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Close-up of an espresso drink with artsty foam.
An espresso drink from Jaunt.
Jaunt Coffee Roasters

San Diego’s Essential Coffee Shops and Roasters

It’s a good time to be an espresso lover in San Diego

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An espresso drink from Jaunt.
| Jaunt Coffee Roasters

A note to any coffee lover who didn’t live here ten plus years ago: You are experiencing a very different (much improved) landscape. For traditionalists, San Diego is stacked with places that pull very good espresso shots and add to them only foam or milk. For culinary explorers, the region has a rich patchwork of cafes doing fun, creative drinks that fortunately start off with a base coffee made from locally roasted beans.

A new generation of roasters with the passion, knowledge, and drive to make better coffee is thriving thanks to an audience thirsty for quality coffee.

This map has a few kinds of java spots: long established, venerated roasters, a handful of newcomers, and some who broke ground to help lift up the local coffee game. San Diego is lucky to have them all.

NOTE: Map points are listed geographically.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Revolution Roasters

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Revolution, on a fun commercial strip of South Coast Highway between boutiques and restaurants, is an essential coffee stop in Oceanside. While you’re there, pick up a pound of coffee from the many varieties, including a lightly roasted naturally processed Ethiopian coffee described as “nostalgic of how coffee was likely first ever enjoyed”, a bunch of single origins from Mexico, Guatemala, and Papua New Guinea, as well as blends.

La Costa Coffee Roasting

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This North County spot has an easy-going vibe where you’ll find a mix of patrons — newspaper readers parked at tables, busy families, people on the go — united by their love of coffee. Its fan base exists for good reason: this roaster cultivates long-term relationships with coffee growers and then takes that raw material and transforms it into something outstanding. The broad drink menu has something for everyone, from classic drinks to a long list of zany mochas.

Coffee roaster and operator from La Costa Coffee Roasting. The machine is large, white and is spinning beans. The man standing next to the machine and operating it is also drinking something from a mug.
Coffee roaster and operator from La Costa Coffee Roasting.
La Costa Coffee Roasting

Lofty Coffee La Costa

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One of the major players in North County’s coffee scene, Lofty also operates a bustling cafe in Little Italy. Its latest outpost at the Beacon in Carlsbad has plenty of room for lingering over coffee, conversation, and a bigger-than-most food menu that ranges from breakfast dishes and pastries to toasts and lunch bowls.

Umbrella-covered tables outside a coffee shop.
Lofty Coffee La Costa.
Lofty Coffee/Facebook

Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

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This small batch roaster in Encinitas is one of many quality coffee spots in North County. What sets it apart: how close they get to the source, through travel and study, to bring back the best beans available. What that means for you: consistently amazing espresso and brews.

Manzanita Roasting Company and Coffee House

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This bohemian, Insta-ready storefront in Rancho Bernardo Winery is one outpost of this newish roasting company. Another is in Escondido. You’ll also find their mild, balanced beans around the region, including at Portal Coffee in Little Italy and Rob’s Brewpoint, an acclaimed coffee shop in downtown El Cajon.

A cappuccino or other milky espresso drink, in the foreground, with heart shaped latte art, and an agave or similar succulent in the background.
Foam and milk and espresso from Manzanita.
ManzanitaRoasting/Facebook

Zumbar Coffee & Tea

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Zumbar’s two locations are rather different. The one between the Torrey Pines research mesa and the tech hub of Sorrento Valley draws on brainiacs from both sides of Interstate 5. The other, in Cardiff, has ocean views and a breezy, picnic-perfect park around the corner. Zumbar’s focus on quality — from using reputable brokers to small-batch roasting to the final assembled drink with perfectly pulled ristretto shots — makes every sip so satisfying.

Mostra Coffee

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This award-winning roaster is steadily expanding its network of cafes to a variety of San Diego neighborhoods, from Bankers Hill to Mira Mesa. Its popular specialty drinks draw from Filipino desserts, ranging from a bibinka creme brulee latte to a turon cappuccino and coconut cold brew.

Jaunt Coffee Roasters

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This roaster, which serves espresso, pour-overs, and some less usual drinks (like their signature Ube latte and the minty mojito cold brew) is tucked into a Mira Mesa industrial park. That may not sound alluring, but Jaunt has charm by the gallon. The interior is hip. The baked goods (including some to die for sticky buns) and food menu (including empanadas and other flaky delights) make it a good spot for lunch. A touching detail: they have a pay it forward board where customers can buy a drink for a future passer-by who might need a pick-me-up but not have funds.

