By Joan Walsh
San Francisco is a coffee city that is ever experimenting in different tastes and trends. While certain drinks come in and out of fashion, these are the best latte drinks to get at the moment.
Sweet Potato Latte – Yakiniq Cafe
The sweet potato latte is a rich delicious concoction that feels like your mom’s sweet potato side dish at Thanksgiving. Made with real sweet potato puree, the latte tastes very thick and flavorful and isn’t as sweet as the similar pumpkin spiced lattes that tend to be just pumpkin flavor sugar syrup.
Located in Japantown, this is great for grabbing and walking around the mall and Japanese Pagoda.
Peanut Butter Latte – Rise and Grind
The peanut butter latte is the only one of its kind in the city at Rise and Grind, a cute little coffee shop right down the street from Golden Gate Park. Pre-covid the shop was overcrowded with people but now it’s takeout only with about 3 tables outside to enjoy. The peanut butter is rich and creamy and tends to sit at the bottom if you don’t stir. Worth noting that this one might taste better with a little sweetener added since the peanut butter makes it slightly more bitter than a regular latte. It’s great to take this to stroll around the park.
785 8th Ave/www.riseandgrind-sf.com
Gingerbread latte – Diamond Coffee
The gingerbread latte is a fancy seasonal treat. Served with a healthy dose of whipped cream and a gingerbread cookie, this drink definitely gets one in the mood for the holidays. Diamond Coffee also serves waffles and savory pastries. It opened fairly recently so everything is brand new and clean. There are 2 locations, the Inner Richmond one is bigger and on bustling Clement Street and the Outer Sunset one location is more residentially located.
1014 Clement St./2575 Judah St./diamondbeans.com
Black Swan (Charcoal) Latte – Spro
The Black Swan has a vibrant black hue from the activated charcoal ingredients. It’s sweetened with honey and Spro was one of the first coffee shops out there to make this latte before its popularity soared and many others followed suit. Spro has a very impressive list of other flavored lattes as well as iced drinks that can rival cocktails. Starting originally as a food truck at Spark Social, Spro has expanded to a shop in the Castro and more recently the Civic Center.
601 Mission Bay Blvd/500 Church St/525 Golden Gate/ sprocoffeelab.com
Ube – Ballast Coffee
For a unique purple coffee drink try the ube latte at Ballast Coffee. The latte is pretty in color and rich in taste. Set on the main drag of West Portal Avenue, Ballast serves up coffee drinks with pastries, empanadas, and mochi muffins from 3rd culture bakery. There is a small patio outside and some outside tables in front. The café is very popular with students.
329 W Portal Ave/ballastcoffee.square.site
Marshmallow – Sisters Coffee Shop
A newcomer to the coffee scene 3 Sisters has locations in the Castro and the Mission. This café is very Instagram-worthy with lots of pink flowers and other foliage on the wall and decorated spots for photos. They also serve pastries and hearty sandwiches. There are many selections for lattes but the marshmallow one is the most unique with roasted marshmallows added into the drink. You can add other flavors to it as well like rose or lavender if trying to do something more complex.
Gloomhaven (black sesame and honey latte) – The Game Parlour
The Gloomhaven sounds and looks dark and gloomy, but this sesame latte has a nice sweet taste with a nutty kick. It’s hit or miss whether you’ll get latte art though. The Game Parlor is a board game café where you can pay $7 to sit and play board games. It’s one of the few cafés that is open late (10pm closing) which is nice for students looking for a non-alcoholic place to hang out.
1342 Irving St/thegameparlour.com
Birthday Cake – Home Cafe
This is the flavored latte place of all latte places. Home has the best selection of beautiful, delectable lattes. I’ve never seen so many creative options with fun garnishings. I’d put many on this list but if I had to pick anything I’d pick the birthday cake latte. The birthday cake one is festive with rainbow colors and sprinkles which gives it a nice pop of color. It is VERY sweet so I wouldn’t recommend this one for people that can’t handle super sweet. Home has 3 locations in the city.
1222 Noriega St/2018 Clement St/455 Grant Ave/homecoffeesf.com
Rose Latte – Delah
The Yemeni coffee shop opened about a year ago in Soma. The rose latte is fragrant and served with edible rose petals. There are middle eastern bites and I’d recommend the rose cake to accompany the latte.
370 4th St/delahcoffee.com
Pumpkin latte in a pumpkin – Avotoasty
The pumpkin latte served in a pumpkin is seasonal during the fall months. It’s such a fun treat to drink the rich flavors of pumpkin in a pumpkin. You can take the pumpkin home afterwards and use it for cooking. This latte is served with a generous helping of whipped cream and garnished with a cinnamon stick. Avotoasty is known for their picturesque toasts and also serves a beetroot and turmeric lattes.
1796 Union St/avotoasty.com