Surf’s Up!

Surf Check
1404 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. (at Pt. Loma Ave.)
Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA 92107
619-961-8676

Look for this mini-trailer at 1401 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., just one block before Sunset Cliffs Park on your right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Surf Check, just one block north of Sunset Cliffs Park in Ocean Beach, gives you the  opportunity to check the surf while enjoying your morning joe. Look for the mini trailer in the parking lot of Cliffside Auto Clinic & swing in for a dark or medium roast cup of Bird Rock Coffee. They also offer specialty espresso drinks like The Dawn Patrol & Wave of the Day (see descriptions on their surf board menu posted here).  You can get a smoothie, acai bowl, and muffins, too. They open 30 minutes before sunrise so grab a steaming cup & head one block south to the stretch of park that runs along Sunset Cliffs Blvd. There’s usually plenty of free parking here.

If it’s the end of your day there’s no place better to watch the sunset than from the top of the cliffs along Sunset Cliffs Blvd. They offer hot dogs at Surf Check should you want dinner as you watch the sun go down. They’re open until 30 minutes past sunset. A deck should be coming soon.

If you’re not familiar with the cliffs here, know that they are unstable so please heed the warning signs about getting too close to the edge. I volunteer at nearby Cabrillo National Monument, so I’ll give you the same advice I give to the guests:  If you’re heading down to the beaches below I hope you’re as sure footed as a llama. And please don’t jump in…you don’t know what rocks are just below the surface of the water!

See fabulous photos of Sunset Cliffs and comments from visitors at https://www.yelp.com/biz/sunset-cliffs-natural-park-san-diego. This is what the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association has to say about Sunset Cliffs Park: https://oceanbeachsandiego.com/attractions/parks/sunset-cliffs-natural-park-and-point-loma-lighthouse. While you’re in the neighborhood, drive out to Cabrillo National Monument for more fabulous views of the ocean and downtown San Diego all the way to Mexico:  https://www.nps.gov/cabr/index.htm.

 

 

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Bonjour from South Park!

Café Madeleine
2248 30th St. (at Juniper)
San Diego, CA 92104
619-544-1735
http://www.cafemadeleinesd.com/

Please place Café Madeleine, an adorable Parisian-style coffee shop, at the top of your      “must visit” coffee spot list. I loved it! I felt transported, just a tad, to the streets of Paris, with the cafe’s Parisian music, decor, and pastries including croissants, pain au chocolat, madeleines, macarons, and crepes (sweet and savory). I can’t vouch for the entire menu, but I’d embrace the idea of working my way one-by-one through the delightful offerings.

I had a latte served in an Illy cup while Patty enjoyed a Mexican Mocha. The Illy family has been “perfecting espresso coffee in Trieste, Italy since 1933.” Two complimentary, mini-madeleines were served on a separate plate adding a delightful touch to our outing. This got us thinking, “What’s the story behind a madeleine?”

A quick investigation on the Internet explains that there are various stories behind the origin of madeleines. Since Patty has been on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, I liked the story that a pilgrim named Madeleine brought back the recipe from her journey. I particularly liked this option because madeleines are small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape and the shell is the most iconic symbol of this pilgrimage (known as the Camino). Whatever their origin, the madeleine is one of France’s most popular desserts.

Back to the Café Madeleine experience! Fresh flowers in a vintage teapot welcomed us at the table we enjoyed by the front window. It seemed to us to be the perfect location for enjoying both the indoor and outdoor ambience. Outside the cafe are red umbrellas, fresh flowers on tables, and Parisian bistro chairs. Dogs seem to be welcomed.

 

There was plenty of nearby parking including 30-minute parking in front of the cafe. Hours are 7:00am-6:00pm Mon.-Fri. and Sat./Sun. 7:00am-7:00pm.

Café Madeleine opened on May 31, 2010 and my only question is . . . what took us so long to visit?

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Keeping It Classy San Diego

Lofty Coffee Little Italy Café & Bakery
444 W. Cedar St. (at Columbia St.)
San Diego, CA 92101
https://loftycoffee.com/new-little-italy-cafe-and-bakery/

I fell in love with Lofty Coffee’s Turkish Latte 4 years ago when I discovered their Encinitas coffee shop.  They have other excellent options, but it’s their bold espresso with a hint of cardamom that kept me going back. With their new Little Italy location I don’t have to drive to Encinitas. It’s the largest in their chain of 4 (other Lofty Coffee locations at https://loftycoffee.com/locations/). This site, opened just over one month ago, is a modern space with a bit of a bay view. Design lovers will also appreciate the Beaumont Building designed by Rob Quigley next door.

Lofty Coffee at Cedar and Columbia with the Quigley Beaumont Building behind.

While the Turkish Latte is my favorite, I’m intrigued by their Kyoto cold brew system (see photo). It looks like a science experiment, but is actually a very slow drip cold brewing process.

The Kyoto cold brew drip process.

