On one lovely sunny afternoon in early January, my friend Pamela Palma and I decided to take a coffee break in the backyard of General Store, a quaint little shop in the Outer Richmond located next door to Trouble Coffee. We were taking a leisurely bike ride around the city and around 3 o'clock -- that magic hour that's perfect for a little caffeine boost -- we were both craving some coffee.
As we sat within the quiet walls of that peaceful sanctuary and sipped our drinks, we came upon the idea of creating an extended version of that day's journey: a bicycle tour that visited several of our favorite coffee shops throughout the city. As we're both cycling enthusiasts and devotees of good food and drink, this was the perfect blend of our passions.
We quickly came up with a list that would loop around the city, thus allowing our friends to burn off some caffeine if they chose to indulge themselves at each location: Sightglass Coffee in SOMA; just right around the corner at Mission and 7th Street is De La Paz Coffee at their new location; Blue Bottle Coffee at the Ferry Building Marketplace; Trouble Coffee on Judah and 46th Street near Ocean Beach; Ritual Roasters at Flora Grubb Gardens; and Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission.
We set the date for early April and spread the word to our friends. Folks were encouraged to bring their own mugs and a steel stomach.
On the bright spring morning of the ride, close to 50 folks showed up for our 25-mile excursion. We hadn't warned any of the shops that we'd be arriving en masse, so our arrival felt a bit like a flash mob descending on the baristas. Their lazy Sunday turned into a Monday morning-like rush, but they were happy to accomodate us one drip coffee at a time.
After lingering at Sightglass for an hour, we ended up bypassing De La Paz as they were still renovating their new space. Onwards to the Ferry Building, where people also fueled up with Blue Bottle's delicious caramelized Belgian-style waffles. The energy came in handy as we wove through Fisherman's Wharf, Ft. Mason, zoomed past Crissy Field and climbed up through the hilly Presidio. We spread out along the vast lanes of The Great Highway, which was conveniently closed off for Sunday Streets.
Giulietta Carrelli, the proprietor of Trouble Coffee, greeted us warmly at our third stop and rang up our orders. Folks filled up on their renowned fresh coconut water and thick-sliced toast slathered with cinnamon and butter, peanut butter or Nutella. And of course, we guzzled more coffee as there was still lots of riding on the agenda.
After a much-needed pit stop at a public bathroom on La Playa, we meandered up the long, slow incline of Sloat Avenue, then cut through to Monterey Boulevard. Alemany Boulevard took us down to Hunter's Point, and we soon descended upon Flora Grubb Gardens, a lovely urban oasis located in Bayview. The line for Ritual Roasters was bit shorter, as people were well-buzzed, hungry for dinner and ready to retire for the day. We made an executive decision to end the tour there and Four Barrel would have to wait another time.
Pamela and I were thrilled to discover that we were able to introduce many of our friends to new shops and bike routes within the city. You can try out our route by following the Google Map below. Approximately half of it follows bike paths and streets with bike lanes. It's an intermediate ride with several climbs throughout the city loop, so feel free to reference the San Francisco Bike Map to get approximations of elevation or to plot out an easier course. Be sure to stay well-hydrated, wear a helmet and have fun!
View San Francisco Coffee Ride! in a larger map
Check out more photos from our coffee ride from Pamela Palma's Flickr set.