Great Coffee Near WWDC

If you’re near Moscone West during WWDC and looking for coffee, you might find yourself defaulting to the nearest available option: Starbucks1. If, however, you want something a lot better and a lot more local, there’s no reason to settle for something you’re not crazy about. San Francisco is full of great local establishments. I know of at least three within walking distance I can recommend.

Blue Bottle (0.3 mi)

Right around the corner from Moscone West, there’s Blue Bottle. It’s definitely the place you’ll see the most fussy coffee loving Apple nerds are headed to, partially because its great, and partially because its great. They also have a good variety of other snacks2. On more than one occasion I’ve run into other conference goers while waiting in line who I either knew or didn’t know but was able to start a conversion with. Speaking of the line: it’s usually around the corner. It can be a bit unpleasant when it’s hot out — like it was last year — and although you will meet people in in the line, it’s probably not a great choice if you want to sit down and talk since seating is very limited.

Besides being long, the line actually tends to move pretty fast. If you just want to grab a coffee to go, Blue Bottle is a really good choice.

Sightglass Coffee (0.6 mi)

A little further — but still totally walkable if you’ve got a little time to kill — is my personal favorite place in the city: Sightglass Coffee. The shop itself reminds me a lot of some places here in Portland, and I actually get their beans from a local shop that sells them here pretty often.

When you walk in, the first thing you notice is that it’s surprisingly large. I’m used to things in San Francisco being a little smaller, and Sightglass is the exception. Because of that there’s ample seating upstairs, making it the best place I know of to meet someone if you want to sit down and talk for a while.

You won’t run into as many people from WWDC as you would in the Blue Bottle line, but they make all the same things you’d get Blue Bottle at least as well, and you can actually sit down and relax for a bit.

Philz Coffee (0.9 mi)

Granted, I walk a lot at home, and I’m not attending the actual conference this year, so you may be less willing to walk nearly two miles round trip for coffee than I am. If you do want to explore a bit though, Philz is worth checking out at least once. It’s a chain, but only in the Bay Area. The atmosphere is nearly the opposite as Blue Bottle or Sightlass — more hippy than hipster, and what they specialize in making is a pseudo-pour over in these metal pots I’ve never seen anywhere else. Instead of stating a country of origin, the coffees at Philz have names like “Philharmonic” and “Ambrosia Coffee of God.”

It’s worth checking out for a couple reasons. First, you get to walk by AT&T park to get there, which I recommend. Second, the coffee is surprisingly good and the atmosphere seems like something you’re unlikely to see outside of San Francisco.

Let’s Get Coffee

If you’re the kind for whom half of the fun in a new city is exploring the local coffee culture, San Francisco is a great place to go, and these are just three of a bunch of great options. If you’ve got any suggestions for me, or want to do some exploring, or just want to grab coffee this week, get in touch.


  1. If you like Starbucks and don’t care to try anything else — go ahead, it’s right there, and if you enjoy their products, that’s very convenient for you. 
  2. I’ve usually had good luck finding vegan things here, if that’s a concern for you. 

My One WWDC Prediction

Like everyone else, I have no idea what Apple might announce tomorrow morning. Tim was clearly not blowing steam when he said they were doubling down on secrecy. So here’s my one prediction:

  • Helvetica Neue as the new system font for OS X 10.9.

I was hoping for Myriad Pro — It has similar proportions and I think would fit great as a direct replacement for Lucida Grande that looks better on retina screens, but I’m pretty sure it’s Helvetica Neue.

Which Mobile Battery Pack You Should Buy for WWDC

If you’re attending WWDC next week, the one piece of gear that I think is more essential to getting than any other is getting some kind of mobile batter pack for your phone. No-matter what you do — including not using it — your phone will be constantly running out of battery the entire week. It’s important — and not too late — to get one before leaving, because the local Apple Store is likely to be sold out of all but the crappiest models1. As far as type, there’s three varieties you might come across, and over the past three years I’ve now tried all three.

Dongle Style

Dongle Style Battery Pack

In 2011, I ended up getting one of this style for a good reason — I didn’t buy one before leaving and it was the only kind available at The Apple Store. It seemed practically useless, and was also pretty unwieldy. I’m not sure these are even being made for the iPhone 5, or if you’ll run across it, but if you do avoid this type as it’s going to end up being more trouble than it’s worth.

Case Style

Case Style Battery Pack

Last year, I was at least a little smarter and made a decision on what to get before leaving, and so I bought one of the case style chargers that are probably the most common. I found this style to be a big improvement over what I had the year before, and with the side benefit of being a pretty substantial case2.

It seemed to give me enough power that if I started off the day with both it and my phone fully charged, I could end the day just about running out of battery. It’s also nice, because you don’t need to do anything extra to bring it with you. The disadvantages were that it does make your phone kind of hard to pocket, it’s not enough power to last more than one day and it’s going to be useless once Apple changes the form factor of the iPhone. Because of that, I was only able to use this for a couple months until the iPhone 5 came out, and it’s sat in a drawer ever since.

Brick Style

Brick Style Battery Pack

This year, I sized up and bought a brick style charger. Instead of connecting directly to the iPhone at all, it’s just a brick with two USB plugs on it. It also holds about 5-6 times as much power as the case style charger I had last year, which means that it should theoretically last more than one day if I’m the only one using it3.

It does mean that I’ll have to have something to put it in wherever I go (a lot of people could probably fit it in a front pocket), but I’m likely to have my backpack with me, anyway. It does require bringing an extra cable everywhere I go, but that tradeoff bothers me less than it being worthless to me should the shape of the iPhone ever change. On The Wirecutter’s recommendation, I bought the Satechi Energy Station 10000 for $60 on Amazon (their affiliate link), but I think that any of this style with a similar capacity (10,000 MaH) that you can get before leaving should be fine.


  1. On that note, if you’re attending the actual conference, and bringing a MacBook Air, it’s a good idea to pick up a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter as well, because they’ll definitely sell out of those, and Apple has ethernet available in the lunch/labs area of the conference center. 
  2. Which is useful, because there’s a good chance you’re going to drink too much and drop your phone. 
  3. I think that would be extremely optimistic assumption. On the upside, you’re likely to be the most popular person at the bar.