Caffe Trieste

Long before the sea lions arrived at Pier 39 after the Loma Prieta earthquake; while Alcatraz was still taking prisoners but before the Great Escape of 1962, Caffe Trieste opened in the North Beach in 1956.

The caffe’s history is everywhere online. It was opened by Giovanni Giotta (aka “Papa Gianni”), who came to San Francisco from Italy. Noticing a lack of espresso houses he opened his own, which is thought to be the first espresso house on the West Coast.

The cafe has the feeling of a place that time forgot… or more succinctly like a place caught in a bubble of time that you can step into while the rest of the world moves on. During my one visit, I spent most of it trying to figure out what era the bubble was from… the 1950s? No. The 1960s? Not really. The 1970s? Yes. I think that the time bubble formed around this cafe in the 1970s.

Trieste is said to have the best coffee in San Francisco… but I’m not so sure. I had an espresso. It was neither great nor memorable and it was delivered with a grumble atop a cold shoulder. And, I left with the feeling that if I opened my mouth even once (even to say thank you), I would be whisked away into a mafia secret passageway and disappear mysteriously forever.

I think you have to work really hard as a customer here.

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