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Mario A. Cortez

San Diego’s Essential Coffee Shops and Roasters

Where to go for a coffee fix

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San Diego’s coffee scene has more than caught up with the rest of the craft coffee world despite the late, slow start.

Over the past decade, the city has seen many locally-owned, independent roasters set up shop to provide San Diego with top shelf brews and beans that rival those buzzed about in any of the more established craft coffee hubs across the U.S. Neighborhood shops old and new also make up part of the landscape, offering drinks made with the aforementioned high-quality beans and inviting vibes.

No matter what part of San Diego you might find yourself in, you’re never too far from a great coffee shop, and maybe even your new favorite spot.

NOTE: Map points are listed geographically.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

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458 S Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 230-2311
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Encinitas’ own Ironsmith is as real as it gets when it comes to serving patrons a great cup of joe or spro. This smart and stylish roasters prepares its green coffee beans from around the coffee belt with a computer-controlled roasting process before passing though the shop’s brewer or the its top-of-the-line La Marzocco espresso machinery.

2. Zumbar Coffee & Tea

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111 Chesterfield Dr #115
Cardiff, CA 92007

One of San Diego’s pioneers in coffee roasting, Zumbar got its start in 2003 when founder Steve Rayle decided to jump into the coffee game. Today, the company operates two local outposts where perfect espresso and great, single-origin coffees extracted via pour over and French press are the norm.

3. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

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5627 La Jolla Blvd
La Jolla, CA 92037
(760) 269-8609
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Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is among San Diego’s most lauded roasters, earning the acclaim of local third-wave coffee geeks with its selection of vibrant and rare coffees. Stop in to any of the roasting company’s five local outposts to sample espresso and drip drinks made with juicy Ethiopian beans, cocoa-forward Colombian coffees, or the rich house blend.

latte art pour at Bird Rock
Latte art in progress at the original Bird Rock Coffee in La Jolla.
Phaedra Cook

4. The Forum Coffee House

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4940, 4340 Genesee Ave #110
San Diego, CA 92117
(858) 384-6020
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Nice coffee drinks and students from the nearby colleges regularly fill the tables at this popular Clairemont coffee shop. The Forum’s bar is supplied by local roasters Cafe Moto and also offers matcha-based drinks and tea lattes. A fresh scone or croissant from the display case is sure to tame any sweet cravings.

Maple latte and tomato tart at The Forum Coffee House
Maple latte and tomato tart at The Forum Coffee House
Phaedra Cook

5. Heartwork Coffee Bar

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3993 Goldfinch St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 293-3300
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Heartwork Coffee has established itself as a Mission Hills favorite with its awesome chai latte and beverages made with house-roasted beans, among these single origins grown in Ethiopia’s Yifgacheffe region and the highlands of Huehuetenango in Guatemala.

6. James Coffee Co.

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2355 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 756-7770
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James Coffee’s main hub in Little Italy gathers lots of creative-minded projects under one roof, among these a bespoke men’s boutique and an artsy card shop. Despite all the flashy tenants, James’ coffee bar stands out with vibrant pour overs and house specialties like its coffee sodas and a Mexican mocha. James also operates two more San Diego coffee bars, one in North Park and the other in Bankers Hill.

7. The WestBean Coffee Roasters

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2550 Fifth Ave #75
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 794-2052
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The WestBean was roasting before ever opening the doors on its downtown coffee bar. Today, its spacious Banker’s Hill location is the place to get some work done while sampling one of the house special lattes, among these a lavender latte and a salted caramel latte. More traditional items include balanced drip brews to go along with the food menu’s tasty sandwiches.

Breakfast Sandwich #1 at The WestBean Coffee Roasters in Banker’s Hill Phaedra Cook

8. Cafe Virtuoso

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1616 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113
(619) 550-1830
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Cafe Virtuoso offers a great selection of drip and espresso-based drinks out of its Barrio Logan headquarters. A solid line up of single-origin pour overs and an consistently outstanding cortado are great reasons to stop by during business hours. All drinks are made with beans roasted on the premises. Cafe Virtuoso is also among the first roasters to master the craft of lighter and medium roasts, producing these long before a globe-spanning corporate chain was on the ball.

9. Por Vida

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2146 Logan Ave
San Diego, CA 92113
(619) 307-3233
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Proprietors Milo Lorenzana and Carolina Santana have perfectly blended coffee culture with local art and Chicano influences to create mandatory destination for local caffeine heads. Por Vida’s specialties include its Mexican mocha and de la olla and mazapan lattes made with traditional Mexican ingredients.

10. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

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811 25th St Ste 100
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 344-0500
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One of San Diego’s premier coffee operations, Dark Horse supplies many a local with their morning caffeine fix. Stop into any of the roasters’ locations for a cold brew, latte, pour over, or one of its house-made and vegan-friendly doughnuts sold under the Skinny Donuts label.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters beans
A selection of Dark Horse Coffee Roasters’ bean blends 
Phaedra Cook

11. Cafe Moto

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2619 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113
(619) 239-6686
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Cafe Moto has what appears to be everything for the coffee enthusiast at its Barrio Logan headquarters. Stepping into its National Avenue bar space, one will find a classic coffee bar featuring its proprietary roasts in espresso and gravity-extracted drinks. Going into the backroom, you will find everything you need for your set up at home or at your business, including wholesale bags of beans, coffee-making equipment, glassware, tea, and much more. Cafe Moto also added a drive-thru on its adjacent parking lot to safely serve customers on the go.

Cafe Moto retail space
Cafe Moto has an incredible selection of coffees, teas and all the equipment and supplies needed for brewing.
Phaedra Cook

12. Coffee & Tea Collective

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2911 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 564-8086
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From a DIY set up in a garage in 2010 to running two premium coffee operations, Coffee & Tea collective continues to focus on the craft and art of roasting its meticulously selected coffees. Batch brews usually feature a house blend, usually the chocolatey Steel Frame, and a rotating single-origin coffee sure to please and surprise. The espresso lineup features a solid cortado and the house special Raleigh latte.

13. Holsem Coffee

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2911 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(858) 429-9361
Visit Website

A large selection of lattes and other coffee drinks keep the many patrons typing away on their laptops fueled throughout the day. Special drinks include the zaki cappuccino, dusted rose latte, and the Nutella cold brew. The peanut butter acai bowl and avocado toast are the stars of the food menu.

14. Lestat's on Adams

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3343 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 272-3259
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Any real San Diegan will know the joys of stepping into the original Lestat’s late into the night to sip on some joe and bite into a pastry as the Normal Heights shop is abuzz with artists, people playing board games, bar hoppers sobering up, and other nocturnal locals stopping by for a sip of coffee as the night goes on. COVID-19 precautions have cut back shop hours from its previous 24-hour schedule, with currently posted hours running from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m.

15. Cafeina

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4011 46th St
San Diego, CA 92105
(619) 861-2104
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This coffee shop on 46th brings Mexican-inspired coffee drinks to City Heights. The menu features lattes made with traditional ingredients like horchata, cajeta, and mazapan as well as a coffee bar offering regular drip and espresso. Ice cream and Mexican pastries are available on the shop’s food menu.

16. Grindhouse

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260 1/2 Third Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 576-0582
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One of Third Avenue’s pioneers in Chula Vista, Grindhouse set the pace for businesses with it’s all-day concept including coffee, food, and beer. The coffee bar is stocked with Coava beans, used to craft their mean dirty chai, bold cold brew, and the perfectly sweet peanut butter cup. Don’t sleep on the sandwich lineup’s tasty cubanos and gooey tuna melts.

Grindhouse

17. Brew Bar.

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277 3rd Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Brew Bar made its presence known by mashing together creative mixology and third wave coffee. Whether you choose to get weird with your daily dose of caffeine or go for a classic cuppa, this Third Avenue has something for everyone. The menu too has something for all with a great selection of vegan and omnivore dishes, as well as wine and beer. 

Brew Bar. (Eater San Diego file photo)

18. Mostra Coffee

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12045 Carmel Mountain Rd #302
San Diego, CA 92128
(858) 304-0061
Visit Website

Mostra is a small but mighty coffee operation worth checking out if you haven't already. A recipient of Roast Magazine’s micro roaster of the year award, Mostra puts its master roasted beans to good use in its cold brew, batch brews, and latte lineups. The bibingka creme brulee llatte and chocobanana cold brew are some of the most inventive drinks anywhere.

19. Scrimshaw Coffee

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5542 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115
(619) 501-2355
Visit Website

Scrimshaw Coffee’s laid back vibes and drinks made with expertly pulled espresso made this coffee shop immediately popular upon its arrival to El Cajon Boulevard. The outstanding iced Vietnamese coffee, cold brew and seasonal drinks keep tables full with neighbors, creatives, and SDSU students cramming for exams. Scrimshaw also officially launched its own integrated roasting arm, dubbed Field Trip Coffee Roasters, in recent weeks.