La Colombe Coffee

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San Diego’s only outpost of this venerable Philadelphia-based roaster opened at UTC in 2018, bringing with it the rich and toasty original Corsica blend, and a smoother, rounder, medium roasted Nizza blend, served on-site in beautiful Italian Deruta ceramic mugs.

Kaffee Meister - Lakeside Coffee Bar & Drive-Thru

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This East County coffee shop and roaster has two locations: one in a charming Santee strip mall landscaped with mature trees, and another inside a quaint antique shop in Lakeside (which has a drive-through). The real draw here is their expertly microfoamed lattes, balanced cappuccinos, and overall excellent beans. (A post on its website states that their owner and roaster is currently ill, after open heart surgery, so they’re using beans for now from Mostra and another roaster.)

A hand pours milk into a cup of espresso, to produce latte art
Latte art from Kaffe Meister.
KaffeeMeisterSantee/Facebook

The Forum Coffee House

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A long menu of creative drinks made using their house-roasted coffee beans, paired with a solid menu of sweet and savory treats, make The Forum a hit with students and other laptop denizens. Attention matcha fans: they serve ceremonial-grade imported Japanese matcha. And their espresso is sustainable — directly traded and roasted using a zero-emission process.

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

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

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This cafe and roaster, which was sold to a Kansas-based coffee roaster by its founder and owner, Chuck Patton, in 2017, has changed its style and vibe in recent years, with different drinks and branding. Original Bird Rock fans may notice a difference, but judging from the crowds at their many area locations — the quality remains high.

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

La Clochette Du Coin

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Lovely espresso drinks, along with inventive and inspiring breakfast and brunch items that include pastries from its adjoining bakery, make this Pacific Beach cafe the perfect spot for a leisurely daytime meal or a quick snack and a cup of joe.

Brew Coffee Spot

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This La Mesa roaster, a short detour from Lake Murray, is a bustling hub that’s revived this quiet corner of the neighborhood. Here you’ll find students hunched over books, flex and remote workers glued to laptops, clusters of chatting friends, refueling parents with strollers in tow, and an assortment of four-legged pals. The coffee, which they roast four to five times a week on-site, includes single-origins and blends created to pack a punch or soothe milder cravings. They have a robust food menu, too.

Coffee plus milk in a glass tumbler, created by Brew Coffee Spot.
Coffee plus milk from Brew Coffee Spot.
Brew Coffee Spot

Bay Park Coffee

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This laid-back spot is the platonic ideal of a neighborhood coffee shop, where the owner is there day in and day out and knows many of his customers by name. If you’re new, expect to get greeted with a smile and very good (Zumbar-sourced) espresso drinks.

Public Square Coffee House

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Latte art layered over light roasted espresso, single origin pour overs, kombucha, and fizzy kefir sodas, all served in a buzzing coffee shop and its homey patio, make this one of East County’s best coffee spots. On the food side, you’ll find a substantial coffee-rubbed pork sandwich, a massive breakfast sandwich, scrumptious scones and more.

Latte art pour at Public Square Coffee House, with a person in an apron holding a dark latte cup and pouring milk to form a swirly pattern.
Latte art pour at Public Square Coffee House
PublicSquareCoffeeHouse/Facebook

Scrimshaw Coffee

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This El Cerrito cafe, which opened in 2017, expanded to roasting during the pandemic. Now, this friendly and welcoming location offers great drinks (including rotating seasonal specials), a bright roast, and hefty sandwiches.

Flor and Seed Coffee Roasters

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A fixture at the Little Italy Mercato, roaster Flor and Seed finally has a permanent storefront in Old Town, where it highlights microlot coffee sourced from Mexico through direct trading with area farmers. With house made syrup sweetening traditional drinks like cafe de olla, the cafe also sells breads and pastries from local pop-up bakery Pan Del Barrio.

Cafeina

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In a community as dense and centrally located as City Heights, it’s surprising that there’s not more coffee. Even with North Park less than a mile west. Cafeina has put this neighborhood on the coffee map for multiple reasons: the consistently strong shots, the creative menu (with some playful drinks as well as the classics), a cool and shaded patio, ice cream, and a friendly team.

Heartwork Coffee

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Bringing serious coffee and a warm atmosphere to Mission Hills, this cafe roasts its own coffee in Chula Vista for its menu of straightforward coffee and espresso drinks. Vegan pastries from local bakery Hazel and Jade are also on offer.

