All posts tagged “coffee first

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Handlebar Coffee Roasters

On a trip down to Santa Barbara for the weekend, I mapped a out a couple of cafés I could visit to get my caffeine fix – and to find a little piece of home. Handlebar Coffee Roasters, located on a side street off the downtown strip of State St., was exactly what I was looking for. With locally roasted coffee and a multitude of hot and cold drinks to choose from, as well as the long line looping outside the building, I knew I was in the right place.

While the café wasn’t necessarily large, it had outdoor seating, a large community table, and massive windows where light streamed in. At the counter, Handlebar sells small pastries and snacks, and on a shelf to the right, offers bags of coffee beans and teas, as well as different flavors of chai.

A macchiato for my father, a latte for me, and a hot chocolate for my little sister:



Everyone loved their drinks, and we regretted not coming here again the next day!
A direct quote from my father:

Handlebar > Starbucks (duh.)

Established by two bikers turned coffee roasters, Handlebar couldn’t go wrong! It’s definitely worth the visit and is only a short turn off of State St, downtown.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

128 E Canon Perdido St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

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Flywheel Coffee Roasters

Flywheel Coffee Roasters is in a bit of a hidden spot, densely populated with joggers and cars whizzing by Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle. Located next to Whole Foods in Upper Haight, this large café is a great study spot and break from the craziness of Haight Ashbury.

The inside of Flywheel is large and spread out, with many counters and tables where people can plug in to work or sip coffee with friends. There is also a back patio seating area, and large open windows in the front of the building for sunny SF days. The decor is completely wooden with multiple wheels around the café, creating an almost Blacksmithy vibe with the rustic and antique furniture.

I wasn’t necessarily ecstatic over the coffee or the pastries, which was a small selection, but the cinnamon crumb cake was a great choice out of the few muffins and scones they offered.

The best part was seeing the coffee drip through these lit up orb like machines – it felt like a coffee lab where the drinks were being concocted right there!

 672 Stanyan St
San Francisco, CA 94117

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The Mill

The Mill, located on Divisadero in Hayes Valley, is my favorite cafe North of the Panhandle.

With its large windows and beautiful exposed dark red brick, it’s hard to keep from going inside. The cafe is large and open, with bright lights, window lounging areas, ornately decorated walls and shelves, and an intricately twisted rope structure dangling over the community table.

The Mill is known for their bread and coffee, a combination of Four Barrel Coffee and Josey Baker Bread, who work together to run one of the best cafes in the city. Along with the rich creamy coffee that is brewed by Four Barrel, Josey Baker Bread bakes the most fresh and fluffy bread, with thick crunchy crusts and full of hearty grains. These breads can be bought by the loaves, but are also served as toasts – $4 for a thick slice of toast with your desired topping – all of which are incredibly delicious.

There are usually four kinds of toasts offered:

Dark Mountain Rye Bread with Cream Cheese and Salt & Pepper
Country Bread with Butter and Cinnamon Sugar
Sesame Poppy Bread with Almond Butter and Salt
Bird Bread with Butter, Honey, and Salt

My favorite is the Dark Mountain Rye Bread with Cream Cheese and Salt & Pepper. The cream cheese is made by The Mill as well, and is a thick, rich schmear, with a plentiful helping of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper topped onto this savory toast.

For a sweeter palate, I like the Country Bread with Butter and Cinnamon Sugar, which, while sugary, is not overpowering, and reminds me of a Churro-toast. I love cinnamon, so this is the perfect alternative to go with my latte when I am wanting something sweet.

The Mill was one of the first cafes I visited when I moved to the city, and still remains one of my favorites a year later, along with Jane. The combination of one of my favorite coffee brewers, Four Barrel, with the undeniably delicious toasts by Josey Baker, make for an amazing coffee shop, with the added perk of no wi-fi to force people to enjoy the beautiful company and establishment that they are in and take a break from their tech!

The Mill also serves one-of-a-kind pizzas on Mondays 7-9, made with unique and interesting ingredients (think Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley). I have yet to make it for Pizza Night at The Mill, but will be sure to update when I do!

736 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117

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Alfred Coffee

Alfred Coffee, with multiple locations across LA, embodies everything that the hip coffee shops of San Francisco has.

While the Brentwood location (pictured) is small, there is plenty of outdoor seating and to-go options for coffees and pastries. Their slogan, emulated by many new coffee shops, “But First, Coffee” is splattered across their cups, gift items, and even the wall.

Alfred Coffee has a great selection of pastries, with Farmshop baked scones, croissants, danishes, and muffins (GF too!). They also have pressed juices from The Pressed Juicery, and other small snacks and to-go items.

The coffee itself comes from Stumptown Coffee Roasters (my favorite), so I was already sold before I even tasted it. And for the record, it was perfect with my gluten-free blueberry muffin 🙂

Shoutout to my friend Katie for taking me to Alfred Coffee knowing that I would love it and want to post about it! If you’re in the LA area, Alfred Coffee should definitely be first on the agenda!

