Asian Daycation

Paris Baguette at the San Diego Zion Market
7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. (at Convoy St.)
San Diego, CA 92111

Sometimes you just need a little daycation and this month we decided on an Asian Daycation. We zipped on up the highway to Zion Market, a Korean marketplace, in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. The large building houses the supermarket, but also a variety of restaurants and services including a travel company, hair saloon, and clothing stores. We first did a spin around the building looking at each restaurant’s menu and then browsed the market’s aisles. From freshly prepared to frozen foods are all there to entice you to try a Korean inspired menu for your next meal. They “strive to give customers a deeper understanding to the culture of Korea by the distribution of various foods and household goods.” Here’s their website:

Paris Baguette caught our eye and we strolled the rows of their sweet and savory coffee cup cakeofferings. We, of course, were completely impressed with the cappuccino-coffee-cup styled cake (pictured). Can’t wait to figure out when I can buy that cake to share with friends!

We split a coffee croissant and each had an Adagio Coffee: one traditional and one hazel nut. Both were delicious, but just the awesome smell of the hazel nut coffee was reason enough to select it. Besides pump pots of these two coffee choices, they also offer the usual coffee shop selections from lattes to Americanos and from hot to iced, all at reasonable prices. Adagio beans “are responsibly sourced from an eco-friendly environment and certified by the Rainforest Alliance”. (By the way, the croissant was delicious, as was the garlic croissant that I took home.)

Paris Baguette was established in 1986 and opened its 100th store in 1992 the same year they opened their Korean-French Institute of Baking in Seoul. This premier baking franchise now has more than 3700 worldwide locations with two of them in San Diego. To learn more about the history of Paris Baguette and see their menu, visit

We noticed a small sign stating there was a Korean Library and it piqued our interest. The library is tucked away upstairs, but the librarian was charming and so kind. What an outstanding selection of books for all ages waiting for those who want to find a book in Korean.

As we made our way towards the highway to return home we swung by Daiso Japan (8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.), the equivalent of a Japanese $1.50 store. The store is cheery, bright, well-lit, clean, and full of interesting items all with Japanese packaging and labels.

A full morning of all things Asian left us feeling like we had been on a mini vacation with each of us knowing we’ll have to figure out another daycation adventure soon.


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The Magic of Nitro Coffee

West Bean Coffee Roasters
2820 Historic Decatur Rd.
Liberty Public Market
San Diego, CA 92106
619-542-9142 (downtown location)

Nitro coffee is served in a goblet at their downtown store.

Nitro coffee is served in a goblet at their downtown store.

Perhaps you’ve heard the buzz about nitro coffee, but like me, you don’t really understand what it is. The word “nitro” doesn’t sound like something safe to drink (a little like drinking cleaning fluid), but when it’s infused in coffee magic happens! First of all, you’re not going to buy a bottle of nitrogen to put a splash in your coffee. It’s a colorless, odorless gas that is shot through a tap to make the magic happen. Somehow when nitrogen meets the black cold brew coffee at West Bean Coffee a creamy rich texture with the illusion of cream results. Look at the photo to the right & surely you’ll think that this isn’t just a goblet of black coffee. It is, but it isn’t…it is black coffee with the invisible addition of nitrogen.

There’s a double meaning to my use of the word “buzz” above. Cold brew coffee has more caffeine than standard drip coffee. Another magic trick? No, it’s simply the fact that cold brew coffee has a higher bean to water ratio & takes at least 24 hours to brew. Don’t be confused by the word “brew” as it doesn’t brew with heat, it just sits in water for around 24 hours. Here’s a recipe to try at home: But it’s much easier to go to West Bean for theirs. In fact, you can buy a growler of their cold brew coffee to take home.

I’m a huge fan of their nitro cold brewed coffee, but they have other intriguing sounding coffees. Take their Long Black, which they tell me is an upside down Americano…I’ve got to go back to see this one! They also have a salted caramel latte, but there’s no magic here…anything combining salt & caramel is a proven hit.

The West Bean is in Liberty Public Market which is in Liberty Station, the former Naval Training Center off Rosecrans Street or Harbor Drive. Go hungry as there are plenty of fabulous food options in the market, but if you go on a weekend there might be a wait. There’s also plenty of free parking here. Their website will give you directions: The website says they’re open from 11:00am-7:00pm, but that’s just when every business will be open. Of course West Bean Coffee will be open at 7:00am for your morning nitro.