Sidewalk and storefront of a coffee shop. Heartwork Hill

Caffè Calabria

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This veteran coffee roaster elevated San Diego’s coffee scene decades ago and continues pouring consistently tasty cappuccinos and more. Calabria hasn’t messed with its stellar original recipe of espresso in the Italian tradition and brings the same approach to its Neapolitan pizza, made with simple ingredients in the traditional technique.

Caffe Calabria

Better Buzz Coffee Hillcrest

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This local roaster has built up a massive roaster of satellite locations across San Diego County, each one well-designed and ripe for the Instagram set. Its eye-catching headquarters in Hillcrest is enduringly busy and popular, doing brisk business in specialty drinks and brunch-y snacks.

A modern coffee counter and pastry case.
Better Buzz Hillcrest
Phaedra Cook

The Coffee Method

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With an atypical setting (inside a flower shop), this OB coffee spot is big on quality ingredients and quality control, with a mostly-organic focus that spans from its coffee beans to organic milks, organic ceremonial grade matcha, and house made organic flavor boosting syrups.

The WestBean Coffee Roasters

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This roaster, which got it start as wholesaler before it branched into running its own cafes, offers artisanal syrups that are a welcome departure from artificial coffee enhancers. For purists (or if you don’t love lavender or vanilla in your joe), the traditional, simple drinks are very accomplished too.

Breakfast Sandwich #1 at The WestBean Coffee Roasters in Banker’s Hill
A sandwich and coffee.
Phaedra Cook

James Coffee Co.

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This much-admired Little Italy roaster with several outposts around San Diego specializes in single origin and blends that feature in its accomplished espresso and coffee drinks. A note: to-go drinks are now served in mason jars and require a deposit that will be refunded when the glasses are returned.

Communal Coffee

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Beautiful digs, an expansive (and, not too long ago, expanded) menu, reliable coffee and espresso drinks, and plenty of outdoor seating have all helped this local cafe chain secure a spot as one of the most busy and sought after places to drink (and photograph) coffee. A newer location in Oceanside brings Communal’s whimsy to coastal North County.

Portal Coffee

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This airy coffee shop between Little Italy and the waterfront offers a “Not A Starbucks Macchiato”, which tells you everything you need to know about its philosophy. Along with some nonstandard drinks (like their cardamom orange latte) they also have massive croissants and other baked goods.

Portal’s patio, with a brick facade and people sitting outside drinking, dining and socializing.
Portal’s corner terrace.
Portal Coffee

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

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The owners of Dark Horse are really committed to quality, from how shots are pulled to the customer experience. Pair a cortado or cold brew with a treat from Dark Horse’s own doughnut or ice cream company to check off your caffeine and sugar food group boxes for the day.

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

Cafe Virtuoso

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This certified organic roaster was operating on National Avenue long before Barrio Logan was trendy and long before Petco Park existed. Its mocha is excellent — not too sweet — and its beans are featured at a number of local restaurants, from Plum Kitchen in North County to Devil’s Dozen in Little Italy and the Waverly in Cardiff.

The brick storefront of Cafe Virtuoso, with the black and yellow logo hanging above the door.
The storefront of Cafe Virtuoso.
Courtesy Photo

Por Vida

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This cafe and roaster, with an original location in Barrio Logan that opened in 2015 near Chicano Park, recently arrived at the Old Town Urban Market. Try the creamy dulce de leche latte, the sweetly pungent cafe de la olla, or the Mexican hot chocolate for dessert in a cup. As far as prices go, it’s one of few places where one can still get an espresso shot for $2.

Whipped cream tops a coffee drink at Por Vida. Next to the coffee are assorted succulents in small  pots, and the street is in the background.
Whipped cream tops a coffee drink at Por Vida.
Facebook/Por Vida

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Revolution Roasters

Revolution, on a fun commercial strip of South Coast Highway between boutiques and restaurants, is an essential coffee stop in Oceanside. While you’re there, pick up a pound of coffee from the many varieties, including a lightly roasted naturally processed Ethiopian coffee described as “nostalgic of how coffee was likely first ever enjoyed”, a bunch of single origins from Mexico, Guatemala, and Papua New Guinea, as well as blends.

