Good coffee cultures are exported. Starbucks grew by churning out a mutant strain of Italian coffee culture by the thousands. Fifteen years ago, we saw cafés in Prague that boasted “Seattle style lattes.” And while New York City is beating its chest lately over its recent coffee prowess — emulating one of its most famous tourists of the Great Depression — most of what’s boast-worthy has been imported from the coffee cultures of places such as Portland and San Francisco (or even Australia).

Henry Kalebjian, of SF's House of Coffee, and his San Franciscan roasterWait? Did we just say San Francisco? Despite this town’s long coffee history, ten years ago SF lacked any quality focal points that were honestly worth exporting. A lot, however, has changed since then — even to the point where the term “San Francisco” has become something of a coffee branding strategy.

Atlanta, GA, for example, has a local, independent coffee house and roaster known as the San Francisco Coffee Roasting Company (not to be confused with the Pier 39 place with the same name). There’s the San Francisco Coffee Company in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (not to be confused with a local roaster). Malaysia and Singapore even have a 27-outlet chain called San Francisco Coffee.

Of course, the quality at most coffee shops in San Francisco is suspect at best. So there’s clearly no need to get into the protectionism of regional labeling that we’ve seen in products such as champagne or Vidalia onions. But whenever parts in the rest of the world take notice, that’s usually a good thing.