Scrimshaw Coffee

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1. Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

458 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

Encinitas’ own Ironsmith is as real as it gets when it comes to serving patrons a great cup of joe or spro. This smart and stylish roasters prepares its green coffee beans from around the coffee belt with a computer-controlled roasting process before passing though the shop’s brewer or the its top-of-the-line La Marzocco espresso machinery.

458 S Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024

2. Zumbar Coffee & Tea

111 Chesterfield Dr #115, Cardiff, CA 92007

One of San Diego’s pioneers in coffee roasting, Zumbar got its start in 2003 when founder Steve Rayle decided to jump into the coffee game. Today, the company operates two local outposts where perfect espresso and great, single-origin coffees extracted via pour over and French press are the norm.

111 Chesterfield Dr #115
Cardiff, CA 92007

3. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

5627 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037
latte art pour at Bird Rock
Latte art in progress at the original Bird Rock Coffee in La Jolla.
Phaedra Cook

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is among San Diego’s most lauded roasters, earning the acclaim of local third-wave coffee geeks with its selection of vibrant and rare coffees. Stop in to any of the roasting company’s five local outposts to sample espresso and drip drinks made with juicy Ethiopian beans, cocoa-forward Colombian coffees, or the rich house blend.

5627 La Jolla Blvd
La Jolla, CA 92037

4. The Forum Coffee House

4940, 4340 Genesee Ave #110, San Diego, CA 92117
Maple latte and tomato tart at The Forum Coffee House
Maple latte and tomato tart at The Forum Coffee House
Phaedra Cook

Nice coffee drinks and students from the nearby colleges regularly fill the tables at this popular Clairemont coffee shop. The Forum’s bar is supplied by local roasters Cafe Moto and also offers matcha-based drinks and tea lattes. A fresh scone or croissant from the display case is sure to tame any sweet cravings.

4940, 4340 Genesee Ave #110
San Diego, CA 92117

5. Heartwork Coffee Bar

3993 Goldfinch St, San Diego, CA 92103

Heartwork Coffee has established itself as a Mission Hills favorite with its awesome chai latte and beverages made with house-roasted beans, among these single origins grown in Ethiopia’s Yifgacheffe region and the highlands of Huehuetenango in Guatemala.

3993 Goldfinch St
San Diego, CA 92103

6. James Coffee Co.

2355 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

James Coffee’s main hub in Little Italy gathers lots of creative-minded projects under one roof, among these a bespoke men’s boutique and an artsy card shop. Despite all the flashy tenants, James’ coffee bar stands out with vibrant pour overs and house specialties like its coffee sodas and a Mexican mocha. James also operates two more San Diego coffee bars, one in North Park and the other in Bankers Hill.

2355 India St
San Diego, CA 92101

7. The WestBean Coffee Roasters

2550 Fifth Ave #75, San Diego, CA 92103
Breakfast Sandwich #1 at The WestBean Coffee Roasters in Banker’s Hill Phaedra Cook

The WestBean was roasting before ever opening the doors on its downtown coffee bar. Today, its spacious Banker’s Hill location is the place to get some work done while sampling one of the house special lattes, among these a lavender latte and a salted caramel latte. More traditional items include balanced drip brews to go along with the food menu’s tasty sandwiches.

2550 Fifth Ave #75
San Diego, CA 92103

8. Cafe Virtuoso

1616 National Ave, San Diego, CA 92113

Cafe Virtuoso offers a great selection of drip and espresso-based drinks out of its Barrio Logan headquarters. A solid line up of single-origin pour overs and an consistently outstanding cortado are great reasons to stop by during business hours. All drinks are made with beans roasted on the premises. Cafe Virtuoso is also among the first roasters to master the craft of lighter and medium roasts, producing these long before a globe-spanning corporate chain was on the ball.

1616 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113

9. Por Vida

2146 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113

Proprietors Milo Lorenzana and Carolina Santana have perfectly blended coffee culture with local art and Chicano influences to create mandatory destination for local caffeine heads. Por Vida’s specialties include its Mexican mocha and de la olla and mazapan lattes made with traditional Mexican ingredients.

