A comparison of SoMa coffee shops from a Cafe au Lait’s perspective

Starting week three of my maternity leave, my new daughter, Aiza, and I would take a walk each morning. Partly to get her out of the house to learn and see the world, but mostly to inject me with caffeine and sustenance to get me through the day.

Donned with her stroller, we would discover new places in San Francisco for us to indulge and people watch. We chatted with enthusiastic strangers, sampled different breakfast options, and even ventured out in the rain a few times at Aiza’s persuasive insistence (essentially crying and wailing until I put her in her car seat).

Now that I’m going back to work tomorrow, I thought I’d share some of our experiences exploring the SoMa coffee shop world and our opinions of them. Enjoy!

Sightglass Coffee

Score: A-

Cost: $3.50 the first time, $4 the second time. They must’ve been confused.

My daughter and I often walked to the Ferry Building on Tuesdays specifically for this stand. The cafe au lait was good, but going forward I would just get the delicious iced coffee. If I’m going to spend $4, I might as well order their best thing. And that iced coffee is quite a treat.

She agrees with me.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Score: D

Cost: $4.50

I was so irritated when I heard the price. Luckily my credit card got declined and I snuck away unscathed to the Four Barrel stand (for the sake of my pride, it was declined for fraud protection).

For the purposes of this post, I did go back and try their cafe au lait so I could grade the experience appropriately. From my score, you can see I was not impressed.

Four Barrel Coffee

Score: C

Cost: $4.00

Four Barrel replaces Sightglass at the Ferry Building’s farmers market on Thursdays. Coffee was okay, nothing exciting.

I don’t go to the Ferry Building for coffee on Thursdays anymore.


Score: C

Cost: $4.50

We almost couldn’t find it because the place is tucked into a corner of a startup office/innovation hub thing. Their coffee is actually very tasty and you even get to choose where your beans come from (so exciting!), but I probably won’t be back. The price and awkward sitting area are no-go’s for Aiza and me.

Crossroads Cafe

Score: B

Cost: $1.95

Sure, it also tastes like the more economical choice, but when you’re up in the middle of the night every few hours with a newborn, your quality bar drops a few notches. Plus, the location is right on the water with spacious inside and outside areas for enjoying your beverage and microwaved eggs.

Ok, I’m not selling this well, but I like Crossroads enough to go back more than once.

My mom and Aiza (3 weeks old) enjoying the magazine section at Crossroads.

Epicenter Cafe

Score: A

Cost: $3.25

This is a good one. Large space for maneuvering a stroller, yummy, affordable coffee in cute mugs, the friendly woman at the counter who remembered me after just my second visit. What else could I ask for in a coffee shop?

I think they microwave their eggs too, but since it’s hard for me to tell, we leave the score as is.

Réveille Coffee

Score: A+!

Cost: $3.50

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the winner. New in Mission Bay, this beautiful spot has plenty of room for Aiza’s stroller, sells amazingly delicious coffee, and the attentive staff takes care of me. The eggs are buttery (I’m 99.9% positive they’re not microwaved), the toast is soft and light, the biscuits and gravy are vegetarian. There’s even outdoor seating for the few warm days we see in SF.

Ahhh, we love this place.

It is no easy task to make coffee art with a cafe au lait, my friends.

Aiza and I visited a few other coffee shops during our daily excursions, but these are the highlights. Hope this helps guide you on your next pursuit for a lovely, caffeinated morning in SoMa!



West coaster who loves menus, beaches, and great stories.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store