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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

San Francisco's Top Five Coffee Shops

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Page 5 of 5

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1. Four Barrel

Four Barrel starts its bid for the top spot strongly: It has the best beans in town. We credit this to the roasters, because other shops have equally interesting sources, and we like plenty of them, but Four Barrel comes out ahead.

The atmosphere here is great. There are sturdy wooden tables and a few people laptopping at them, but there's also a socializing area outside in the parklet, and the seats at the window sometimes lend themselves to random conversations.

We forgive the baristas for their cooler-than-us attitude because they play actual record albums with great taste, at least if you define taste as albums we used to own. And they can pull a quality shot: We've never had a cappuccino or macchiato here that was overly bitter.

For a place that's really busy, Four Barrel moves fast. Unless the line is out the door, which is rare, we can wait long enough for a cup. Maybe because it's firing on all barrels?

And Four Barrel seems more in tune with its customers than some coffee-geek places. We first discovered this shop when it was hosting a Phone Other States for Obama event -- with free coffee -- prior to the 2008 election, so maybe McCain supporters will prefer to take their coffee elsewhere. We also wandered in one time when an owner was handing out slices of lemon meringue cake from Tartine -- a fave -- to celebrate the store's birthday. Here's hoping for many more.

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W. Blake Gray

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