Their downtown location at 240 Broadway has even more drink choices, as well as bakery goods. They’re open weekdays 6:00am-6:00pm, weekends 8am-3:00pm, but parking is tough to find on Broadway. Their beans are roasted at 5839 Mission Gorge Rd., but it’s not a coffee shop. Call if you’d like to schedule a tour: 425-359-7565.

Very friendly baristas will explain the nitro coffee process if you're still confused.

Very friendly baristas will explain the nitro coffee process if you’re still confused.

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Say Farewell

Espresso Mio
1920 Fort Stockton Dr.
San Diego, CA 92103

Stop to enjoy the coffee & a conversation...

Stop to enjoy the coffee & a conversation…

One of my favorite local coffee shops will be closing their doors at the end of June. (It’s a landlord issue.) This residential Mission Hills coffee shop has been a hidden treasure for 15 years. Locals walk over for a cup of coffee (roasted by Café Moto), getting the bonus of a restful seat overlooking their back canyon. For those of you driving, parking is no problem as there is plenty of street parking with no meters. Stop by before they’re gone. They close early, though (usually by 3:00pm).

While you’re there, wander the nearby streets to enjoy the Craftsman style homes, many of which make up the Fort Stockton Line Historic District ( Check out their active historical group at for future neighborhood walking tours. The neighborhood garden club also sponsors a spring garden walk.

Rumor has it that Espresso Mio may be opening a cart in the nearby Mission Hills Nursery at 1525 Fort Stockton Dr. ( Stay tuned…I’ll let you know if this rumor is true!

I'll miss this canyon view back patio.

I’ll miss this canyon view back patio.

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Keep Your Heart Open

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Heartsleeves Coffee 621 W. Fir Street (near India St.) San Diego, CA 92101 619-431-0231 Monday through Saturday 7AM to 6PM Sunday 7AM to 5PM Let me start with the bottom line: Please visit Heartsleeves Coffee in San Diego’s Little … Continue reading

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Aloha Ka’u Coffee

Last month I was in Vietnam enjoying their robust coffee. This month my blog partner is in Hawaii & sent this news:

Aloha to Ka'u Coffee!

Aloha to Ka’u Coffee!

I’m out and about right now and of course I’m on the lookout for some interesting and delicious coffee. I’m in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i. I know you’ve probably heard of the deliciousness that is Kona coffee. But, have you heard of Ka’u coffee?

Ka‘u is in the southern part of the Big Island. It’s the island’s largest district in terms of land area. You could put the entire island of Oahu in the Ka‘u district and still have space left. Although it is a large area, Ka‘u is one of the least populated districts. Ka‘u coffee is grown in their rich volcanic soils. Check out where the Ka’u district is on this map:

Each year they host a Ka‘u Coffee Festival and this year’s big event will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2016. You’ll enjoy music, talking to coffee professionals, or taking a farm or mill tour. The event will host numerous vendors selling locally made arts and crafts. For more info visit

In Hilo we made a joyful stop at its farmer’s market. Four delicious papayas for $1 and we’re feeling quite happy. We found a couple of vendors selling Ka’u coffee. We had a sample, then a cup, and we were sold.

We discovered Sharks Coffee at the farmer’s market and found they also grow macadamia nuts and make their own chocolate. We heard it pairs well with coffee, but we’re thinking it will also pair with a glass of red wine for later in our trip. The company offers From Tree to Cup coffee tours as well as chocolate tours including a chocolate making class. Their farm is located in the Papaikou area of Hilo. Learn more about them at

This new info makes me want to schedule another trip to the Big Island soon!


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Cafe Sua in San Diego

Saigon Coffee
At these farmers markets:
Hillcrest, 3960 Normal St. (at DMV), Sundays 9:00am to 2:00pm
Ocean Beach, Newport Ave., Wednesdays 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Oceanside, Tremont St. & Pier View Way, Thursdays 5:00pm to 9:00pm

Cafe Sua served on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Once stirred it becomes a caramel colored sweet coffee drink.

Cafe Sua served on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Once stirred it becomes a caramel colored sweet coffee drink.

Café Sua might not be a term you’re familiar with, but they were the two most important words I learned while in Vietnam last month. It’s their strong black coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk. That sounded too sweet to me (I don’t like sweetened coffee), but applying “when in Rome” to my Vietnam experience I ordered one & fell in love with this sweet combination. First of all it’s a process experience. Coffee is dripped into your glass with the sweetened condensed milk already in it…that’s right, a glass so you can watch the drip, drip, drip of your coffee (sort of like watching a lava lamp). See the photo of the process taken at a street café in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). The 2nd photo is of the kit for sale through Saigon Coffee at the farmers markets listed above.

