Sightglass Coffee, Divisadero

The circular Sightglass logo, with the word "Sight" on top, "Glass" at the bottom and a horitonal lightning bolt separating the two.The original Sightglass Coffee Bar & Roastery on Folsom Street was a highlight of my first Coffee Spot visit to San Francisco in 2017. Back then, Sightglass just had one other coffee shop (on 20th Street in The Mission), but it’s since expanded with a shop in Los Angeles and another in San Francisco, in The Haight, on the corner of Divisadero and Page Street. This opened not long after my 2017 visit, but somehow the news had passed me by, so it was completely by chance that I spotted it on the other side of Divisadero while wandering in the neighbourhood.

A large coffee shop, although not as large as the original coffee bar & roastery (which is huge), there’s plenty of seating in the spacious interior, while you can also sit outside on one of four benches which protrude, step-like, from the left-hand side of the shop as it climbs up Page Street. The coffee features Sightglass’s ubiquitous Owl’s Howl blend plus decaf on espresso, while if you want filter, there’s a single option on batch brew along with two on pour-over through the V60. There’s also a selection of cakes and a concise lunch menu.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • A random glance across Divisadero in San Francisco and I spy this handsome building.
  • And what's that on the ground floor? It's Sightglass Coffee! I didn't know it was there!
  • A view from halfway across the street. Check out the to-go hatch to the right of the door.
  • The familiar Sightglass logo standing proud on the corner.
  • There's not much in the way out outside seating, just these four benches on Page Street.
  • The view coming down Page Street. Note the window on the left: we'll come back to it.
  • The broad, double doors are deeply recessed between the windows. Let's go in...
  • ... remembering to pause along the way to check out the mosaic floor.
  • The counter is on the right, ahead of you as you enter, while the seating is on the left...
  • ... starting in the window at the front with a long, narrow table...
  • ... followed by the first of four five-sided tables. The seating is arranged in three bays...
  • ... with the second bay, in the middle, the widest. This has two five-sided tables...
  • ... which are longer and narrower than the one at the front.
  • The third and final bay is at the back, where the fourth five-sided table is like the first.
  • The five-sided, three-legged table in more detail.
  • Finally, at the back, is a more conventional eight-person communal table.
  • Check out the tall ceilings. This window is halfway along Sightglass...
  • ... while this one, at the back, is the one we saw from the outside on Page Street.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • Immediately to the right of the door is the retail selection (with the to-go hatch behind it).
  • There's also more retail, with the seasonal Summer Solstice blend on the counter.
  • The price list, with almost as many blends as single-origins.
  • Next comes the cakes and pastries display...
  • ... with the rest of the counter stretching away beyond that. The section with the tills...
  • ... is at 45°, so they face you as you enter.
  • You'll find the drinks menu here on the counter top...
  • ... along with the lunch menu.
  • Next is the first of two Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machines...
  • ... behind which is the DJ station, complete with turntable and vinyl selection.
  • Let's take a closer look at the Kees van der Westen Spirit. Such a handsome machine.
  • If that wasn't enough, there's a second one on the next section of counter!
  • Finally, towards the back, is the pour-over station, opposite which...
  • ... is a pillar with a small, wrap-around counter acting as a water and takeaway station.
  • I went for a pour-over, the barista recommending this Tanzania Ilomba Cooperative...
  • ... with lots of information on the back. It's Sightglass's first Tanzanian offering.
  • I'll leave you with my coffee in its distinctive, smoked-glass cup.
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Sightglass Coffee is on the ground floor of a beautiful old building on the corner of Divisadero and Page. Dating from 1903, the store has a relatively broad front facing Divisadero, but the secret to its size is that it goes a long way back along Page Street. Meanwhile, the upper floors, which look to be apartments, have elegant, projecting bay windows. Wide double doors are recessed in the middle, flanked by two sets of three tall, elegant windows. On the right, the middle window is a to-go hatch, a short, wooden shelf to the left, allowing you to order without setting foot inside, although if you do, you’ll be missing out.

If you do go inside, be sure to pause on the threshold, look down and admire the mosaic floor. Carrying on, you enter a single large room, almost as tall as it is wide and about twice as deep. The seating is on the left, while the irregularly-shaped counter is on the right, the till ahead of you. A long, central aisle between the seating and the counter has been kept clear all the way from the door to the steps down to the restroom at the back.

Although the building is old, the interior is a modern refit, with plain, plastered walls and ceiling, along with a tiled floor. While smaller than the original Sightglass Coffee Bar & Roastery, it has a similar sense of space. It lacks a mezzanine, although it could easily accommodate one above the seating on the left, which is arranged in three bays running front-to-back. Each bay has two fixed tables of various sizes/shapes, seating provided by a combination of benches (most with padded backs) and low stools.

The first bay has a long, thin five-person table, seating provided by a bench that runs under the window. Opposite that is a five-sided, five-person table, seating provided by a padded sofa-bench which runs along the front of the middle bay. This is the widest, with a symmetrical padded sofa-bench running around all three sides, enclosing two long, five-sided tables which mirror each other.The third bay mirrors the first with a five-sided, five-person table, seating provided by a padded sofa-bench against the back of the middle bay. Beyond this, in the corner, is a large, square communal table with eight low stools. A nice feature is that all the tables have hooks on their legs where you can hang bags, etc.

The counter starts immediately to the right of the door with a large retail section, followed by the cakes and pastries. It then projects into the space by 45°, where you’ll find the tills and lunch menu, before straightening out to house the first of two Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machines (the third/fourth I seen that day, having already visited Spro Coffee Lab and Verve). The second Spirit is on the next section of counter, with ducks in at 45°, before straightening out for the last stretch, home to the pour-over station, with the open food preparation area beyond that. There’s also a pillar opposite with a small, wrap-around counter acting as a water and takeaway station, plus a sunken tray for dirty dishes.

After a day of espresso, I wanted pour-over, with a choice of a Tanzanian or Rwandan single-origin. I took the barista’s recommendation (Tanzania), which was served in a distinctive, smoked-glass cup. A rich, full-bodied coffee, quite different from the lighter roast single-origins I typically enjoy, I really liked it, especially as it cooled, when the flavours matured. Suitably recharged, I continued on my way to climb Buena Vista Park.

301 DIVISADERO STREET • SAN FRANCISCO • CA 94117 • USA +1 415 522 0112
Monday 07:00 – 17:00 Roaster Sightglass (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 17:00 Food Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 17:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 17:00 Wifi No
Sunday 07:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain Regional Visits 26th July 2022

If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of San Francisco’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to San Francisco.

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