Saint Frank Coffee, Menlo Park

A cappuccino, made with Saint Frank Coffee's Little Brother house blend, served in a proper cup with some lovely latte art.I came to know Saint Frank Coffee, roaster and purveyor of very fine coffee, from its long-time home on Polk Street in Russian Hill. This was my last stop on my last day in San Francisco when I visited in 2017, at the end of The Grand Adventure. It therefore seems fitting that my first stop on my current trip was also Saint Frank Coffee, albeit out in Menlo Park.

These days there are four Saint Franks, including the original, a long-standing coffee shop on the Facebook campus (not open to the public), a pop-up bakery/coffee shop, also on Polk Street in San Francisco, and this one, which opened in 2019. Across the road from the Caltrain station, it’s the sort of coffee shop that could only really work in a place with the Bay Area’s climate, since the only seating is outside on the large, shady terrace.

When it comes to coffee, which is all roasted in-house, there’s the seasonal house blend, single-origin and decaf on espresso, plus two choices on batch brew filter, with a third on iced filter. Finally, there are four options, including a decaf, on pour-over, plus a small range of pastries if you’re hungry.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Saint Frank Coffee, as seen approaching along Alma Road.
  • The buiness part of the coffee shop is this tall, single-storey building on the left.
  • It's quite narrow at the front, but extends all the way to the back of the lot.
  • All the seating is outside on the lot, starting with a group of tables at the back...
  • ... with a second group at the front on the right, behind which is a small, bushy tree.
  • The second group of tables (seven in all) seen from in front of the coffee shop.
  • ... and seen here from the back. It was very busy, so I couldn't get many shots.
  • This was my table, one of the group of five at the back, next to the coffee shop.
  • Most of the tables are in the shade of either the trees or the parasols.
  • If you're wondering how close the station is, that's the San Francisco service.
  • Meanwhile, this one is on the other platform, bound for San Jose.
  • The view of Saint Frank Coffee from the platform.
  • To business. You order at the window at the front of Saint Frank Coffee.
  • There's a table with bags of retail coffee to the left...
  • ... and a price list on the counter to the right.
  • There's also a selection of coffee kit in the window behind the price list.
  • You place your order in the window in the middle.
  • The drinks menus are in the window to the right.
  • There's the hot drinks menu...
  • ... and the current choice of pour-over coffee.
  • The single-origin espresso & batch brew filter choices are on a clipboard on the counter.
  • Finally, there's a selection of pastries from The Midwife and The Baker.
  • A view of the Black Eagle espresso machine, seen through the main window.
  • Once you've ordered, go around to the side to pay and collect your coffee...
  • ... passing the espresso machine on the way.
  • The view through the payment/collection window. Those are Seraphim brewers.
  • I, however, was after espresso, starting wtih a cappucino, made with the Little Brother...
  • .... house blend, served in a proper cup with some lovely latte art.
  • I paired this with the last mango and coconut Danish pastry, then went back...
  • ... for a shot of the guest espresso, served with a glass of water (still or sparkling).
  • I'll leave you with my espresso in its tall, tapering cup.
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Saint Frank Coffee is on the other side of the street from the northbound (San Francisco) platform of the Menlo Park Caltrain station, which is great if you like watching the trains come and go, although they do make quite a lot of noise. However, its proximity to the station makes it a great place to get your morning coffee before jumping on the train, and an easy enough place to visit, Menlo Park being about two-thirds of the way along the line between San Francisco and San Jose.

Saint Frank occupies a wide outdoor lot, set back from Alma Street, with the station on the other side. The lot is bounded by a large, modern, office building on the right, and an open-air parking lot to the left, while the front is open to the street. There’s a standalone, single-storey building to the left, with the seating occupying an L-shaped area to the right, shade provided by several trees and parasols.

The operation is fairly simple, with the narrow front of the building facing the street/station. You order here at a central window, with the menu to the right and a table holding retail bags of beans to the left. You then go around to the right-hand side of the building, to another window about a third of the way, where you pay and collect your drinks when they’re ready

The seating consists of 12 round three- or four-person tables with green metal chairs (although you can always rearrange the chairs according to your needs). These are arranged in two groups in the large space to the right of Saint Frank. One group of five is towards the back of the space, next to the building, with the space immediately to the right of the collection window left open. The remaining seven at the front, but on the other side of the lot, behind which is a small, bushy tree which provides shade to some of the tables at the back.

For somewhere that is essentially an outdoor coffee shop, Saint Frank is very well equipped with free Wifi, while there’s also a toilet at the back of the building (get the key from the window). Best of all, for a country with a coffee culture obsessed with throw-away cups, everything is served in proper cups or glasses, if you’re sitting in (well, technically out). The range of coffee is also impressive, with three choices on espresso, two on batch brew, one iced filter and five pour-over options.

The original Saint Frank is famous for its modular espresso machine, a precursor to the likes of the Modbar and Mavam systems. Here the equipment is more standard, but no less impressive, with a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine, while pour-over is made using Kalita Wave filters on the Curtis Seraphim automated system.

I started off with a cappuccino made with the Little Brother house blend, the milk and coffee combining to provide a rich, smooth drink with classic chocolate notes. I paired this with a large mango and coconut Danish pastry from The Midwife and The Baker, which was very tasty.

I followed this up with a shot of the single-origin espresso, the Giku Hill Natural from Burundi. Served in a tall, tapered cup, this was a lovely, rich shot, complex and well-balanced, with just a touch of bitterness, the perfect reintroduction to Saint Frank.

1018 ALMA STREET • MENLO PARK • CA 94025 • USA
www.saintfrankcoffee.com +1 415 881 8062
Monday 07:00 – 16:00 Roaster Saint Frank (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 16:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 16:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 16:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 07:00 – 16:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 17th July 2022

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