I keep a bag of their “Keeping It Classy San Diego” espresso in my freezer should I want to brew a pot of Lofty Coffee at home (although mine is never as good as their Turkish Latte). For those of you who missed the Chevy Chase movie Anchorman, he plays a San Diego TV anchorman who closed his news show with, “Stay classy San Diego”.

Another reason to come: they make their own bake goods that are locally sourced & organic.

There are a few things to know about Little Italy, though:  1. Parking is always tough! You’re better off  coming by Uber, taking the trolley, or biking here.  2. Saturday morning might not be the best time to come as the café is on the Farmer’s Market street (unless you don’t mind fighting the crowds). I prefer Sunday as it’s quieter & metered street parking is free on Sundays (if you can find a spot, that is). But Little Italy is always worth facing its parking challenges. Check this website for other reasons to come to Little Italy: www.littleitalysd.com/events/calendar

Open M-F 6:00am-6:00pm, Sat./Sun. 7:00am-8:00pm

 

Posted in architecture, Coffee shops in Little Italy, cold brewed coffee, Kyoto cold press coffee, modern setting | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Not a Dark Horse

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
811 25th St., Unit 100
San Diego, CA 92102
619-344-0500
http://www.darkhorsecoffeeroasters.com/

“San Diego Beverage Times” announced that in August 2016 San Diego was named the 6th best city for coffee fanatics. Patty and I have been out and about for over 5 years investigating new coffee spots each month so this isn’t an enormous surprise to us! We’ve been watching San Diego’s explosion of interest in coffee with great interest.

This month’s coffee adventure took us to Dark Horse Coffee Roasters (AKA  D.H.C.R.) in Golden Hills. We’ve had Dark Horse coffee before at other locations, but this was our first visit to their shop right off Highway 94 at 25th St.

Dark Horse roasts their own coffee so the smell of roasting beans rises up to greet you upon entering. The shop is decorated with a combination of industrial warehouse and contrasting polished, tree-trunk benches with bark edges.

They are located in the “You Are Here” complex which was designed by Foundation for Form (www.foundationforform.com), located in the complex across the street (next to an Irving Gill home). The You Are Here complex is a mix-use structure that incorporates an existing 1965 Texaco Station into its design. And, yes, it’s very cool.

Foundation for Form incorporated a former gas station into this mixed use project. D.H.C.R. faces 25th St. with apartments above.

Foundation for Form incorporated a former gas station into this mixed use project. D.H.C.R. faces 25th St. with apartments above.

Back to the coffee, their signature coffee is The Champ, a latte with cinnamon and honey. Patty tried the Salted Maple latte (delish) and I tried an ordinary cup. Pour over setups are lined up for orders and the place was bustling with customers, but plenty of employees and places to sit are available to accommodate everyone. We visited on a drizzly day, but there is also a lovely outside area to sit as well.

We saw, but didn’t try, their house-made vegan donuts which are from their Skinny Donuts sideline (http://www.skinny-donuts.com).

The owner of Dark Horse is a big Beatles fan with George Harrison, the founder of Dark Horse Records, being his favorite Beatle. “Dark Horse” is also the fifth studio album by George Harrison.

We noticed a Simpson cartoon incorporating Dark Horse logos, by Luie B Cartoons:

Daniel & Bryan Charlson in front of D.H.C.R. in Normal Heights, by Luie B Cartoons

Daniel & Bryan Charlson in front of D.H.C.R. in Normal Heights, by Luie B CartoonsCartoons:  http://luiebcartoons.tumblr.com/

Other Dark Horse locations are in Normal Heights at 3260 Adams Ave., North Park at 3794  30th St., and Truckee, CA and they do a fabulous wholesale business so you’re sure to discover Dark Horse coffee in other shops.

This location provides easy on and off freeway access and plenty of free street parking on 25th St. Open daily 7AM to 6PM.

We appreciate and applaud the “We Welcome” sign by their front door (see photo below).

Honestly . . . it was a mini-vacation right in our own hometown. Check it out!
20170207_082110

Posted in Coffee shops in San Diego, cold brewed coffee, Foundation for Form, modern setting, nitro coffee, roaster | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Eleven Pumps of Coffee

Swami’s Café
3924 W. Point Loma Blvd. near the Sports Arena
2920 University Ave. in the heart of North Park
8284 La Mesa Blvd. in downtown La Mesa
1506 Encinitas Blvd., in Encinitas east of I-5
1163 S. Coast Highway, Encinitas across from Swami’s Beach
202 N.Coast Highway, Oceanside
12845 Poway Rd., Poway
www.swamiscafe.com

That's right, 11 pumps of coffee at the above Swami's!

That’s right, 11 pumps of coffee at the above Swami’s!


There’s rain forecast through next week & on rainy days I love to curl up with a cup of coffee & a good book. Given that it rains so rarely here I usually stay home with my own coffee, but with a daily deluge forecast I’m looking for daily coffee alternatives. Swami’s, a long time Encinitas café, now has 9 locations throughout San Diego County with 11 coffee pumps at 7 of their locations (see addresses above). For $2.50 (plus tip) you can visit Guatemala, Mexico, Hawaii, France, and Colombia through Swami’s coffees. If you prefer sweeter choices, they have vanilla nut, caramel, & blueberry flavored coffees, plus soy & almond milks. Know that they have decaf choices, too, should you overdo it on the caffeine. Their coffees come from Gavina (www.gavina.com).

