Opening in May 2004, this is something of an unusual find for the Lower Mission/Excelsior area. (A rule of thumb for the San Francisco “local” test should be to identify where you can find the Excelsior.)

This café is a calm and relaxing environment with quiet patrons. There are collages of photographs on the walls, and most everything is painted in bright pastel colors. Inside there’s a leather sofa, unique tables and chairs, and a piano, plus the odd rack for selling Mexican spices.

Mamá's from along Mission St. Mamá's theraputic interior

I’m not too impressed with the barista, who didn’t know what beans they used despite a sign posting Uncommon Grounds on the counter. Using a two-group Faema, they pull a very large shot espresso with a very modest, pale crema that just completely covers the surface. The resulting cup is light on impact, but it is smooth and has a mellow flavor of spice and herbs — as if you’d expect anything but, given the décor. It could have been much worse.

They also feature live music on Thursday nights 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m.

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Working the Faema at the counter The Mamá espresso