excellent Pakistani restaurant called Shan). What I like about Barefoot Coffee is of course, the excellent coffee and free Wi-Fi. It is a cozy place to sit and work/relax or just spend time with friends. Like Blue Bottle, you can order their coffee online.

Barefoot Coffee Roasters
5237 Stevens Creek Blvd
Santa Clara, CA 95051
+1 408 248 4500


About Esme Vos

Esme Vos is the founder of Mapplr, a travel site featuring boutique hotels, luxury resorts, travel guides and restaurant reviews. You can find her on and Twitter.


  1. > “SF Bay Area residents like to brag about how much better their espresso is than in other cities.”

    I’ve lived in the Bay Area for almost 20 years, and I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  2. Blue Bottle just opened so not many people know about it. Barefoot Coffee is in a mini-mall in Santa Clara, also not very obvious — another reason very few people know. So I’m not surprised if you have not heard about them.