Across the Balboa Theater, this cavernous café and art gallery was managed by the same owners from 1994 until being sold to its current owners in 2004. (The previous owners have since set up a café in Gilbert, AZ.) The new owners, like the previous ones, are a bit cagey with their customers and seem ultra-suspicious of potential freeloaders; there are signs for minimum orders to use their WiFi, the bathrooms are locked, etc. Part of the reason is because this location caters heavily to nearby SFSU students.

However, there’s a very large base of Asian-American locals who frequent the place — playing cards, reading, etc. Besides the gallery space, there’s also a large room in back where a mannequin in sunglasses on an upper level stares down at you. They sell a variety of exquisite Asian teapots and hand-painted coffee mugs.

Entrance to Zephyr Zephyr owner behind his CREM

Using a newer, three-group, Mr. Espresso-supplied CREM, they pull espresso shots with a whisp of a dark-to-medium brown swirl of crema. (CREM, or Expobar, is an espresso machine manufacturer near Valencia, Spain — Mr. Espresso once had a small inventory of their machines a few years back.) The resulting cup has almost no body and is almost tasteless – save for the faintest hint of mild spice and sawdust. Truly a waste of Mr. Espresso coffee and equipment (and I’m sure Mr. Espresso has their hands full trying to convince them of their need for improvements). Served in classic brown ACF cups.

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Scary mannequin watches your every move from the balcony The Zephyr espresso