Saigon Coffee offers the cold version at their farmers market stalls. Most local Vietnamese restaurants will have Cafe Sua on their menu, served cold or hot. If you want yours cold ask for Café Sua Da. You might also enjoy it with a fresh spring roll or pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup.

A cafe sua kit available through Saigon Coffee. Step-by-step directions are included.

A cafe sua kit available through Saigon Coffee. Step-by-step directions are included.

If you can’t make it to one of the farmers market listed above, email to order coffee or their Café Sua kit by mail. It’s a whole lot cheaper than an air ticket to Vietnam, although not as much fun!

Read more about San Diego’s Little Saigon District on El Cajon Blvd. between Euclid & Highland Ave.:


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A Progressive Coffee Party

Holsem Coffee
2911 University Avenue (near 30th in North Park)
San Diego, CA 92104

Hawthorn Coffee
3019 Adams Avenue (near 30th on the edge of Normal…Normal Heights, that is)
San Diego, CA 92116

The sleek, crisp lines of Holsem's space are very inviting...

The ambience of Holsem’s is very inviting and…

When we noticed there were two coffee shops near each other on our “must visit” list we decided to make it a progressive coffee party. Both shops are outstanding!

Our first shop was Holsem Coffee and the first impression was: Wow, what an inviting space! Its sleek, crisp, and clean lines are welcoming and artfully presented. There’s a variety of seating including tables, benches, and bar level stools. There is an outside space for a warm day.

...but so is their menu. We'll be back to try these coffee enhanced desserts!

…so is their creative menu. We’ll be back to try these coffee enhanced desserts!










A great ambience is important, but can they deliver the coffee? Absolutely YES! What a menu. We noticed taps that serve cold teas and coffees. I couldn’t resist and had a cold brew Ethiopian Virgecheffe, a region in Ethiopia. It was amazing with a bright flavor and a hint of apricot, while Patty had their signature Holsem roasted hot coffee. They roast their own coffee offsite and it is currently only available onsite.

Their menu is inspiring. Both of us will be making future trips to work our way down their enticing menu. It’s definitely worth multiple visits. The menu doesn’t seem to be listed on their website, but includes such temptations as a baklava latte with anise, nutmeg, date syrup, and milk or a Nutella cold brew. So many choices! I took home a cinnamon, raisin scone home for a treat later.

They opened in May 2015. Their website has a blog and brewing guides tab, but right now it hasn’t been updated so I signed up for future emails to inform me of special coffees and articles.

Holsem is easy to find as it’s located right by the North Park sign over University Avenue. Parking was easy and plentiful the morning we visited.

Their website proclaims: “Uplifting, exciting flavor and design.” Those perfectly selected words describe this amazing coffee shop.

So . . . on to our second coffee shop.

I have to say I was worried about the second shop since we loved Holsem’s so much, but I needn’t have worried as I was blown away by how much I loved Hawthorn Coffee. I shall return!

What are the chances of having two amazing coffee shops in one day?

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to be served by one of Hawthorn’s owners. He explained the Hawthorn tree logo to us and their commitment to communication and excellence. We’ve been to numerous coffee shops, but I was so impressed by the owner’s kindness and helpfulness. The store opened December 20 and we hope they’ll be open for many, many years and wish them much success!

The owners are a son-and-father team who state on their website “Coffee is our passion. But our soft spot will always be there for the people we get to meet and know.” That’s what they’ve posted on their website and the store’s vibe reflects that statement. We felt so welcomed at this cozy shop.

Hawthorne coffee is served in individual glass pots to pour at your pleasure.

Hawthorne coffee is served in individual glass pots to pour at your pleasure.

We’ve visited many coffee shops, but the presentation of our cups of coffee at this shop was the best ever. Our coffee was served on a small, wood tray with the coffee cup and a glass serving of the coffee to pour into the cup. It was an impressive and memorable presentation.

But . . . what about the coffee? Yes! It was just as impressive and memorable. We tried a cup of the Foxy Coffee and the Flying Goat Coffee. Foxy Coffee is a local small roasting company while Flying Goat is from the owner’s hometown of Sonoma. Both were satisfying. Both screamed, “Come visit again!” And, we will.

I love the store’s facade of vintage tile remaining from stores from long ago and they are complimented by the Hawthorn tree logo in tile behind their counter.

Their website’s home page states “The Craft of Fine Coffee” and “Exploring the Delicious while the “Who We Are” page states “Sublime” across the page.

“Sublime” . . . yes it is.

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