With a name like that, I’m expecting a place that’s going to deliver on that promise. I want the off beaten path, the alleyway gem. Trouble Coffee is mix of people who want coconut water, black coffee, and cinnamon toast. And just like everything in San Francisco, it still has a line out the door.

Trust me, I know how to stir up Trouble.

Trouble is located in the Outer Sunset, about a mile from the beach. This neighborhood is a largely residential district in San Francisco west of Twin Peaks and south of Golden Gate Park. That means most tourists never go and most locals don’t even bother. Until you’ve read this, that is.

Outer Sunset is visiting your heavy metal, surfer Grandma whose favorite foods include toast, warm cookies, and fried chicken. She is literally the best. This metaphorical Grandma waits with you in line.

Things move slower here, she warns, as we step inside Trouble Coffee. Outside patrons sit on the reclaimed wood benches, each holding an espresso, a drip coffee, or a young coconut. I grab the cinnamon toast, and eat it at the bar as blaring metal music plays at 9am.  Sometimes they play jazz, the grandma smiles.

The black drip coffee is robust, tart, with the deep notes of cherry and anise. At this point, the coffee is tinged with my cinnamon toast crumbs and that’s when it hits me. It needs more spice. I finish my toast, and head out. It’s actually sunny today.

On the walk to Ocean Beach, the coffee in my hand suddenly feels cold. The brisk ocean air is no joke in SF, where I’m more likely to burn walking around the city than lazing on the beach. I’m really just here to watch the seagulls, and take pictures of the waves; but I can still hear the faint remnants of  Kamelot on the wind.

Life in the Sunset

After almost going to sleep watching the waves, I head right past Trouble again to go to Outerlands—the brunch spot I’ve been meaning to try but never have.  Everyone’s waiting on you, and I can even bring your coffee inside. It’s lukewarm now, but it’ll do. I want to order another one, but my social anxiety kicks in—it’ll look funny. Don’t. Known for their sourdough bread—and who isn’t in SF these days—I share the Sticky Bun with whiskey, coffee, & bacon with my friends. I immediately recognize it was a mistake.

This warm gooey sourdough mess should have all been mine. The caramelized whiskey matched perfectly with the thick cut millionaires bacon. It was enough for everyone; but it wasn’t enough for me. I deserve another one, but I hold off. I’ll be back, I whisper to the sticky bun plate  as I see it leave the table. The real “brunch” comes pretty quick, but it wasn’t enough for me either. Maybe I should have eaten breakfast.

Walking back to my car, I’m reminded of all the times I’ve come to Sunset. The second time I got the americano, classic, and the third: the Gibraltar. I’d say the latter would have done well with oat milk over traditional, as it required something more wheaty to bring out the darker notes and make it a little more homey. The americano packed a punch, and I relished every sip.

Cause Trouble yourself…

I’ve got friends that refuse to go to a place they’ve already been. They’re constantly on the hunt for more. But me? Trouble is the cafe for the lost soul, the wanderer, and the one who just won’t quit when they’re ahead. As much as I have on my list to try, sometimes it’s nice to kick back, relax, and just let trouble brew.

Trouble Coffee is located on 4033 Judah St, in the Outer Sunset. They have other locations, which you can see on their website.

a Gibraltar from Trouble Coffee

Lauryn Ash

Game Designer & Writer

About the Author

A full-time game developer and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I analyze the world through video games and coffee. Sharing my experience in game design, coffee, and writing. All opinions are my own.

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