Farley’s Coffeehouse benefits from coffee-obsessed local clientele and a community that’s largely closed off from the rest of the city in Portero Hill. As a result, Farley’s boasts many loyal patrons who helped vote it into third place in CitySearch.com’s 2005 Best San Francisco Coffee. Farley’s is clearly a decent place for a shot of espresso in any neighborhood. But one of the city’s finest?

Last week I revisited Farley’s to make sure I gave them an even shake.

The space is rather like a giant wooden cube with a wooden barn feel — if not for the DayGlo® colors generated by an overhead bank of fluorescent light. In the rear corner they sell a variety of magazines, offering some decent reading opportunities for the many locals who lounge here among the dozen or so tables like it’s a local library branch. The young and eclectic clientèle seems to have a lot of time on their hands — and reading seems like one constructive way to pass the time.

Farley’s knowledgeable and relatively skilled baristas pull an espresso with a mottled, dark brown, thick crema (occasionally with lighter “heat spots”) and a pungent-to-smoky flavor. It’s actually quite good, even if it doesn’t quite live up to its looks (ignoring for a moment that the pour size tends to be a tad large). The resulting cup is short on complexity (it has no real sweetness or depth of flavor) and body to be a truly great cup.

Their espresso probably could be great if only they cut down on the size of the pour. That and their three-group, economy Astoria machine (it’s commonly found in cafés that like to skimp a few bucks on a decent machine) and cheap Delco cups aren’t exactly aspirational.

Farley’s alternates between Mr. Espresso and Sunrise Coffee Company beans. Their milk-based drinks tend to be fine, but not necessarily noteworthy; they don’t produce much microfoam.

Read the updated review.

Farley's humble interior Farley's espresso and macchiato