Cafes are popular places for people to spend their time. Lots of people order coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) and camp out with their laptops, taking advantage of the free WiFi that many cafes offer to their customers. A cafe is also a great place to read, draw, study, socialize, wait for a friend, etc. If you spend long stretches of time in cafes, be sure to buy often and tip your baristas well in exchange for the prime real estate you're enjoying.
Cafes often host local artists' work, and some have open mic nights and other events.
Most cafes sell pastries to complement the drinks, and many even offer vegan options!
The Mission and the Haight are particularly rife with cafes.
Some of the cafes also roast their own coffee.
History in SF
A 1980 article in Pacific magazine says "There was a time when North Beach was the only source of espresso for San Franciscans and visitors to this fair city. Times have changed and since 1978 more than fifteen cafes serving this strong, tasty brew have opened in neighborhods throughout the city...When the "Beatniks", who had populated North Beach during the 50's moved to other neighborhoods, they carried the tradition of espresso with them. By the early 60's coffeehouses began appearing in San Francisco's neighborhoods." Caffe Trieste, opened in 1956 in North Beach, may have been the first European-style espresso cafe; "James Freeman, owner of Oakland boutique roastery Blue Bottle Coffee Co., recalls having some of his first espresso at the original Caffe Trieste. "We have to give them a lot of credit for introducing people to espresso drinks," he says. "They did a lot of the heavy lifting.""
The 1980 Pacific magazine continues: "An example of an espresso cafe which opened recently in the neighborhoods is Cafe Denise. This cafe opened on January 1, 1980 at 3214 16th Street near Guerrero. The owner, Denise D'Anne lives in this Inner Mission neighborhood and was encouraged to open the cafe by many of her friends who felt a cafe would be wonderful for this changing neighborhood. Victorians are being painted here, rents rising and more and more specialty shops opening. Denise is a dedicated, committed lady who is working hard with community groups whose goal is to further the upgrading of this neighborhood without losing the people who live in it."