This casual café run by Mission locals lives across the street from the slightly newer, and trendier, Sugarlump. That detail alone contributes to an unusual social “halo” surrounding this café — one that forgives the many sins it commits against good coffee.

To be honest, the espresso here is quite dreadful. But this place is notable as one of the greater anomalies (read: failures) of user review Web sites: overwhelming evidence that being popular and being good can be two very different things.

Yelp reviewers lavish praise on some of the worst espresso in SF

For example, L’s Caffé is currently rated the fourth best coffee spot in all of SF according to Yelp. Meanwhile, CoffeeRatings.com rated its espresso in the bottom 25% of the entire city; it is currently tied for 463rd. (A separate article on the story of this and other vagaries and insanities of Yelp’s Top 20 coffee places in SF is forthcoming.)

But if you’ve come here to do something other than drink espresso, the place offers a bit to like. It’s rather casual, clean, and low-key. There are several indoor tables and chairs with ample space, and it’s rare that you have to fight for them. There’s a lower level in front for seating with a step up to the service level towards the back of the shop.

Hugs and kisses in front of L's Caffé Inside L's Caffé

It’s a true café in that they offer sandwiches, salads, and even mollettes (think crusty bread sandwiches). Then throw in an absence of coffee snobbery — after all, how could they be anything but humble with what shots they’re pulling here? All these factors likely contribute to the locals overlooking the awful espresso when submitting their online reviews.

Using a two-group Elektra Maxi at the rear coffee station, they pull espresso shots that have a thick foam of lighter brown crema — and yet it is featureless and adds little to the cup. The single espresso pour is immense: to the top of the rim. Like the Organic Coffee Co. mothership (who supplies their coffee beans), the flavor is on the ashy side — except here it is even moreso: with the watered-down volume in the cup added to the mix.

We hope they have flood insurance, because there’s a deluge coming out of their Elektra machine.

Read the review of L’s Caffé.

Working the Elektra Maxi at L's Caffé Got fins and a snorkel? The L's Caffé espresso.