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Your guide to San Diego’s coffee shops

If you don’t have coffee already in hand, consider this your sign to grab some.

HOB Coffee Mural in North Park San Diego

We agree, San Diego’s coffee scene is dope.

Photo by Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Table of Contents

For richer or pour over, San Diego’s coffee shops are what keep us going in the morning. SD ranks among the top coffee cities in America thanks to factors like cafes per capita and the price of beans.

America’s Finest City has no shortage of masterful baristas, aromatic roasts, and foamy lattes. But if you’re having trouble deciding on a spot, gather some brews clues with our guide to many of the best coffee shops in San Diego.

Pro tip: If you need to refine your order, review the different kinds of coffee before stepping up to the counter.

Better Buzz SDtoday

SDtoday often finds itself at Better Buzz.

Photo by Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Roasts to boast

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, Various | This chain started in its namesake Bird Rock neighborhood in 2006 and offers an impressive lineup of single origin beans and locally-inspired blends. In 2012, Roast Magazine recognized this local biz as Roaster of the Year.

Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, Various | Established as a Pacific Beach coffee cart in 2002, this local brand has expanded to have over a dozen locations in San Diego County and a roasting facility in Vista.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, Various | Since 2013, this brand has been roasting and brewing its coffee locally. It has six stores in San Diego County, but it also sells bags of its single origin roasts and its blends in stores and online.

A drink inside of HOB Coffee in North Park

You don’t need to drink HOB’s coffee black.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

HOB Coffee, Various | If you like to add more coffee to your coffee, HOB — aka House of Black Coffee — is the spot for you. It sources its beans and roasts them locally, and you’ll find four locations in San Diego County.

Mostra Coffee, Various | This micro coffee roaster gets its name from the Italian word for “performance,” and it proudly displays its variety of roasts from across the world. There are currently three locations, with future shops coming to Hillcrest and the San Diego International Airport.

Coffee cup in front of the "WestBean Coffee Roasters" sign

When it comes to coffee, west is the best.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

In-house roasted beans

James Coffee Co., Various | Musician David Kennedy — guitarist for bands like Box Car Racer and Angels & Airwaves — co-founded this business with his brother Jacob after he started roasting coffee in his Poway garage. The brand now roasts in Escondido, and is known for its jar exchange policy that reduces waste from single-use containers.

WestBean Coffee Roasters, Various | You’ll find this brand roasting its beans at its Bay Ho Roastery, but it also has locations in Bankers Hill and Liberty Public Market, and we’re buzzing from its nitro cold brew.

Caffe Calabria coffee cup in North Park.

Been around the world, and we still choose to get caffeinated in North Park.

Photo via @caffecalabria

Caffè Calabria, North Park | This team has searched the world for the best coffee beans, and you can find them at its comfortable cafe. Pair your drink with a pastry, delivered from local bakery Bread and Cie, or a slice of pizza or cocktail, if that’s your style.

Lofty Coffee, Various | This coffee roaster showcases flavors from across the globe. There are four cafes in San Diego, but we recommend visiting the Roasting Works facility in Encinitas, which is steps from Moonlight State Beach.

A coffee cup at Lestat's in Normal Heights with local art in the back.

Lestat’s is filled with local art and delicious drinks.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Where to write your novel

The Living Room Coffeehouse, Various | Grab a seat at this cozy shop that has a variety of coffee and espresso drinks and Freezes iced coffee blends for those hot days. The business plans to open a new location in Rancho San Diego later this year.

Lestat’s, Various | Relax at this local shop that has been a part of San Diego since 1997. It now has three local cafes, filled with seating, WiFi, art, sandwiches, and of course coffee.

Deja Brew Lounge, North Park | We’ve seen coffee, but we’ve never seen some of these colorful flavor combos before. Make sure to check out the cafe after placing your order — it’s a sight to behold.

Communal Coffee, Various | At this local biz, you’ll find comfortable spaces to work or chat, stores and flowers that have local influences, and a menu filled with flavors — you can even get a latte flight.

The interior wall at S3 coffee bar

Yes, you can go into that phone booth.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Seeing is believing

The Invigatorium, East Village | This shop features coffees roasted by Modern Times — because the biz knows how to brew more than beer. You’ll also find a breakfast and brunch menu and wild decorations, including an awfully familiar clown.

S3 Coffee Bar, Grantville | This dazzling coffee shop will have you feeling like you stepped into a coloring book with its fun designs and its drinks will have you feeling energized — we love the Mexican Mocha.