La Costa Coffee Roasting

Coffee roaster and operator from La Costa Coffee Roasting. The machine is large, white and is spinning beans. The man standing next to the machine and operating it is also drinking something from a mug.
Coffee roaster and operator from La Costa Coffee Roasting.
La Costa Coffee Roasting

This North County spot has an easy-going vibe where you’ll find a mix of patrons — newspaper readers parked at tables, busy families, people on the go — united by their love of coffee. Its fan base exists for good reason: this roaster cultivates long-term relationships with coffee growers and then takes that raw material and transforms it into something outstanding. The broad drink menu has something for everyone, from classic drinks to a long list of zany mochas.

Coffee roaster and operator from La Costa Coffee Roasting. The machine is large, white and is spinning beans. The man standing next to the machine and operating it is also drinking something from a mug.
Coffee roaster and operator from La Costa Coffee Roasting.
La Costa Coffee Roasting

Lofty Coffee La Costa

Umbrella-covered tables outside a coffee shop.
Lofty Coffee La Costa.
Lofty Coffee/Facebook

One of the major players in North County’s coffee scene, Lofty also operates a bustling cafe in Little Italy. Its latest outpost at the Beacon in Carlsbad has plenty of room for lingering over coffee, conversation, and a bigger-than-most food menu that ranges from breakfast dishes and pastries to toasts and lunch bowls.

Umbrella-covered tables outside a coffee shop.
Lofty Coffee La Costa.
Lofty Coffee/Facebook

Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

This small batch roaster in Encinitas is one of many quality coffee spots in North County. What sets it apart: how close they get to the source, through travel and study, to bring back the best beans available. What that means for you: consistently amazing espresso and brews.

Manzanita Roasting Company and Coffee House

A cappuccino or other milky espresso drink, in the foreground, with heart shaped latte art, and an agave or similar succulent in the background.
Foam and milk and espresso from Manzanita.
ManzanitaRoasting/Facebook

This bohemian, Insta-ready storefront in Rancho Bernardo Winery is one outpost of this newish roasting company. Another is in Escondido. You’ll also find their mild, balanced beans around the region, including at Portal Coffee in Little Italy and Rob’s Brewpoint, an acclaimed coffee shop in downtown El Cajon.

A cappuccino or other milky espresso drink, in the foreground, with heart shaped latte art, and an agave or similar succulent in the background.
Foam and milk and espresso from Manzanita.
ManzanitaRoasting/Facebook

Zumbar Coffee & Tea

Zumbar’s two locations are rather different. The one between the Torrey Pines research mesa and the tech hub of Sorrento Valley draws on brainiacs from both sides of Interstate 5. The other, in Cardiff, has ocean views and a breezy, picnic-perfect park around the corner. Zumbar’s focus on quality — from using reputable brokers to small-batch roasting to the final assembled drink with perfectly pulled ristretto shots — makes every sip so satisfying.

Mostra Coffee

This award-winning roaster is steadily expanding its network of cafes to a variety of San Diego neighborhoods, from Bankers Hill to Mira Mesa. Its popular specialty drinks draw from Filipino desserts, ranging from a bibinka creme brulee latte to a turon cappuccino and coconut cold brew.

Jaunt Coffee Roasters

This roaster, which serves espresso, pour-overs, and some less usual drinks (like their signature Ube latte and the minty mojito cold brew) is tucked into a Mira Mesa industrial park. That may not sound alluring, but Jaunt has charm by the gallon. The interior is hip. The baked goods (including some to die for sticky buns) and food menu (including empanadas and other flaky delights) make it a good spot for lunch. A touching detail: they have a pay it forward board where customers can buy a drink for a future passer-by who might need a pick-me-up but not have funds.

La Colombe Coffee

San Diego’s only outpost of this venerable Philadelphia-based roaster opened at UTC in 2018, bringing with it the rich and toasty original Corsica blend, and a smoother, rounder, medium roasted Nizza blend, served on-site in beautiful Italian Deruta ceramic mugs.

Kaffee Meister - Lakeside Coffee Bar & Drive-Thru

A hand pours milk into a cup of espresso, to produce latte art
Latte art from Kaffe Meister.
KaffeeMeisterSantee/Facebook

This East County coffee shop and roaster has two locations: one in a charming Santee strip mall landscaped with mature trees, and another inside a quaint antique shop in Lakeside (which has a drive-through). The real draw here is their expertly microfoamed lattes, balanced cappuccinos, and overall excellent beans. (A post on its website states that their owner and roaster is currently ill, after open heart surgery, so they’re using beans for now from Mostra and another roaster.)

A hand pours milk into a cup of espresso, to produce latte art
Latte art from Kaffe Meister.
KaffeeMeisterSantee/Facebook

The Forum Coffee House