San Diego may be synonymous with board shorts, beaches, and a perpetually warm climate, but this city has a serious coffee situation going on. From pour-overs to cold brews, here are 5 new (or newish) cafes worth checking out:
WowWow Waffle [temporarily closed]: WowWow is a waffle eatery tucked behind a North Park laundromat and decked out with upcycled lecture hall seats from Point Loma Nazarene University, succulent walls, and plenty of books and magazines. Coffee & Tea Collective brews are served—free refills if you get plain coffee!—and the waffles, made with a Brioche-based dough rather than a batter, are the best I’ve ever had. (WowWow’s hours are a bit funky at the moment; they’re closed Sundays and Mondays and open until 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.)
Kettle & Stone: This cafe, which opened in December, is situated on an active stretch of Lewis Street in the otherwise quiet Mission Hills neighborhood. While the inside space is cozy and shared with an eclectic gift and home decor boutique, Mod About You, the outdoor seating is the place to be. There’s great people-watching on Lewis, which is home to everything from a deli and spin studio to hair salons and the (very cool) clothing boutique, Le Bel Age. K&S serves locally roasted Westbean coffee, and while the $4 latte was a bit steep for my budget, there was quality to back it up. They also offer pastries from Bread & Cie and Le Parfait Paris among other local spots.
James Coffee Co.: Sparse, industrial, minimalist—they’re all ways to describe this Little Italy cafe, which shares a space with other local businesses, including a leather accessories brand and eyewear boutique. James Coffee pours its eponymous brand of beans, and there are fun twists to pick from, like the espresso with condensed milk and nutmeg. It’s also a bit away from the hubbub of Little Italy and finding parking has never been an issue for me.
Bean Bar: Partners in life and business, Sandra and Jason recently opened Bean Bar to bring their expertise to the East Village with Bean Bar. She grew up in Germany, he hails from Portland, and they both come from a background where coffee is a craft. That upbringing is evident in everything from they way they pour to the recommendations they offer. Two of the coolest features are the coffee-infused mocktails (above) as well as the slow bar, a place to sit, watch, and learn from the barista.
Heartwork Coffee Bar: A family-run operation, Heartwork, located on the newly bustling Goldfinch Street in Mission Hills, serves James Coffee Co. and Dark Horse Coffee Roasters along with vegan donuts by local baker Papa G and other baked treats. The decor is subdued and sophisticated without feeling sterile, like so many craft coffee shops can seem these days. Keep in mind that seating inside is minimal, or grab a table on their charming sidewalk patio.
Other recent coffee shop openings: Dark Horse Coffee Roasters (North Park), StreetCar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts, and Coffee (North Park), Coffee & Tea Collective (East Village), Halcyon (East Village), WestBean Coffee Roasters (Gaslamp), and coming soon, Ladies & Gentleman Coffee Roasters (East Village) and Caffe Calabria (Downtown).