Fourtillfour's coffee cart in Encinitas

We’re loving the retro vibes at Fourtillfour.

Photo via @katheinatedd

Fourtillfour Café, Encinitas | Fuel up at this shop that originated in Scottsdale, AZ, but zoomed to Encinitas in 2022. It was founded out of a love for vintage machines, whether they have four wheels or brew coffee.

Pink Rose Cafe, La Mesa | Owner Nadia Zamora came up with the idea for this cafe based on her love of roses and all things pink. Once you get to the counter, we recommend you think pink and order the signature Pink Rose Latte

Chikita cafe drink and restaurant

Think pink if you need a drink.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Chikita Cafe, Barrio Logan | This Latina-owned coffee shop attracts customers with its great energy. We love the pink decor and its variety of drinks, like the Strawberry Horchata Latte.

Parakeet Café, Various | Fly to one of these cafes to grab coffee or a specialty latte that pairs perfectly with food from its menu. You’ll find dishes including açaí bowls, waffles, salads, and avocado toast.

A coffee cup at The Forum in Clairemont

The Forum knows about java.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Plenty of outlets and internet connection

Light Bulb Coffee, La Mesa | Here’s a bright idea — try a drink at this glowing shop. There’s plenty to choose from, and if you stay in the spacious café, you might even get to drink from a light bulb-shaped glass.

The Forum Coffee House, Clairemont | Reboot with a caffeine boost at this techy cafe. Many of the drinks have computer science related names, but the baristas will help you troubleshoot if you’re having trouble decoding the menu.

Ultreya Coffee, College Area | The name Ultreya means to “journey onward” and these drinks give us the energy to keep moving. We love the “Summit Fever” with cold brew, honey, and macadamia milk, and we’re big fans of the vegan Vietnamese coffee.

Public Square Coffee House, La Mesa | This cozy coffee shop has a great selection of coffee and espresso drinks, but if you already have your go-to drink order, we recommend adding a sugar scone with a flavored butter.

Daniel's Coffee cup inside Spanish Village in Balboa Park

Spanish Village is always full of energy.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

On-the-go joe

Daniel’s Coffee Cart, Balboa Park | After a walk in the park or wild day at the San Diego Zoo, head to the Spanish Village Art Center to cool off (or warm up) with a drink from this cart. We love the Iced Dirty Chai and the Hot Queen Bee.

Spill the Beans, Seaport Village + Gaslamp Quarter | The secret is out — this local shop has many creative and delicious coffee drinks that pair perfectly with its food options. Make sure to check out its list of bagel and cream cheese options, because there are always new combos to discover.

GEM Coffee, Talmadge | This shop started as a coffee cart before opening this brick-and-mortar shop. Owner Marlyn Gonzalez has used coffee to help form a sense of community, and you can also shop for products from local vendors when you grab your next latte.

Adore coffee house

We adore coffee from Adore.

Photo by Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

New and trendy

Saigon Coffee, North Park | You may recognize this Vietnamese Coffee biz from its presence at the Hillcrest and Poway farmers markets, but it recently opened its brick and mortar store in North Park where you can try its signature brew or get a specialty iced drink.

Adore Coffee, Cortez Hill | This Ukrainian-owned coffee shop brings its buzzy, colorful drinks to the downtown community. We recommend the blue and yellow “Brave Latte” — each one sold contributes money to benefit families in Ukraine.

Lovesong Coffee, North Park | Designed as a love song to the North Park community, this shop offers comfortable cafe seating, as well as grab-and-go food and drinks. You can find “top shelf” lattes, including one dedicated to singer Jack Johnson.

Mnemonic Coffee, Bankers Hill | This far-out shop serves lattes, cold brews, teas, and zero-proof drinks. The brand prides itself on sourcing sustainable coffees, and its cafe has the cool feel of a 1970s-inspired basement.

French toast on the rocks coffee at Breakfast Republix

We’ll get our “French Toast on the Rocks” at Breakfast Republic.

Image via Breakfast Republic

Breakfast Republic, Various | If you’re looking for coffee, don’t sleep on this trendy breakfast restaurant that now has a dozen locations in San Diego. You’ll find its signature Breakfast Republic Blend in restaurants, and the menu includes boozy coffee cocktails like the “Drunken Oreo Cream” and “French Toasts on the Rocks.” Plus, you can grab some non-alcoholic drinks at its to-go counterpart, Eggies.

We always have time for more coffee. If you know a coffee shop that’s not on the list, let us know.

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