San Diego has always been known for its cliffside homes, perpetually sundrenched patios and relaxing beach lifestyle. The weather is constantly beautiful and the people are laidback, making this city the perfect getaway in all seasons.
Although San Diego’s views attract visitors year round, the city’s thriving coffee culture tends to go overlooked. Often overshadowed by its Golden-state neighbors, the city’s competitive coffeehouses took awhile to catch up to the likes of Los Angeles, but have since blossomed into a booming, central piece of San Diego’s inherent charm.
If you spend one day roaming San Diego’s coffee scene, you’ll quickly discover all of these shops are one-of-a-kind. San Diego’s coffee shop owners have crafted friendly hubs locally known for being experimental, innovative, and, quite frankly, beautiful. Most shops take pride in not just creating another chain to roll through, but a space that connects visitors to the community, city and region. And who wouldn’t want to enjoy a coffee that reflects all Southern California has to offer?
From the heart of Downtown San Diego to the beachside Mission Beach, here are four cozy coffee corners you don’t want to miss on your next visit.
Better Buzz Coffee Roasters Mission Beach
Of course, I can’t mention San Diego coffee shops without listing Better Buzz Coffee Roasters! Honestly, I’m obsessed. Having expanded to six locations all across the San Diego region, coffee lovers can find Better Buzz Coffee’s mouthwateringly sweet and flavorful blends in Pacific Beach, Pacific Beach West, Mission Beach, Fashion Valley, San Marcos, Encinitas, Hillcrest and Point Loma.
Better Buzz has something for everyone, whether you’re moving and on-the-go, or stopping in for a catch up with friends. Their rustic spaces are fresh, airy and full of colour with tons of table, bar and window space for long visits. Better Buzz drinks are creamy and light, especially their ice blended collection. Blends like the White Chocolate Buzz and Mint Mocha Buzz will keep you coming back for more every time. Add in their generous avocado toast served on thick multigrain bread and the fresh acai bowls, and I don’t have a single complaint. Who said a perfect coffee parlor doesn’t exist?
Holsem Coffee North Park
Three words: location, location, location! Established right in the heart of one of San Diego’s most bustling sectors, Holsem Coffee’s flagship offers a ton more than just great coffee–though they definitely offer that too. This 2,200-square-foot setup takes place right on University Avenue, host to North Park’s weekly farmer’s market, an 18+ arcade and popular local indie concert venue, The Observatory North Park. Within a several minute stroll to additional restaurants, shops and boutiques, this cozy coffee corner not only offers great eats, but greater break-time entertainment (which is extremely important, trust me).
Holsem Coffee boasts a uniquely progressive coffeehouse mentality. All of their coffee is roasted in-house, and all of their drinks are produced from their own beans. Additionally, they provide several quality decaffeinated options on their menu, and a number of gluten-free items. Even their specially crafted syrups and hazelnut milk are made from scratch! Holsem offers cheese boards, sandwiches, pastries and seasonal quiches to quench that mid-study starvation mode. Need something a bit stronger? Holsem’s uniquely crafted cocktail menu has fun adult offerings like the Hibiscus Citrus Sangria, which can brighten anyone’s afternoon!
If you’re trying to live like a local, you must spend one whole night in Lestat’s. Opened in 1997, Lestat’s hasn’t closed its doors since. And don’t let the dated vibe deter you. There’s a lot going on at all times in this coffee hub, from comedy nights to open mic events.
Inspired by Anne Rice’s New Orleans-centered masterpiece, Interview with a Vampire, Lestat’s regularly rotates its vintage art pieces to showcase local artists. This means you’re basically sitting in a new shop every time you visit. Surrounded by vibrant walls, antique décor furniture and the quirky art displays, you’ll never tire of unearthing new discoveries beyond the shop’s fleshed out menu.
While Lestat’s may not be the modern space most of its neighbours offer in Hillcrest and North Park, it’s irreplaceable as a community staple. The friendly, artsy visitors make the ambience as much as the coffee does. There’s just no place anything like Lestat’s in San Diego– and there’s nothing like their perfect touch of ginger in a Chai Tea Latte after a hard day’s work, either.
Coffee & Tea Collective North Park
North Park has no shortage of hipster hubs, and Coffee & Tea Collective is no exception. In both their North Park and Downtown location, they have collaborated with Sideyard Projects to create an open, beautiful floor plan. This supremely modern gem is all about light aesthetic and ambiance. Marked on the outside by a discreet ‘&’ ,visitors can easily miss the building. Similarly, Coffee & Tea Collective’s interior holds minimal décor, a neutral color palette and unobtrusive music. It’s the kind of unassuming place you park yourself in to get some serious work done.
Locals know Coffee & Tea Collective for their quality coffee, which they roast fresh in the back. Their lattes are thick, flavorful and affordable, while their espresso is strong, but tasty. If you can’t get past their expansive menu, their delicious Matcha Latte is the perfect choice to complement your ideal San Diego day.