11908 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049

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vive la tarte

Viva la tarte has become one of my new favorite bakeries, with healthy competition from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Located on Howard St in Soma, vive la tarte gives off a warehouse/industrial kind of atmosphere, but its wide open interior and pristine set up creates a clean and airy environment.

The large bakery is only one room – with a section of tables, counter seating by the entrance, and stadium-like bench seating on the left, with complete visibility into the actual kitchen area where all the baking and prepping is done. A vintage stereo system sits on one side, and the coffee bar sits across from the food counter, where the pretty pastries wait to be eaten.

While Mr. Holmes Bakehouse has sweet, indulging pastries, vive la tarte is more in the style of Tartine Bakery, where there are sweet and savory options, some which are on the healthier side (and even gluten free options!), others on the exquisite French pastry-esque side.

The pastries and food options differ depending on the time of day – there is always a mixture of sweet and savory, but the morning offers more quiches, while in the afternoon they bring out pizzas and dessert pastries.

I enjoyed a latte (which was amazing) and the Tomatillo and Jalapeño quiche, which had just the right pinch of spice. The foods offered in the morning include Vanilla Donuts, Rum Raisin Donuts, Chocolate Gateau, Raspberry Lemon Tarts, other quiches like the Spinach & Goat Cheese or Lorraine Quiche, as well as the Baked Pancetta Pizza (for breakfast with an egg on it!). All of these items were flavorful and rich, fresh and baked to perfection.

After I was already in love with vive la tarte, at 11AM, they brought out more foods – the lunch menu round 1. This included the SF Cheesecake, Mixed Berry & Vanilla Tart, Apple Tart, Hazelnut Brittle Tart, Creme Brûlée, and a variety of Focaccia Pizzas, including the White Truffle Mushroom Ragout and the Tomato Basil Burrata.

I was already full, but I couldn’t resist splitting the Creme Brûlée with my friends – which I did not regret one bit. The crust was a perfect cup shape and thick enough to almost feel like a plate! The top layer was torched to perfection and the inside was very sweet, a soft pudding like consistency that melted in your mouth.

Vive la tarte may be the prettiest, most photogenic bakery I’ve found in San Francisco with their perfect geometric shapes and the vibrant colors used in their foods. The pastries are beautiful and delicious, classy and tasteful rather than overly sweet belly bombs. It’s definitely going to become a massive hit on Instagram and in the foodie world!

1164 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103   

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Stumptown

On my trip to Portland, I had one place that I HAD to go to. Stumptown Coffee Roasters, while it is served in many cafes and sold in grocery stores, doesn’t actually have it’s own cafe in San Francisco. As this is my favorite coffee brewer,… Read More

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Better Buzz

Life’s Better Buzzed

With their fun slogan, cute interior, and drool-worthy avo-toast, it’s no wonder that Better Buzz has become a hot spot for coffee sipping and brunching in Downtown Encinitas.

As soon as I walked in, I felt like the cafe KNEW me – “Coffee First” are my thoughts exactly every morning. There were many seating options, from loungey to more quiet study corners, and the area was spacious and clean.

Of course, the avo-toast was a must, which came on a fluffy sourdough toast, sprinkled with feta cheese and cherry tomatoes, served with a small cup of arugula with balsamic vinaigrette.

Since I was in Encinitas for the holidays, it was only right to get the Acai Bowl as well, a summertime favorite in this hip beach town.


While I love having a poached egg on my avocado toast, Better Buzz’s feta cheese version was still fulfilling, with an almost Greek twist to the avocado toast (from the feta and the balsamic on the arugula). The toast was softer than the usual Levain toasts from bakeries in San Francisco, which made it easier to eat and less hassle to split up.

The Acai Bowl, filled with vanilla granola, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, honey, and bee pollen, was sweet and fresh, with a large helping of fruits mixed with a good balance of granola.

Their other menu items include sandwiches (egg, ham, cheese, etc) and other variations of toasts, such as Nutella (with strawberries), and different Acai Bowl toppings with healthier twists (hemp granola, etc).

As for drinks, they offer coffees and teas, as well as smoothies and fresh squeezed juices. Better Buzz is known for their “Best Drink Ever,” a classic Americano with their signature creamy vanilla. I’m not sure if it was the best drink I’ve ever had, but it was definitely sweet and delicious! Better Buzz also has various iced and blended coffee drinks, and offer many varieties of sweetness and coffee flavors.

With not many cute, hip cafes in Downtown Encinitas (besides my favorite, Pannikin) Better Buzz is definitely the new go-to spot for coffee and breakfast. If you’re looking for a more artsy/hipster vibe in a cafe, Better Buzz is the place to go!

Go Get Buzzed!

578 S Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024