Sophie’s Got Verve
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By Yi Lu
Cafe Sophie just opened this summer, but the shop, nestled on a quiet stretch of 16th Street between Sanchez and Church, serves up delicious cups of coffee like old pros — with a big assist from Verve Coffee Roasters.
For those unfamiliar with it, Verve Coffee Roasters is an award-winning Santa Cruz-based company that places a premium on quality sourcing and roasting of their beans, but more to the point, makes a fantastically bright and clean cup of coffee.
According to the Cafe Sophie staff, the beans they use are roasted in Santa Cruz on Wednesday, shipped on Thursday, and are ready to be brewed by Friday. If you’re looking for a place to buy fresh Verve beans, Fridays at Cafe Sophie is the place to be.
Cafe Sophie does not offer pour-over coffee, only drip, but they do a good job monitoring the freshness of their brew. Over several visits, I’ve never had a stale-tasting cup.
Nevertheless, the coffee, while fantastic, just doesn’t taste quite like what you can get from Verve’s Santa Cruz locations. Maybe it’s the distance from the surf, or the vibe of the clientele: Think work-from-home tech/hipster culture versus attractive surfer/beach bum culture.
If you happen to visit on one of the few warm days in San Francisco every year, or if you want a drink that you can nurse over the span of a couple of hours to optimize your study-to-dollar index, order the iced coffee, which comes with coffee ice cubes.
I haven’t tried the other drinks on the menu, but my friend had good things to say about the “Honey Monkey,” a sweetened tea steamer. I wouldn’t know, because “tea” and “steam” are two words that I don’t understand in juxtaposition.
Cafe Sophie is a great study spot. I’ve never had a problem finding seating, although I’ve only visited on weekdays. There is a nice assortment of big wooden tables you can share with your new tech-hipster friends, as well as individual tables to hunker down with your coffee and laptop.
There is also some seating outside, but 16th Street in the Castro just can’t match the 16th Street experience in the Mission — bad for people-watching, probably better for quiet work. To further help your productivity, the noise registers at a pleasantly ambient level, and the music is what I would be playing anyway. (Lykke Li à Bon Iver à The Strokes? Yes, please.)
My favorite time to arrive at Café Sophie is after lunch, when the occasional afternoon sun can fill the cafe with so much natural light that you’ll be forced off your glaring laptop to enjoy a contemplative moment with your cup of joe. Come find me at Cafe Sophie sometime and say “Hi,” unless you’re drinking a tea steamer. It would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to drink a good cup of Verve this side of Highway 17.
3463 16th St.
(between Church and Sanchez streets)
San Francisco, CA 94114
7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
8 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday
Yi Lu is a second-year medical student.