It's officially a yearly caffeinated tradition; my friend Pamela Palma and I led our 3rd Annual Coffee Ride through the streets of San Francisco yesterday. Close to 50 other coffee-loving cyclists met us at 10AM at Stanza Coffee Bar, our first stop in the Mission.
Everyone filled up their coffee mugs and fueled up with pastries to jumpstart their 30-mile jaunt around the city. By adding more miles and hill climbs, we had designed a more challenging route for this year's group -- including a scenic mid-ride stop on Twin Peaks.
I'd be visiting all of the spots on our schedule for the first time, so I was really excited about exploring these latest additions to the city's ever-evolving coffee community. And several folks mentioned that they'd be biking in areas or checking out cafes they hadn't heard of before; it's always a pleasure to introduce our fellow cyclists to new destinations as well.
Stanza serves up an eclectic selection of coffees from around the world as well as some unique domestic offerings such as Blacksmith Espresso from Quills Coffee in Louisville, KY.
Along with their sidewalk seating and tables in the main cafe, they also have a lovely patio out back for their patrons.
At about 11AM, we headed east towards the Bayview / Hunters Point neighborhood. Tucked away on Yosemite Avenue off of 3rd, Trouble Coffee now has a second outpost in another remote locale. It radiates the same quaint charm and vintage decor as its Outer Sunset predecessor and most of its popular menu items: thick-sliced buttery toast topped with peanut butter, cinnamon or Nutella and and fresh baby coconuts. Giulietta Carrelli, Trouble's irrepressible owner, was manning her cozy coffee nook solo. She greeted our large, thirsty crowd by solemnly announcing she'd be 'making no lattes' as she'd survived a rough mountain bike crash just the night before. "Just drip coffees for all of you -- and tons of toast!" she said with a mischievous grin. But as her shop's motto is, "We serve guts and honor," she graciously prepared one of her delicious lattes upon request.
Energized with Trouble, it was now Twin Peaks time. We wound our way through the various neighborhoods of Crocker Amazon, Balboa Park, Monterey Heights and St. Francis Wood to reach the top.
After taking in the gorgeous views of San Francisco from the summit of Twin Peaks, we headed west towards the Pacific Ocean. Situated just above the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House, Lands End Lookout Cafe is nestled inside the relatively new visitor center that opened last spring. While the Peerless Coffee they brewed didn't earn glowing reviews from our finicky group, the sandwiches, soups, salads and warm cookies consumed during our lunch stop received plenty of compliments.
Eager to leave the chilly seaside fog and return to some sunshine, we were luckily welcomed back into the warm weather in the Marina when we arrived at Dynamo Donuts' cute little kiosk on the eastern edge of Crissy Field.
Unfortunately, by the time our group showed up, they were all out of donuts. So Pamela and I made an executive decision to skip the last two cafes in North Beach -- Beacon and Reveille -- and get our sugar fix at Stella's Pastry and Cafe for tiramisu and other Italian delights.
Relaxing in North Beach with cappuccino and an assortment of desserts was a fine way to end our long day of caffeinated adventures. We'll be back in the East Bay next spring for ride number four!