Bay Area/ San Francisco
Published on May 04, 2015
'Hole In The Wall' Fosters Sense Of Community With Sidewalk CoffeePhotos: Jacob Mullins

Zac Green, owner of Hole in the Wall coffee, knows a thing or two about creating conversations in North Beach. From his 20-square-foot sidewalk coffee shop at 524 Union St. (between Stockton and Grant), he’s created a space that nods to the social history of North Beach coffee culture, but is conceived to serve local residents and passersby as they bustle to and from home, work and activities.

“North Beach has lots of good coffee places, but I wanted to open the doors to create coffee and conversation among the community,” says Zac. “I wanted a place to facilitate conversations on the sidewalk between locals and visitors, people walking dogs and just people passing by.”

Since opening in March 2013, customers have connected on the sidewalk, resulting in newly-formed friendships among next-door neighbors, job and business opportunities, and even wedding invitations. 

"After living in North Beach for seven years at the time, before going to Hole in the Wall, I knew maybe half a dozen other people in the neighborhood," said Jeff Peterson, a North Beach resident, local business owner and a Hole in the Wall regular. “Now, I know 60 or more people from around the neighborhood, I see them around and we stop to catch up. Hole in the Wall has been a real added value to my life and the neighborhood ... I even got rid of my home coffee maker!”

Zac’s set-up is a window containing four ceramic pour-over funnels, which he uses to brew three roasts of locally produced Reveal Coffee, which include a choice of milks and either regular- or vanilla-infused simple syrup, both of which are homemade. Hole in the Wall also has a selection of loose leaf teas produced by SF Herb Company and two specialty coffee drinks: a home-brewed 12-hour slow drip iced coffee and a mocha which is anchored by a blonde roast pour-over with spiced cocoa and your choice of almond or whole milk.

Passersby not looking to caffeinate can also snag a whole coconut's worth of coconut water and nurse away the effects of one too many Fernets the night before.

Two bar stools and one wooden high-backed chair are the sole furniture fronting the coffee window—the transitional space and sparse accoutrements are by design. “I want you to get something of quality, but also get a pause in your day," said Zac. "For the brief four or five minutes while I grind and brew the coffee it forces people to communicate and actually talk to each other."

Visit Hole in the Wall Coffee at 524 Union St. Hours are 7am–noon Monday and Tuesday, 7am–4pm Wednesday through Friday and  8am–4pm Saturday and Sunday.