San Francisco’s Best: Coffee Shops for Business Meetings
Let’s start with an important admission. I am not a San Francisco coffee snob. Single origin? Never had it. Baristas brewing in sciencey beakers? I don’t understand. I am so sensitive to caffeine that I can barely handle a tiny teacup of 30-second-brewed English Breakfast tea laden with milk and honey. We’re not here to judge. While I don’t hunt down the latest roasts, I do hang out with a lot of coffee drinkers. My boyfriend loves his Italian Bialetti Moka Pot, my friends own a coffee truck, and most of my team can’t function in the morning without their first cup of joe. I know how important coffee is to literally everyone but me.
I’ve always been confident in my aversion to caffeine. However, my job in recruitment relies on networking, and in San Francisco, networking and coffee go hand-in-hand. So when I was first met with an enthusiastic “let’s go for coffee!”, mild panic set in. Despite nearly a decade of living in San Francisco, I didn’t know the first thing about coffee. Trials and errors ensued and what I discovered was that there was no point impressing someone by taking them for a great coffee if we couldn’t talk business at the same time. My clients need to know that I know my way around the city, and that I appreciate their needs, and being able to direct them to a decent flat white helps. But meeting a potential client or candidate, or catching up with a colleague, in a noisy coffee bar where we can’t sit down just doesn’t work.
So, here is my tried-and-tested list of the best coffee shops in downtown San Francisco for getting down to business, so to speak. These places will impress your coffee-loving clients. The cafes I’ve included are all easily accessible by public transport, they have lots of seating, they’re quiet-ish, and most of them offer some food options as well. I’ve included non-coffee recommendations for my caffeine-sensitive buddies out there, and I’ve made sure to personally taste-test as many snacks and lunches as I can. You can thank me later.
Bluestone Lane, Front Street
227 Front Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
The first west-coast location from Aussie chain Bluestone Lane is the place for a proper flat white. The space is light, the music is quiet, and the food is healthy, meaning you can really talk over an extended stay.
My caffeine-free recommendation: The turmeric-infused Golden Latte.
Blue Bottle Coffee, 2nd Street
168 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
The 2nd Street branch of Blue Bottle Coffee offers fast coffee and great snacks for those meetings where you need a little respite from the craziness of FiDi. Offering individual tables that can be rearranged, this is a great place for group meetings.
My caffeine-free recommendation: Hot chocolate and a sugar-battered waffle.
Philz Coffee, Front Street
1 Front Street, Annex Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94111
San Francisco native Phil has been selling coffee in the city since the 70s. Often touted as the best coffee in San Francisco, Philz Coffee’s Front Street branch offers indoor and outdoor seating (if you can stand the cold).
My caffeine-free recommendation: Mint tea.
720 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
This French-inspired coffeehouse serves a decent food menu and is a great place for a lunch meeting. It’s very quiet and always full of people working, so you’ll be in good company.
My caffeine-free recommendation: Lemonade.
Joe and the Juice, Montgomery Street
235 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
With (I’m told) surprisingly good coffee for a juice bar, this place plays great music and has a lounge area perfect for team meetings. The Montgomery Street branch also has a quiet upstairs space that is my favourite spot for having confidential conversations.
My caffeine-free recommendation: The Pick Me Up.
Equator Coffee, 2nd Street
222 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Focusing on economic and environmental sustainability, Equator is my favorite place on this list. Not only are their sustainable credentials impressive, the space in the lobby of the LinkedIn building is also impressive. It’s big and open and has community tables perfect for networking conversations.
My caffeine-free recommendation: Cherry limeade.
Don’t need coffee today? I highly recommend Samovar, a tea-haven.
Samovar, Yerba Buena Gardens
730 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
Samovar is a teahouse with an incredible food menu. Perfect for lunch meetings, and for converting coffee addicts to the simple pleasures of teatime.
My caffeine-free recommendation: The whole menu is a coffee-free paradise, but I’d recommend the chai.
Too late in the day for coffee? Check out The Search Experience Co-Founder Natalie’s review of the best San Francisco rooftop bars for entertaining clients.