Best Coffee Klatch: A transcendental visit to North Beach

Caffe Trieste

The Berkeley-vs.-North Beach boho bragging contest has been nonstop since the ’50s. Sure, North Beach is the world capital of long-ago Beat, but Berkeley is where Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl, and its coffeehouse-intellectual scene is second to none. Still, ain’t it grand that SF’s Caffe Trieste, the venerable caffeine corner where Francis Ford Coppola worked on The Godfather and the servers sing arias, opened a branch on San Pablo Avenue? Drop in and join the line for the perfect espresso. All around you, the patrons are discussing Fabianism and the latest political outrage while slurping a breve, a macchiato, an Africano with a shot of Vov, or a glass of Passerini or Sangiovese. Then they take home a pound of Brazil Santos or Colombia Oscuro. The light-filled corner place is trimmed with old-time photos of Papa Gianni, the paterfamilias, who entertains with Italian tunes on selected Sunday afternoons, just like in the Old Country. (We’re talking about the corner of Grant and Vallejo.) Trieste also has live music five nights a week.

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