The San Francisco coffee scene has really boomed over the last ten years, with the third-wave becoming something very special indeed. But with so much choice on offer, it’s difficult to know just who the best coffee roasters are.
In no particular order, we’ve put together a list of our seven favorite coffee roasters roasting the best coffee beans in San Francisco. We provide you with a little background on each roaster along with what they have to offer this year.
Ritual Coffee Roasters was founded in 2005, making it a pioneer of the San Francisco specialty coffee scene. Founder Eileen Hassi Rinaldi moved to San Francisco from Seattle, where she developed an appreciation for hand-roasted specialty coffee.
Seeing how this style of coffee was absent from San Francisco at the time, she decided to use her love of coffee and experience in managing small businesses to open her own cafe and roastery.
Ritual was an immediate success, and in the 15 years since it has been growing continuously. Today they operate 6 coffee shops, including their flagship cafe and store at 1026 Valencia Street.
You can drink or buy their coffee at any of their locations, or order it from their website. They also collaborate with Dandelion Chocolate, and their coffee is sold or served at many other cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, and offices in the San Francisco Bay area.
Ritual is serious about sourcing their coffee responsibly, and so they work directly with most of their coffee producers. They import their coffee from dozens of farmers and several co-ops all over the world, and they’ve been working with most of them for many years now. Ritual sources their green beans based on seasonality, so their hand-roasted coffees are always at their freshest.
Sightglass Coffee started as a service-cart in 2009, operating out of the corner of a SoMa warehouse. Two years later the company – founded and owned by brothers Jerad and Justin Morrison – took over the rest of the warehouse, and transformed it into their first roastery and coffee bar (located at 270 7th street).
Today they operate 4 cafes around San Francisco, and earlier this year they’ve opened their first location in Los Angeles.
The LA location (at 7051 West Willoughby Ave) is a roastery, cafe, and retail hub for produce, baked goods, and other groceries. From the seating area patrons can view the roastery, which is on full display behind a glass partition.
Sightglass roasts their coffees on vintage Probat machines, taking a hands-on, attention-oriented approach. They also care about sustainability and fair business practices, which can be seen in the direct relationship they have with many of their coffee producers.
Founded in 2014, Andytown Coffee Roasters is not one of the oldest specialty coffee roasters in San Francisco, but it is among the most prominent.
It was founded by husband and wife Michael McCrory and Lauren Crabbe, both of whom are experienced baristas. Despite running the business virtually on their own at first, the company was a success, and today they operate 3 cafes. Another location serves as their roastery, training lab, and coffee supply store.
Andytown coffee is popular around San Francisco, and is available in many locations besides their own cafes. These include lively cafes such as Matching Half and Neighbor’s Corner, and fine restaurants like Nopa and Lazy Bear. Their whole bean coffees, which include blends and single-origins, can be bought on their website.
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters was founded by Trish Rothgeb and Nicholas Cho, two veterans and leading specialists in the specialty coffee business.
Rothgeb has over 30 years’ experience in coffee roasting and sourcing, is a licensed Q-Grader and Trainer by the Coffee Quality Institute, and is even credited with coining and defining the term ‘third wave coffee’.
Cho has been managing cafes for almost 20 years, and has served as board member for the Specialty Coffee Association of America, their Standards Committee, and other leading coffee organizations.
Today they run two cafes in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as their own roastery (which uses a Probat machine). Besides their own cafes and their website, Wrecking Ball’s coffee can be found in a large number of wholesalers throughout the region.
Flywheel Coffee Roasters is a family owned and operated specialty coffee roasters and cafe based out of San Francisco. The company was founded by Aquiles Guerrero, who was practically born into the coffee business.
He was born on a Nicaraguan coffee farm, his parents owned a coffee shop in San Francisco, and he has worked as a barista and roaster before he turned 20.
This lifelong relationship with coffee helped Flywheel succeed and grow as a roaster and cafe, and today their coffee bar is a successful and popular San Francisco venue.
Linea Caffe is a San Francisco based specialty coffee roasters and cafe. It was founded in 2013 by Andrew Barnett, who today is the company’s Master Roaster, and one of its co-owners. Barnett has a long history in coffee, starting in 1977 when he began working as a barista and fell in love with coffee.
In 1999 he started roasting his own coffee as Ecco Caffe, a pioneer of specialty coffee roasting on the West Coast. In 2002 he began traveling to origin to meet his producers, being among the first in the industry to do so regularly.
He has also served as judge on the Cup of Excellence program, which works to improve the working conditions and profitability of coffee farming.
Barnett uses his extensive experience and knowledge of coffee to provide the very best coffee experience to his customers and patrons. As such, Linea’s two locations are very popular and successful, and their coffee has won the San Francisco Magazine’s Best Espresso award.
Sextant Coffee Roasters was founded in 2014 by Ethiopian-born Kinani Ahmed, making it the only Ethiopian-owned coffee roaster and retailer in the US.
Ahmed has owned another coffee shop for years before opening Sextant, and as a kid he grew up among traditional coffee growers and roasters. As such, he’s had a lifelong relationship with coffee, which fuels his passion for the field, as well as his expertise in it.
Ahmed uses his connections back in Ethiopia to find the highest quality coffee, produced using the most efficient and sustainable practices.
By combining advanced roasting technology and skills with expertly-grown, responsibly-sourced coffee, Sextant provides an excellent coffee experience for their customers, while helping their farmers and their communities.