A San Francisco coffee crawl

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Caffeinating like a pro in the City by the Bay

Move over Seattle. Step aside Portland. There’s a new coffee cool kid on the West Coast, and she’s got good taste: San Francisco.

In June 2014, I visited San Francisco to research some articles and catch a little R&R. It was not my first rodeo in Fog City, so to froth up the experience a little, I decided to get buzzed for two days straight. Before you write me off as a day-drinking lush, you should know I’m talking about coffee, not cocktails.

Armed with a caffeine-marked map of suggestions from my research (as well as my sister’s similar love for coffee shop hopping), Mr. Trip Styler and I raced around the Bay City sipping up a storm. Our dog, Mr. Nacho King, even came along for the high-octane excursion (though he mostly foraged for crumbs).

If you’re curious how a lot of java impacts 48 hours in a city, know this: We were so wide-eyed and gung-ho—courtesy of our liquid diet—we even had time to marvel at the Golden Gate Bridge from Marshall Beach, and eat at some of the best restaurants in the city (a feat we somehow managed sans reservations).

Coffee nerds (and casual drinkers) unite! After scouring the Pacific Coast for the top brews, I give you three savor-worthy San Francisco sips.

Stopping in at Sightglass Coffee

Sightglass Coffee

If you’re into indie roasters, Sightglass Coffee will make your heart race. With three locations around the city, this sibling-owned coffee shop duo shies away from large bean buys and too-fast expansion. Instead, owners have taken their time to brew their business over small-batch beans and top-notch joe in spaces straight out of a Monocle magazine photoshoot. When we visited the Mission location, I considered pitching a tent between the white hexagonal floor tiles and the burgundy leather banquettes because the environs were so fetching, I wanted to live there. Actually, forget the tent, I’d never sleep if I was surrounded by a constant caffeine drip.

Blue Bottle Coffee

A favorite of Mr. Trip Styler’s for its craft coffee and bitty menu, we stopped by two of Blue Bottle’s locations during our San Francisco coffee crawl. Each minimalist wood-meets-concrete space serves as a canvas to the coffee, which appears to be brewed by a wizard in apparatuses running the gamut from a 1970s lever espresso machine to a five-pot siphon set-up. While coffee connoisseurs such as moi faint at the sight of this science-fair brew-gear, regular consumers rave about resulting taste. Win-win.

Viewfinder Tip: Hit Blue Bottle Coffee’s Mint Plaza café between 7-11 a.m., to pair a butter-topped, Belgium waffle with a wizard-crafted cup-o-joe.

Four Barrel Coffee

Our final jolt of java geekery found us in a coffee wonderland where buzz phrases such as single origin, pour over, and Clever dripper permeated the conversation around us. Four Barrel does not mess around with quick-fix coffee or substandard brew techniques. On the contrary; this San Francisco coffee institution is a daily pilgrimage for serious coffee nerds who can sniff the “sly seductress” (as Four Barrel calls java), from miles away. When we popped into the Valencia Street café, I could see why the warehousey space topped in timber slats and oversized pendant lights draws coffee disciples in droves. The sly seductress’ nectar is oh-so-smooth (as we expected).

Honorable mention

Two other not-to-miss San Francisco outposts blending design and flavor are Réveille Coffee Co. and Saint Frank Coffee.

As a coffee lover who is at once smitten by taste, ritual, and design, it’s clear why the Bay Area is moving up in the West Coast rankings for best coffee port of call. Sorry Seattle, I’m going to declare a first-place tie between San Francisco and Portland as the coffee cool kids.

Which West Coast coffee institutions keep you caffeinated and inspired?

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Trip Styler

Trish Friesen chose an unlikely profession given her fear of flying and propensity toward car, air, boat, train, and chairlift sickness. Thanks to Gravol, Sea-Bands, and cruise ship stabilizers, the reluctant—yet enthusiastic—jetsetter packs her bag once every two weeks to swim with sharks in the Great Barrier Reef or to sample the latest libation in Portland. Trish unpacks her suitcase in Vancouver, Canada, Eh! where she’s the editor-in-chief of TripStyler.com, a travel lifestyle website for aspiring jetsetters. Find her moonlighting on Expedia, Fodor's, Jetsetter, and as a travel expert on TV while circumventing the globe with her entourage: a MacBook Air, an Olympus camera, and the biggest carry-on she can fit on the plane.

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