Most Swami’s are decorated with a mural or two by Kevin Anderson. Check out his Point Loma & La Mesa murals posted below or check out more examples here:  http://artmurals.us/

There’s a Swami’s within walking distance of my home, but with 8 other locations there’s bound to be one near you. I’ve got 2 books & a library nearby if I finish them both before the rain stops. Don’t have a library near you? Check out this site for a free book: https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/.  Hooray for rain, hooray for libraries, & hooray for coffee choices on a rainy day!

Kevin Anderson's mural at the W. Point Loma Swami's

Kevin Anderson’s mural at the W. Point Loma Swami’s

This mural by Kevin is at the La Mesa Swami's.

This mural by Kevin is at the La Mesa Swami’s.

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Christmas Traditions

Bay Park Coffee
4130 Napier St.
San Diego, CA 92110
619-275-4000
www.bayparkcoffee.com

I have 3 things I must do every December:  see the Christmas lights on Garrison Street, see the Hotel Del Coronado Christmas tree, & have a peppermint mocha. Of course I do all the other frantic preChristmas activities, these 3 are my reward after the holiday prep is done. So after checking the first 2 off my list I set my sights on #3:  finding the perfect peppermint mocha. It’s more fun if it’s a new place every year, so when my blog partner & I visited Bay Park Coffee I noticed with special interest their peppermint mocha sign…it was December, after all. I was sold when they told me they used real candy canes in their preparation. You judge for yourself how you think they did by the picture below.

 It certainly wins the adorable decoration award.

It certainly wins the adorable decoration award.

They also win the friendly barista award. Add home baked goods like banana bread & scones, plus Cravory cookies, and I was in love. Their undoctored coffee (that is, without candy canes) was good, too. Award winning Klatch Coffee out of Rancho Cucamonga (https://www.klatchroasting.com/) does their roasting. Look for Klatch Coffee in LAX & Tokyo, as well. The Bay Park shop features a daily list of “Drinks of the World”. When we were there it was Vietnam & France. For tea drinkers they featured a London Fog Earl Grey creation, plus they sell loose leaf organic teas.

Friendly baristas will greet you...

Friendly baristas will greet you…

Other bonuses to this small neighborhood coffee shop is free street parking and a corner for kids to get creative. Open 6:00am -5:00pm Mon.-Fri. & 7:00am-5:00pm on weekends. (Note, their website says they’re open until 7:00pm, but that is not the case at this time.)

a corner for kids

There’s even a corner for kids.

So when you need a break from the frenzy of December, head to this tiny café in quiet Bay Park, off Morena Blvd. (just off the I-5 between Sea World Dr. & Clairemont Dr.).  You’ll be glad you did.

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Coffee + Creativity

Communal Coffee
2335 University Ave. (at Texas)
San Diego, CA 92104
619-920-7887
http://www.communalcoffee.com

The more we visit coffee shops the more I realize that there are so many ways to offer an unusual coffee experience. Communal Coffee is definitely a switch from other coffee spots I’ve enjoyed and I love it! Communal Coffee shares space with Native Poppy so their pairing line is “Coffee + Flowers.” How’s that for a unique collaboration?

They are located on University, a busy street, but as soon as I took one step inside their shop it felt like I was walking into a new taste and sight adventure. I was fascinated by the ambiance they created mixing industrial with mid-century modern with touches of clever and a dash of femininity. Both spaces merge seamlessly sharing the same design aesthetic.

Chemex coffee is one of the options at this creative cafe.

Chemex coffee is one of the options at this creative cafe.

Their coffee menu offers interesting combinations such as maple cardamon latte and lavender honey latte. I saw the traditional and seasonal flights of lattes too late for my order, but I’m certain to return for a flight. I watched with interest as a customer walked to his seat with three small lattes balanced on a wood flight board. Ah! I tried the batch brew to taste their regular cup of coffee. It’s brewed by Sightglasss Coffee in San Francisco (www.sightglasscoffee.com).

Native Poppy, the flower portion of the enterprise, is named after California’s state flower, the poppy. Their floral design aesthetic is a natural look of flowers—as if you simply walked through a field of wildflowers and carefully selected and arranged the flowers with love. Their arrangements are lovely and welcoming and even they provide a flow chart for deciding what best meets your needs and a menu of flowers. A selection of quality gifts completes the space.

Open every day from 6:00 to 6:30 (with the exception of some holidays). There are a few parking spaces on the Texas St. side of the building, otherwise there is free street parking on Texas St.

I love our monthly outings and they never cease to amaze me and remind me that San Diego is full of treasures around every corner.

We couldn't help but smile at this character in their garden seating area.

We couldn’t help but smile at this character in their garden seating area.

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