Tips From a Caffeine Pro: Best Java Spots to Stop for Coffee on Your Morning Bike Ride
Since caffeine is pretty much the only doping still allowed by the Union Cycliste Internationale, I decided I'd go ahead and put together this quick guide to some of the best coffee spots to stop during, before, and after a ride.
This list is less based on science and more on my passion for my coffee and bikes. However, there were two prerequisites for making the list: Good visibility so you keep an eye on your steed, or indoor bike parking, since no roadie would carry a lock in their kit. Oh, and the coffee had to be damn good.
Rapha Cycle Club
Where: 2198 Filbert St (between Webster and Fillmore)
Starts caffeinating at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at 8 a.m. on Sundays.
Perfectly positioned for a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, Rapha Cycle Club is one of the only storefronts in the country for the chic English cycling clothing maker. That means you can splurge on some new arm warmers if the morning is colder than you expected. The café is equally top-of-the-line, serving Four Barrel Coffee and baked goods from Starter Bakery. The only thing that would keep your bike out of the café is shame that your stem doesn't match your seat post.
Pro-Tip: Club rides with a no-drop policy leave every Saturday at 8 a.m. so if you're looking to dive into road cycling this is the way to do it. Also a great spot to get up early and watch the pro-tour.
Cro Café and Doughnut Dolly
Where: Temescal Alley (off 49th between Telegraph and Clarke)
Cro Cafe starts caffeinating at 9 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday and Doughnut Dolly opens at 8 a.m. and closes down when the doughnuts are gone.
These two neighbors in Temescal Alley make an ideal stop on the way out to the East Bay hills. While Cro might not be the spot for a long coffee date, they pull a good shot of Sightglass and some benches to hang out on. Doughnut Dolly around the corner serves filled-to order doughnuts Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until they're gone. It's worth noting that after you eat these delicious pastries, you might agree that there's no better energy bar sold in the Bay Area.
Pro-Tip: Also, in Temescal Alley is Standard & Strange, the storefront location of Cedar Cycling. You can ditch your loud charity ride kit covered with corporate logos for a minimal, locally made, merino wool jersey.
Mojo Bicycle Café
Where: 639 Divisadero St. between Grove and Hayes.
Starts caffeinating at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday (the bicycle shop opens later)
Both a coffee shop and a bike shop, this NOPA spot is a one-stop shop for cyclists on their way to the Marin Headlands. They serve Ritual and De La Paz beans, and you can pick up a spare tube or patchkit while you wait for your drink. If you like to have downers with your uppers, they also serve alcohol -- beer, wine -- which you can soak up with real food. You fair-weathered cyclist might find yourself ditching out on your planned ride to spend the day here.
Pro-Tip: Friendly mechanics in the back can cure that creak or clack, and give you tips on anything bike related while you wait. While this might not be on the way to every ride, it's a good place to take care of all your errands at once.
When: Varies by location.
Blue Bottle made the list because it offers so many bike-up coffee spots it's ridiculous. Find them at the farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, at the DMV in Temescal on Sunday mornings in Oakland, and at the Berkeley Farmers Market on Saturday. The original garage kiosk at 315 Linden St. in Hayes Valley is open every day, from 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. on the weekends.
Pro-Tip: For more than just a caffeine kick, try the New Orleans-style Iced Coffee. Chicory, milk, and simple syrup make this the kind of energy drink you'll need to stay with the pack. Also, most of the bike-convenient locations are cash only so come prepared.
Where: 270 7th St. between Howard and Folsom.
Starts caffeinating at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. on Sunday
The go-to SOMA startup coffee stop is this cavernous multi-floor roaster / café / temple of third-wave coffee. Add your bike to the pile in back, check out wholesale to see who else is drinking the coffee, and eavesdrop on the conversations that are inevitably centered around hideous amounts of money.
Pro-Tip: Your whole group ride could easily fit into the space, and probably find a seat most of the time. Good for lunch-hour loops around the city.
Where: 375 Valencia (and round back on Caledonia)
Starts caffeinating 7 a.m. every day (the alley is open on the weekends at 9 a.m.)
Four Barrel is another large roaster shop bearing the standard for buzzworthy and buzzwordy artisanl beans. There's no parking inside, per se, but you're probably not going to get murdered for waiting in line with your bike and then dragging your coffee out to the parklet, if you can find a spot. Chances are you can ask one of the other dozen porch-sitters out front to keep an eye on your bike.
Pro-Tip: What might really put Four Barrel on this list, other than very impressive coffee, is Alley Barrel, the walk-up stand in the alley at the back of the roastery. It's only open on the weekends, but usually the lines are much shorter, and you can typically get some single origins that might not even be available up front, while keeping a close eye on your bike.
So there you have it, your list of top coffee shops where you can pedal up and douse yourself with some drip before hitting the road again.
Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He's can be spotted dragging himself up a hill -- literally and metaphorically.