I am very excited to say that San Diego’s coffee scene is on point. As the San Diego Caffeine Crawl of 2017 summed up, “it isn’t sunshine alone that makes San Diego’s coffee and tea culture so fantastic”. You’ll find that many coffee shops take great pride in the coffee they serve, and even roast their own beans in-house. For a person who always keeps an eye out for new coffee shops to explore, San Diego has a pretty amazing selection.
I’ve made it my mission to try as much coffee as possible during my time here, and I’ve meticulously put together 10 of my favorite spots. I must say, there are so many great options, it was extremely hard narrowing it down, but in this case I would consider that a good problem to have. 🙂
As an FYI, my drink of choice is usually some form of a latte made with whole milk, so that’s typically what I use to judge coffee shops.
1. Caffé Calabria
Located in trendy North Park, Caffé Calabria has a very European/Italian appeal going for it. The beverages are well poured and the food options are equal in quality. Caffé Calabria takes great pride in roasting their own coffee beans, and you’ll notice that many coffee shops around San Diego also serve Café Calabria beans.
Personal fav: Caffé Viennese latte, which is a cinnamon and honey latte.
2. Café Virtuoso
Don’t be fooled by outward appearances. The location and even the coffee shop itself is not exactly impressive, but as they say, never judge a book by its cover. I made my way over to Café Virtuoso and since have gone out of my way to return for its delicious coffee nectar. Café Virtuoso also roasts their own beans, and they make a strong effort to make sure everything is 100% certified organic.
Personal fav: Salted Caramel Latte – but I also loved the Peanut Butter Latte!
3. Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar
At the Elixir Espresso Bar, every beverage is brewed and poured with great care to create the perfect…elixir. There are four locations around San Diego, and each have a nice upscale and sophisticated draw to them. They are also known for their crêpes, which I find pairs nicely with coffee. 🙂 Elixir uses Caffé Calabria roasted beans for their beverages.
4. James Coffee Co.
Located in Downtown’s Little Italy, James Coffee Co. is the brainchild of former guitarist and band member David Kennedy from Angels and Airwaves. Besides creating great coffee, they also roast their own beans (from single origin and blends), as well as sell tea, chocolate, and coffee equipment. In addition to that, they offer coffee classes where you can hone in your skills with latte art and home brewing.
5. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
Dark Horse has a funky, hipster type of vibe where yummy delicious beverages are made. They also roast their own beans in house, which you can also purchase. I have to give props for this creative concoction, the Salted Maple Latte. I love salt, I love maple, and I love lattes, why not combine it all together? 🙂
6. Holsem Coffee
Holsem is an open spaced and beautifully decorated coffee shop perfectly located in the heart of North Park. The clean and minimalistic look will make you not only order a tasty latte, but wanna Instagram it, too! Here you can enjoy creative concoctions like the “La Vie en Rose” cappuccino, which features rosewater, rose petals, honey, and cardamom. Holsem Coffee also roasts their own beans.
7. Copa Vida
My favorite location is downtown’s East Village where you can enjoy your coffee while taking in the buzzing urban locale. This location has a modern aesthetic with an open and sophisticated feel. Not only can you enjoy a great cup of coffee, but breakfast and lunch is available as well. Copa Vida roasts their own beans, which you will notice is commonly served at other local cafés.
8. Lofty Coffee
Both of Lofty Coffee’s two locations, Solana Beach and Downtown, have a great ambiance and excellent style and décor. This shop is also a proud coffee bean roaster, and I personally loved the Salted Caramel Latte.
9. Bean Bar
Bean Bar owners Sandra and Jason hail from the Pacific Northwest, and seem to have brought their love for excellent coffee to sunny San Diego. The wooden wall art behind the espresso bar and the funky and colorful chalk art immediately makes this East Village find your favorite local coffee shop. Bean Bar serves beans from yummy 49th Parallel located in Vancouver, Canada and as a unique personal touch is Bean Bar actually makes their own syrups.
10. Café Moto
And finally we have Café Moto. This café is located in Barrio Logan, and has a very industrial looking décor. As you wander through the back shop you’ll find that Café Moto roasts their own beans, which are out on display, and they even provide sample brews for you to try.
Over to you! What’s your favorite coffee shop in San Diego?