Owned by Nathan Wyss and Ron Starr, the cafe offers its own house line of various roasts, along with espresso drinks, two different coffee drip methods (Kalita Wave or Chemex), and teas. To eat, there are from Neighbor Bakehouse, waffles from Suite Foods, Nucha Empanadas, and snacks from Sam's Patisserie. And there's free wifi, too.
Wyss explained that opening the SoMa location took nearly two years, thanks to lengthy lease negotiations. But he and barista Zach Cline say it's exciting to have a "clean slate," with a space in the Mosso building designed and constructed just for them.
Cline said he's already been seeing some customers who are regulars at the original Larkin Street location, which opened in 2010, and was named "Best New Cafe" by SF Weekly in 2011.
“Some of our customers kind of follow me," he said. "They live near the Nob Hill location and work in SoMa, so I’ll see some of the same people getting coffee before work ... [The new location] has a very neighborhood-y feel to it.”
Contraband specializes in single-origin, fair-trade coffee sourced from independent farms from around the world, particularly in Guatemala and Colombia farms.
"Source transparency is high on our priority list," says Wyss. "Knowing as much as possible about the pedigree of a coffee is important."
But despite its meticulous sourcing and high-end machinery, the cafe aims for "a casual feel,” said Cline, who recommends the Costa Rica Berlina as a good starter option.
"We don't want to dictate how people should drink their coffee," added Wyss. "We provide the best quality options possible, for each individual to have their coffee any way they please."
For those interested in trying out Contraband's single-origin coffees, the shop will be hosting a free tasting flight at the SoMa location this coming Saturday, January 28th, at 2pm.
Hours for the SoMa location are 6am-8pm on weekdays, 8am-8pm on Saturdays, and 9am-6pm on Sundays. Contraband also sells a selection of its beans, as well as accessories like mugs, on its website.
Thanks to tipster Vanessa G. for the tip.
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