As soon as you walk in the door at S3 Coffee Bar, you’re greeted by bright pink neon inviting you to do as their name says, and Smell, Sip & Savor. Tucked into a nondescript looking strip mall between a Subway and a Souplantation, off Mission Gorge Road, from the outside S3 Coffee Bar does not look like an Instagrammer’s paradise. Head inside though, and once you draw your eyes away from the pink neon shining through the artificial plant wall, you see just how aesthetically pleasing the little coffee shop really is.
A vintage phone hangs to the left of the entrance, with an adorable “hello” sign, and the blue cactus wallpaper is just begging you to take a photo as soon as you walk in the door.
It’s not just hipster photo opportunities being served up here, however. S3’s menu ranges from the classics (delicious lattes) to the over-the-top whimsical. Their Unicorn Latte–a vanilla latte topped with rainbow latte art and colorful sprinkles are my favorite. Unfortunately, this colorful special is served only on Saturdays and Sundays, so plan accordingly.
When I visited S3 Coffee Bar last week, it was my second time, and since it wasn’t Unicorn season (I visited on a Friday) I decided to stick with the classic latte. This is my go-to order, and my barometer for testing whether a coffee shop will be a favorite or not. My caffeine fiend coffee date matched my order, and we decided to also share an Acai Bowl.
S3 has a handful of small tables, but they fill up quickly, especially on weekends. There were a few people working on laptops, but we snagged one of the designated “Laptop Free” Tables, which allows diners to snack without technology.
The latte was creamy and delicious: everything one could hope for. The espresso was strong and smooth, and not drowned out by the milk. The lattes were served in adorable gray and blush cups since we indicated that we were planning to stay to enjoy our coffees.
The Acai Bowl was the star of the show for both of us. Let’s start with the acai base. One of my biggest pet peeves is icy acai (try saying that three times fast!) so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that S3’s was very creamy while remaining refreshing. The bowl was topped with granola, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, kiwi, coconut, slivered almonds, honey and a drizzle of condensed milk. I thought the combination was amazing, and the fruit tasted extremely fresh.
One of S3’s only downfalls for me was the parking situation–although it is located in a strip mall with a fairly sizeable parking lot, I didn’t have any luck finding a spot either time I’ve visited, and had to park up the street a bit. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me in the slightest, but visitors should be aware of the premium placed on parking and seats once you get inside S3.
S3 Coffee Bar catches you by surprise with their cute interior and whimsical drink options, but don’t let the looks fool you: they’re serving up some great espresso and food as well.