Coffee shops have long served as places of refuge for those in need of a caffeine jolt and a place to read, get work done, converse, or simply people watch. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has made congregating in cloistered spaces dangerous, boutique coffee roasters and independent cafes have found it harder to move their beans.
Even as San Francisco begins to allow people to enjoy food and drinks on restaurant patios and on socially distanced sidewalk seating, many may prefer to play it safe and enjoy their cup of joe from home.
And although through contortions of logic, one might be able to argue that picking up a bag of beans from Peet’s is shopping local, we believe all you java heads out there can do better than that.
The following local shops and roasters have adapted to public health mandates by encouraging homegrown baristas to try their hand at latte art or perfecting the cold brew method at home with the help of bean subscriptions.
Four Barrel Coffee
This independent and locally-owned coffee roaster normally operates at three locations in San Francisco, but their roasting HQ is working overtime to supply beans to the rest of the Bay Area and beyond. Their subscription process is simple: choose a style, from espresso to single-origin to your favorite type of roast, specify the amount of coffee you want, and how often you want it to show up at your doorstep.
Home Coffee Roasters
Annie Cheng and In Hwan Heo are the co-owners of Home Coffee Roasters, which was founded just a few years back in the Sunset District but has since branched out to Chinatown and the Richmond. Their mission was to create a space that focused on acceptance, compassion, and human kindness, which is evident through their effort to support healthcare workers and first responders with “pay it forward” pastries, coffees, and matcha drinks that patrons can tack onto their coffee bean subscriptions.
Ritual Coffee has been slinging cups of pour-over to techies and hipsters alike since its humble beginnings in the Mission District in 2005. Their coffee is now sold at retail markets across the Bay Area, but their “roaster’s choice” subscription makes getting a different blend at every delivery a breeze. Ritual Coffee is similarly committed to supporting San Francisco’s frontline workers through Ritual for Relief, where patrons can simultaneously support Ritual’s staff and healthcare workers alike through coffee and pastry donations that Ritual delivers to local hospitals.
Sextant Coffee Roasters
Sextant considers itself a specialty coffee roaster in a field that’s already pretty specialized to begin with. Founded by Kinani Ahmed, a first-generation Ethiopian, Sextant’s coffee is sourced directly from farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Columbia and showcases a variety of flavors and blends. Subscribers can choose from four signature blends — the Yirgacheffe Heirloom, Kochere, and Maiden Voyage Espresso blend from Ethiopia, and the connoisseur blend from Columbia — to be delivered in either 8-ounce or 5-pound bags. As an added bonus, all subscription orders save 10 percent.
Andytown Roasting Company
Founded in 2014 by baristas Michael McCrory and Lauren Crabbe, Andytown Roasting is equally committed to great roasts and delicious pastries as it is to the local community. Its Coffee For Heroes program delivers freshly baked pastries and coffee to a rotating list of San Francisco hospitals, which can be tacked onto any bi-weekly coffee bean subscription order. With three signature roasts, a single origin, and a decaf blend to choose from, there’s something for everyone.
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters are all about sustainability and quality in coffee beans, sans frills. Co-founded by coffee industry veterans Trish Rothgeb (director of coffee) and Nicholas Cho (head barista), the duo take coffee seriously and their credentials make that clear. Rothgreb is licensed Q-Grader and credentialed Q Trainer by the Coffee Quality Institute and was a founding member of the Barista Guild of America; Cho served as director of the Barista Guild of America’s Executive Council, on the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Board of Directors, on the World Barista Championship Board of Directors, and as the chair of the United States Barista Championship. They boast five different coffee roasts, including specialty roasts from Ethiopia and Guatemala, a house and decaf blend, and a standalone espresso blend.
Founded by Ritual Coffee alum Kevin Bohlin in 2013, Saint Frank’s Coffee philosophy is all about socially connecting over sustainable coffees sourced mainly from Central and South America and East Africa. While social connection is on pause for the time being, access to Saint Frank’s small-batch coffee isn’t. Their six signature roasts — including a decaf blend — are available as a weekly or monthly delivery subscription offered at 20 percent off.