Counter Culture Cafes

Throughout their history, cafes have been hangouts for subversives, artists and revolutionaries. But in a city that is itself so counter-culture, what would a cafe have to do to be anti-establishment, sell raunchy BDSM sex toys? Well, one SoMa coffeehouse is doing just that, and we've found four other hotbeds of anti-mainstream culture--and most of them have great coffee, too.

Updated: February 04, 2010

Caffienated Sedition

Mojo Bicycle Cafe

639-A Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

At this cozy Divisadero Street bike/beer shop there's one thing the tattooed messengers speaking fixie, neighborhood people waiting for a tire to be patched on their Huffy, and laptop laden graphic designers trolling Facebook for news about their ex-girlfriend all have in common, and that is the fact that they would rather eat their own carbon footprint or risk death and dismemberment on a bike on Market Street at 9am than drive a car to work.

Revolution Cafe

3248 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Revolution Cafe is so much like your typical artsy neighborhood coffee shop that it might be more accurate to drop the "counter" and just call it a culture cafe. This is not a dismissal, as much as a pretty good term for a spot that has live music most nights of the week, is a hangout for every artist and wannabe artist in the Mission, and has white rastas smoking bowls on the front porch to keep even the most weed-tolerant squares from coming in and ruining the vibe.

Wicked Grounds

289 8th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

San Francisco's first kink cafe and boutique combines two of the city's most popular activities: unconventional sex and locally roasted coffee. With BDSM-themed photographs lining the walls, and a small but well-stocked fetish equipment boutique, Wicked is like that ex you keep sleeping with: creepy if it weren't so comfortable. Besides, where else can you get a nicely pulled espresso while learning how to hog-tie your husband and beat him with a bull-whip?


255 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

Vesuvio is to San Francisco what Les Deux Magots is to Paris: a place where tourists go when they need to check "counter-culture" off their list. Despite that, this famed Jack Kerouac hangout, which was founded in 1948 as a place for people who didn't fit in at other bars, is still a lovely little cave of bohemian delights. There's absinthe, and bartenders who would hide you from the Gestapo, not to mention it opens (and starts serving beer) at 6am.