Linea Caffe

The Linea Caffe sign, from my visit in April 2019, with the words "Linea Caffe S.F" written in white in a cursive script on a red, circular background.I’m indebted to my friend Karen for introducing me to Linea Caffe, which we paid a flying visit to on my previous visit to San Francisco in April 2019. Sadly I didn’t have time to do a write up, so on my equally brief return to San Francisco last week, I made a point of calling in for a more extended visit.

Located in the heart of The Mission, there’s not a lot to Linea Caffe, just a small, near cube-shaped, sunny, corner spot with windows on two sides and a massive L-shaped counter inside, which leaves space for a single, two-person wooden bench and not much else. Indeed, there’s far more seating outside, where a similar bench is joined by six small, round tables down the side of Linea Caffe.

Linea Caffe, which roasts all its own coffee, has a concise espresso-based menu using a seasonal blend plus decaf, backed up with a single-origin on batch brew. If you’re hungry, there’s a small range of cakes and pastries, including savoury options, from Neighbor Bakehouse.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery (all pictures from 2020 unless otherwise specified).

  • On 18th Street in The Mission, it's Linea Caffe (regardless of the writing up top!).
  • The front is almost all glass, with the door on the right-hand side.
  • In case you were confused by the writing above the window, here's a handy sign.
  • This, by the way, was the view on my first visit in 2019.
  • Linea Caffe extends along San Carlos St, where you get this view coming the other way.
  • There's another large window on this side, making for a very bright store!
  • The view from the opposite side of the steet (San Carlos Street, that is).
  • There are a handful of small, round tables under the window, alternating red and green.
  • The seating, however, extends along San Carlos Street beyond the back of the store.
  • There are six tables in all, each with one or two matching chairs.
  • The view in through the window, the front part of which is open to the street.
  • An alternative to the tables down the side is this solitary bench on 18th Street.
  • Let's go in, shall we?
  • The opening times are on the door, by the way.
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door, where Linea Caffe is dominated by its counter.
  • There's pretty much nothing on the right-hand side, other than the window.
  • This was permanently open during my visit. You could use the window as a stand-up bar.
  • Next comes the counter, which runs along the full width of the store at the back.
  • Meanwhile, there's a stainless-steel kitchen counter on the left-hand side.
  • And here we are, back at the front of Linea Caffe.
  • If you want to sit inside, this solitary bench by the door is the only seating.
  • Down to business. This is the view of the counter as you approach from the door.
  • It's dominated by the new La Marzocco KB90 espresso machine. Shiny!
  • There are some retail shelves on the back wall, along with a handy 'order here' sign.
  • Linea is very proud of this special microlot from Brazil.
  • There's more information about the coffee (and Linea) on these cards in the window.
  • The full range of Linea's coffee is for sale next to the till.
  • On the other side of the till are these cakes and pastries, including some savoury items.
  • The drinks menu is displayed on top of the cakes and pastries.
  • On my first visit with Karen in 2019, I had a cortado, served in this glass.
  • Another view of my cortado and its latte art.
  • On my return last week, I had an espresso, served with a glass of sparkling water.
  • My espresso in more detail.
  • Check out the speckled crema.
  • I'll leave you with my buckwheat financier, which I had with my espresso.
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Andrew Barnett opened Linea in 2013, and it’s occupied the same spot on the corner of 18th and San Carlos in The Mission ever since. It’s a sunny spot, with large windows on two sides and a single door at the right-hand end, facing onto 18th Street. There’s a solitary two-person bench here, to the left of the door, under the first of two windows. However, there’s more outside seating around the corner on San Carlos Street, where six one/two-person round tables stretch out along the pavement beyond the back of the store, alternating in colour between red and green. This is where Karen and I sat on my first visit in April 2020.

Inside, there’s a single wooden bench under the window to the left of the door, separated from its twin outside by the front wall. The remaining space is occupied by the L-shaped counter, although in reality it’s two counters. There’s a stainless-steel catering counter to the left, behind which is an open kitchen, while the heart of the operation is a wooden counter, running the full width of Linea along the back wall, holding the cakes, till, retail bags and espresso machine.

The right-hand wall, meanwhile, is unoccupied, save for two large, sash windows, the first occupying the space between door and counter, while the second is behind/to the right of the counter. The first window, which was permanently open during my visit last week, can be used as a stand-up window-bar (at least, that’s what I did). The lack of any other seating does mean that the interior, with its high ceilings, is remarkably uncluttered.

When Karen and I visited, I had a cortado, served in a glass and made with the seasonal espresso blend. By the time of my return, Linea Caffe had invested in a brand new La Marzocco KB90, which I put into action with an espresso, again using the seasonal blend, pulled commendably short and served in a cylindrical pottery cup.

The coffee went well in milk, producing a smooth drink with classic chocolate notes, while on its own, it was nicely balanced, a smooth, surprisingly dark coffee. I paired it with a buckwheat financier, which was also very impressive, a rich cake, with plenty of body.

3417 18TH STREET • SAN FRANCISCO • CA 94110 • USA
https://lineacaffe.com +1 415-590-3011
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Linea Caffe (espresso + batch brew)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Bench, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 08:00 – 18:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 20th April 2019, 6th January 2020

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