The “sightglass,” as sibling-owned Sightglass coffee explains on its website, is the viewing window on the coffee roaster that exposes the complex and delicate process of roasting coffee. Following that idea, Sightglass works not only to make delicious coffee, but to make the entire process—from sourcing the beans to the final brewing—as visible and fair as possible.
There are three Sightglass spots for you to visit in San Francisco (not to mention the myriad cafés and restaurants that use Sightglass beans): the flagship SoMa location, which is also the roastery and HQ; a newer Mission location; and the Saturday morning farmers' market at the Ferry Building (7 a.m.–2 p.m.)
Both the SoMa and Mission Sightglass stores are open Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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The Cathedral of Coffee
When it comes to a good cup of joe, we're already spoiled here in San Francisco. So when Sightglass Coffee opened in 2011 it raised the already high standard of artisan coffee to another level.
Sightglass occupies a 7,500 square foot warehouse that looks like an industrial coffee cathedral with a massive 1961 Probat roaster as its altar. Yet the ambience here is surprisingly intimate, especially when you sidle up to the edge of the center bar and watch as your order is carefully brewed by one of the knowledgeable and friendly baristas. That feeling is also helped by no WiFi; a purposeful move to encourage conversation and interaction.
I confess to not knowing much about the intricacies of coffee beans and roasting—I'll leave that to the experts and aficionados. All I know is that I rarely drink coffee black and, for me, the Sightglass pour-over coffees are so good on their own I won't think to spoil them with cream or sugar. Does Sightglass brew a perfect cup of coffee? I can't say for sure. But it's pretty darn close.