An oasis for coffee and toast is coming to Bird Rock. Called Rikka Fika (coined after the Japanese word for the first day of summer and the Swedish term for a coffee break), the cafe is currently scheduled to open this winter on La Jolla Boulevard where it’ll join standout spots like Wayfarer Bread & Pastry, Bird Rock Coffee, and the incoming Paradisaea in further establishing the beach community as bonafide dining destination.
Co-owners Michelle Jow and Scott Chen are UCSD grads and former tech professionals, whose backgrounds in engineering and experience design, as well as their enthusiasm for coffee science, have helped to inform this project; with consultation from a Blue Bottle Coffee veteran, Jow and Chen have developed a coffee menu that will revolve around a rotating list of international roasters from Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Offering standard espresso drinks as well as cold brew and pour overs, which will feature some rare coffee varietals, Rikka Fika will also serve speciality beverages, including a mocha made with Dandelion Chocolate from San Francisco and their take on a Taiwanese brown sugar latte along with “Eastern Beauty” White-Tip Oolong tea, specially sourced from a small farm in Jow’s hometown of Hsinchu, Taiwan.
Designed in a wabi-sabi Japanese aesthetic with a mix of natural wood, concrete, and greenery, the cafe will sell beans from its featured roasters plus coffee supplies and equipment.
Another big focus will be on house-baked shokupan, or Japanese milk bread. Scott’s sister Jessica, who transitioned from a fashion career into baking, trained with an award-winning baker in Taiwan to create Rikka Fika’s recipe for this pillowy-soft enriched white bread that’s a staple in Japanese households. Sweetened with a hint of local honey, the shokupan are baked in square pullman-style loaf pans for perfectly straight sides and uniform golden color. In addition to serving as the base for a variety of toasts and sandwiches, loaves of the bread will be available for retail and wholesale.
Though the Bird Rock storefront won’t open until later this year, Rikka Fika will preview its menu at the 2022 Makers Arcade Summer Fair held June 25 and 26 at Broadway Pier. There will be drinks featuring La Cabra Coffee from Aarhus, Denmark and Weekenders Coffee from Kyoto, Japan as well as snacks like crispy toast bites with ghee and organic cane sugar.
Other pop ups and catering events will follow, and the owners tell Eater that they’ll soon be launching online sales of their shokupan via Rikka Fika’s Instagram page.