Mazarine Coffee

Café Crossroads

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Owners choose café names very carefully. In San Francisco, Mazarine Coffee’s namesake reverberates throughout the Market Street shop. Bibliotheque Mazarine in Paris is known for its collections of rare publications, assembled among historical walls and arched ceilings. Originally constructed to cater exclusively to royalty, the library became public in 1643 and claims the title of the oldest public library in Paris.

In addition to a loyalty to the Parisian institution, the inspiration behind many of Mazarine’s decor decisions was a desire to offer only the best, says Jason Miller, director of coffee and culture. “The beauty of Mazarine—we’re a platform for anything of quality. It’s designed with a minimal, yet luxurious feel. We want you feel like you’re in an energized, classy library.”

The idea of a curated, best-of-the-best selection carries itself into every aspect of Mazarine. Boor Bridges Architecture, the creators behind local cafés Sightglass Coffee and Four Barrel’s the Mill, designed the space to have an open feel. The long counter is purposeful, splitting the cafe down its entire length and allowing the baristas to be better connected with customers.

Mazarine's customized Kees Van Der Westen machine.
Mazarine’s customized Kees Van Der Westen machine. (Photos by Jenn Chen.)
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Italian work lamps light up table seating.
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Thick avocado toast with radishes.

“It was extremely important that our pour-over stations face the customers,” says Jason. “We want to be open and airy, involved with our customers at all times. “

Their ever-rotating coffee selection recently featured Berkeley’s Supersonic Coffee, Southern California’s Klatch Coffee, and San Francisco’s Ritual Coffee Roasters. Espresso is pulled on a sleek, customized Kees van der Westen machine bearing the Mazarine name. The tactile, uniquely rough sensation of a locally made Heath Ceramics’ mug and saucer contributes to the luxurious enjoyment of the coffee.

Beyond a name for a Parisian library, Mazarine is also a serene sea blue color, highlighted in the tile work behind the bar, arranged to create the look of shelved books.

Other decor elements give nods to the bar’s namesake. Beyond a name for a Parisian library, Mazarine is also a serene sea blue color, highlighted in the tile work behind the bar, arranged to create the look of shelved books. Along the walls, brass accordion sconces are reminiscent of work desk lamps, sourced from Restart Milano, an Italian design company.

Along with selected coffee, Mazarine offers beer and wine, food—like trendy avocado toast—and free Wi-Fi for customers. At any given time, the café is filled with local office workers, freelancers, and—true to San Francisco—groupings of startup interviews.

Jason says Mazarine is testing out earlier weekend hours, a happy hour for local workers, and concierge partnerships with local hotels. Downtown San Francisco now has a space for imbibing coffee in a relaxed, high-end environment.

Jenn Chen is a San Francisco-based coffee consultant and writer.