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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
GEM Coffee, Talmadge | From its sunny patio space and floor-to-ceiling windows to its reputation for giving back to the community, GEM will have you looking on the bright side.
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 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.
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.
We always have time for more coffee. If you know a coffee shop that’s not on the list, let us know.