Hello all!  I am going to the Bay for Christmas to visit my family, and I was looking for some suggestions on shops we should visit!  I love visiting other shops and seeing what everyone else has going on (and geek out with other baristas!)  Let me know names and addresses!  Thanks!

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Hi Jessica, have fun with the visit, a few of my favorites, I am sure there are many more just haven't got to them yet, enjoy and happy holiday's

San Francisco:

http://sightglasscoffee.com - my top pick currently

http://fourbarrelcoffee.com/

http://ritualroasters.com/

http://www.graffeo.com/

http://www.bluebottlecoffee.net/

http://www.philzcoffee.com/

Santa Cruz:

http://www.vervecoffeeroasters.com/

San Jose:

http://www.barefootcoffee.com/

Hey Jessica, Ted more or less covered San Francisco, so I'll clue you in on the East Bay (where I live) in Oakland/Berkeley.

Since you're visiting, and thinking you might want an interesting cultural experience to go with your coffee, my top choice is going to be cafe Mediterraneum (http://www.caffemed.com/) on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley.  I'm going to recommend some better places for pure coffee experience, but if you're in Berkeley, you've got to go here.  The espresso is quite good (coffee from Barefoot) and you'll most likely get latte art, but the reason I recommend it for visiting, is it's been around since the 50's and boldly claims to be the originator of the Latte.  This claim is backed by wikipedia, for whatever that's worth.  And it sticks to its beatnik traditions:  You'll see poets and artists and UC Berkeley students, aging hippies who were there for the free speech and civil rights movements, there will be some harmless crazy people and gutter punks and anarchists and professors...but the main reason I like it is directly across the street is one of the last great bookstores in the US, a 4 story tall used and new book monolith that has also been around since the 50s (Moe's books), and on the same block, Amoeba Records, a huge awesome record store, and if you can't find the music you're looking for there, one block away is Rasputin Records, which is essentially the same thing.  Then there are also a lot of great restaurants and bars (the "Asian Ghetto" is on Durant/Telegraph, and it's where you want to go for Thai, Indian, and Japanese food.  Called Asian Ghetto because North Berkeley is home to the Gourmet Ghetto which is where the  really expensive fancy food is.  e.g. Chez Panisse).  Anyway, Telegraph is like the Haight/Ashbury of the East Bay, and Mediterraneum has delicious coffee and interesting atmosphere.

Now, if you just want mind-blowint coffee, you have to go to Oakland.  I could give you a list, but I'll just tell you my top places to go.  Remedy Cafe http://remedyoakland.com/ in the Temescal district is awesome.  This is also in a cool area, a little more hipsterish than the Med, with amazing drinks, cool atmosphere, homemade pastries, Ritual Coffee, and great food and drink all around it.  It's not in downtown so it's quiet and artsy/neighborhood-y.

And if you want to check out downtown Oakland, Modern Coffee  is the place to go.  They serve a combination of Four Barrel, Verve, De La Paz, and Sightglass coffees.  They're at the base of the Oakland Tribune Tower right in the heart of downtown. 

Agree with Ted that Sightglass is top choice for San Fran Coffee.  And also if you'll be around after the 1st of Jan. you can see the opening of Alchemy Collective Cafe, which is on border of Oakland/Berkeley ("my" shop).  We serve Verve Coffee, and we're the first worker-owned specialty cafe.  Your drink will be on me if you can make it :)

You know I would of agreed with you both 2 weeks ago if you asked me where my favorite coffee in the city was. I would of instantly answered sightglass. But because coffee is an ever changing beast, and blends change, origins change, baristas change, etc. Today I had a shot of espresso from Hayes valley blue bottle, and it was the best shot from there ever, and the best shot ive had in months(inculding the espressos ive had at sightlglass last week). Plus im starting to feel like sightglass might have a "no enjoying life clause" in there contract. Because my last few visits, no one, and i mean no one was smiling or having a good time. I realize everyone has bad days, but I hate how some specialty coffee has become this place where few enjoy themselves. 

(mini rant over)

My new favorite place for out right coffee nerdom and excitement, is Epicenter coffee. They use barefoot. Which is still great(at least for the time being). And the owner Mark, is obviously excited about coffee. Which is so refreshing(to me anyway).

So I guess my point is two fold, one it really depends on the day/week/month which place is putting out the best espresso or what-have-you. Maybe ask once your here, your here you could ask again. Because in that short time things, may have changed.

(mini rant starts again)

Today I was at the Ritual Hays valley and they had 2008 world latte art champion pouring lattes for coffee kids. And the workers there didnt seem excited at all, I was smiling the whole time. How could you not! Hiroshi Sawada was super nice, and obviously pours mind blowing latte art. Why are so many people in specialty coffee not excited about it.

Side note(I was at the Ritual on valencia the other day and the guy doing pour overs was super nice, and excited about what he was doing.)

Yep, Sightglass is great, you can sit upstairs and just watch them work their magic. Ritual Coffee I think had a great SOE, super sweet! Fourbarrel is off the wall busy and worth checking out. Their brew bar is very impressive. Blue Bottle in Oakland is good, the one in the mint is okay. 

Thanks everyone!  I hope I get time to check out a few of these!

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