Sometimes coffeehouses can earn rave reviews, in part, because their most vocal customers don’t venture much beyond Starbucks or Fisherman’s Wharf. Coffee Adventures is your typical, low-frills, family-operated café — but with far more than its fair share of ravers (ignoring their coffee credentials). Some rave by word of mouth, and others rave via user reviews on Web sites. But in either case, they all contribute to a sort of irony about their own coffee experiences through the café’s name (e.g., half the raves end with “…and it’s not a Starbucks!”)

As anyone who has lived here long enough realizes, San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf is something of a tourist concentration camp — a way to efficiently keep the tourist dollars flowing into the city’s coffers while keeping most of the chaos and unsightly crowds confined to a reservation of sorts (call it SF’s “The Rez”). As a result, the locals venture into Fisherman’s Wharf about as often as they visit traffic court.

So we expect many of the user reviews to come from distant visitors who might have little besides a neighborhood Starbucks to compare with it. And the raves from the locals likely stem from neighborhood residents and workers who really appreciate the personal touch of a friendly, comfortable, family-owned business. (And given the Myanmar-inspired locales for some recent cafés in town, who can blame them for raving?) Because otherwise the coffee here is, at best, average for SF.

Befuddled tourists evaluating their coffee options in front of Coffee Adventures Inside Coffee Adventures

Coffee Adventures has the typical discount sofa and chairs seating you would expect from a 1990′s SF coffeehouse interior design catalog. They also have a few café tables and some limited outdoor sidewalk plastic chairs. In addition to various forms of coffee (this is no understatement), they serve stale pastries and smoothies.

The family-run business scores points for service and charm, but that only goes so far with coffee quality. Using a three-group La Spaziale S3, they serve a properly short with a whitish dot hotspot (they don’t cut off the pour soon enough). With a medium and lighter brown crema of very modest thickness — with some larger bubbles suspended in it. There’s the classic Mountanos Bros. ashier aroma and a flavor of some tobacco and a somewhat bitter, ashy edge. They also sell their own (Mountanos Bros.) beans as “CA at Home”, and they do offer cold press coffee.

Unfortunately, for good coffee near the Wharf, we still recommend that you leave The Rez.

Read the review of Coffee Adventures.

La Spaziale barista workstation inside Coffee Adventures The Coffee Adventures espresso