2146 Logan Ave
San Diego, CA 92113

10. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

811 25th St Ste 100, San Diego, CA 92102
Dark Horse Coffee Roasters beans
A selection of Dark Horse Coffee Roasters’ bean blends 
Phaedra Cook

One of San Diego’s premier coffee operations, Dark Horse supplies many a local with their morning caffeine fix. Stop into any of the roasters’ locations for a cold brew, latte, pour over, or one of its house-made and vegan-friendly doughnuts sold under the Skinny Donuts label.

811 25th St Ste 100
San Diego, CA 92102

11. Cafe Moto

2619 National Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Cafe Moto retail space
Cafe Moto has an incredible selection of coffees, teas and all the equipment and supplies needed for brewing.
Phaedra Cook

Cafe Moto has what appears to be everything for the coffee enthusiast at its Barrio Logan headquarters. Stepping into its National Avenue bar space, one will find a classic coffee bar featuring its proprietary roasts in espresso and gravity-extracted drinks. Going into the backroom, you will find everything you need for your set up at home or at your business, including wholesale bags of beans, coffee-making equipment, glassware, tea, and much more. Cafe Moto also added a drive-thru on its adjacent parking lot to safely serve customers on the go.

2619 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113

12. Coffee & Tea Collective

2911 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

From a DIY set up in a garage in 2010 to running two premium coffee operations, Coffee & Tea collective continues to focus on the craft and art of roasting its meticulously selected coffees. Batch brews usually feature a house blend, usually the chocolatey Steel Frame, and a rotating single-origin coffee sure to please and surprise. The espresso lineup features a solid cortado and the house special Raleigh latte.

2911 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

13. Holsem Coffee

2911 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

A large selection of lattes and other coffee drinks keep the many patrons typing away on their laptops fueled throughout the day. Special drinks include the zaki cappuccino, dusted rose latte, and the Nutella cold brew. The peanut butter acai bowl and avocado toast are the stars of the food menu.

2911 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

14. Lestat's on Adams

3343 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

Any real San Diegan will know the joys of stepping into the original Lestat’s late into the night to sip on some joe and bite into a pastry as the Normal Heights shop is abuzz with artists, people playing board games, bar hoppers sobering up, and other nocturnal locals stopping by for a sip of coffee as the night goes on. COVID-19 precautions have cut back shop hours from its previous 24-hour schedule, with currently posted hours running from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m.

3343 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116

15. Cafeina

4011 46th St, San Diego, CA 92105

This coffee shop on 46th brings Mexican-inspired coffee drinks to City Heights. The menu features lattes made with traditional ingredients like horchata, cajeta, and mazapan as well as a coffee bar offering regular drip and espresso. Ice cream and Mexican pastries are available on the shop’s food menu.

4011 46th St
San Diego, CA 92105

Related Maps

16. Grindhouse

260 1/2 Third Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Grindhouse

One of Third Avenue’s pioneers in Chula Vista, Grindhouse set the pace for businesses with it’s all-day concept including coffee, food, and beer. The coffee bar is stocked with Coava beans, used to craft their mean dirty chai, bold cold brew, and the perfectly sweet peanut butter cup. Don’t sleep on the sandwich lineup’s tasty cubanos and gooey tuna melts.

260 1/2 Third Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910

17. Brew Bar.

277 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Brew Bar. (Eater San Diego file photo)

Brew Bar made its presence known by mashing together creative mixology and third wave coffee. Whether you choose to get weird with your daily dose of caffeine or go for a classic cuppa, this Third Avenue has something for everyone. The menu too has something for all with a great selection of vegan and omnivore dishes, as well as wine and beer. 

277 3rd Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910

18. Mostra Coffee

12045 Carmel Mountain Rd #302, San Diego, CA 92128

Mostra is a small but mighty coffee operation worth checking out if you haven't already. A recipient of Roast Magazine’s micro roaster of the year award, Mostra puts its master roasted beans to good use in its cold brew, batch brews, and latte lineups. The bibingka creme brulee llatte and chocobanana cold brew are some of the most inventive drinks anywhere.

12045 Carmel Mountain Rd #302
San Diego, CA 92128

19. Scrimshaw Coffee

5542 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115
Scrimshaw Coffee

Scrimshaw Coffee’s laid back vibes and drinks made with expertly pulled espresso made this coffee shop immediately popular upon its arrival to El Cajon Boulevard. The outstanding iced Vietnamese coffee, cold brew and seasonal drinks keep tables full with neighbors, creatives, and SDSU students cramming for exams. Scrimshaw also officially launched its own integrated roasting arm, dubbed Field Trip Coffee Roasters, in recent weeks.

5542 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115

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