Dough and Joe (translation: Bread with Coffee)

Charlie’s Best Bread
1808 Garnet Ave. (near Lamont)
San Diego, CA 92109

Charlie’s Best Bread has been located in the beach area since 1988, first as a bakery in Bird Rock before moving to their Pacific Beach location on Garnet.  While I wasn’t paying attention about 4 years ago they have changed their store’s concept from a bread store to a bakery that includes coffee as well as scones, muffins, and more.

I was surprised and delighted. They had me from the moment I saw the sample pumpkin chocolate muffins. And, then when I noticed the scones come in two sizes, I knew this was a place I need to breeze in and out of occasionally.

I’ve visited a few times over the past two months and knew Patty and I had to try it together this month.

On this month’s coffee outing we each had coffee (local Cafe Moto) in “real” cups and sat outside the store for some fresh air. Their coffee menu includes the usual choices of a cortado, macchiato, Americano, & Mexican mocha, but they also offer cold brew and pour overs.

Please note: the bakery’s aroma  is fabulous! I bought a large raspberry scone that’s about the size of a Frisbee for $3.00. The small scones are 75 cents. Who can go wrong with scones?

The smell of baked goods greeted us.

Although our blog is typically about coffee, this entry is about the delicious baked goods you can have with your coffee and what’s better than that?

It’s time to give Charlie’s Best Bread with coffee a try. Yum! There’s plenty of free parking in front, so there’s no excuse not to come.

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 6:00am to 7:00pm and Sundays 8:00am to 7:00pm.

Look for this store front off Garnet Ave. near Kendall St.


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Syphon Coffee on Sept. 29, National Coffee Day

4191 Adams Ave. at Edgeware Rd.
San Diego, CA 92116

For National Coffee Day we wanted to try something new so we ventured to Kensington for syphon coffee at Tanuki. What’s syphon coffee? It’s a vacuum process requiring 2 chambers and a mini-science experiment. But what does that mean? Wikipedia explains the process in terms I didn’t understand until I saw the process at work in Tanuki. For visual learners like me here are the steps in photos:

First a flame is lit under the brass chamber containing water:

Then coffee grounds are put in the glass chamber on the left:

As the water in the right chamber is heated, expansion forces it through the narrow tube connecting the 2 and into the coffee grounds where the coffee brewing starts:

Finally, the hot coffee is forced back through the connecting tubes into the brass chamber where it will soon be ready to drink:
The process was invented by Loeff of Berlin in the 1830s. If you’d like it explained in more scientific terms see

The staff at Tanuki will light the flame and monitor the process (taking about 10 minutes and making 16 ounces). We were advised to wait before sampling the coffee as it tastes better when it’s slightly cooler. There is only one syphon coffee maker, so know that you may have to wait your turn.

The beans for the syphon are from Intelligentsia. While they are not a local roaster they are a highly regarded company with several San Diego coffee shops serving their coffee. To learn more about them see  If you order a cup of drip coffee at Tanuki those beans come from local OB Beans ( “OB” stands for “Ocean Beach”, the neighborhood at the end of Interstate 8 in San Diego.

Our syphon experience was $8. Tea, sake, sushi, salads, and pastries are also available. Monday through Saturday they open at 10:00am and close at 10:00pm, but closed from 3:00 to 5:00pm. They are closed on Sundays. Free parking is available in front of the building at Edgeware Rd., but there is also plenty of free street parking along Adams Ave.

Why the name Tanuki? It’s a raccoon-like character from ancient Japanese folklore.



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Here’s What’s New in Our Hood

Kakawa Coffee
3655 Voltaire Street (near Chatsworth)
San Diego, CA 921016
Follow them on Facebook for updates

There’s a new coffee shop nearby so we made a plan to visit. It’s only been open seven weeks and they haven’t even had their grand opening, but we had to give Kakawa a try.

A posting explained their name: “Kakawa was the Olmec and Mayan word now called cacao. Chocolate, from the Nahuatl Aztec language, chocolati. The official name for the cacao tree is from Theobroma Cacao, meaning food of the gods in Greek. Theo=God and broma=food.”

I loved their drip coffee…smooth with no burnt aftertaste. Patty loved their cappuccino…a traditional cappuccino laced with dark chocolate & cardamom.

On tap…

Kombucha and cold brew are on draft. They offer freshly baked bakery items and are determining their future sandwich choices. There’s a “Happy Hour” from 2-4 when a Frappuccino-type drink is featured.

It’s a small place with a knowledgeable barista who seems committed to excellence. Seating was limited the day we visited, but we learned more furnishings will be arriving soon. Off street parking worked for us, but there isn’t a public bathroom.

We’re always eager to try new places and always wish them success! Visit them Monday through Friday from 6:00 AM to 6:00PM or Saturday and Sunday 7:00 AM to 5:00PM.




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Our Craft Coffee Community

Coava Coffee Roasters
400 W. Broadway (at Columbia)
San Diego, CA 92101

When Portland’s Coava Coffee Roasters went looking for a 2nd location they chose San Diego over the bigger markets in San Francisco & LA. Why? According to their website it’s because we are a “burgeoning craft coffee community”.  Yet according to one of their San Diego baristas, “San Francisco is overloaded with craft coffee & no one wanted to move to LA!” Whatever the reason, it’s nice to be recognized for our craft coffee scene.

Coava offers traditional drip coffees, espresso options, pour overs, cold brew, & nitro infused coffee. I had a cortado, or a shot of espresso with equal amounts of hot milk & a little froth on top. I think of it as a short cappuccino, although that’s not an official description. Their version was just what I needed for a quick afternoon pick-me-up!

Chemex pour over

Coava coffee choices

Should you want a beverage other than coffee, they offer select juices, tea, wine, and beer. They also offer pastries, parfaits, sandwiches, salads, and soups.

Wednesdays at 11:00am they host a free coffee cupping  experience. No reservations are needed, unless you’re coming with a large group. Cupping is the professional
practice of smelling, then slurping coffee when evaluating for purchase or in competition. It’s also offered just for the enjoyment, as they do at Coava & other roasters in town.

So what does Coava mean? We were told it was the first written word found for coffee beans. I didn’t verify this on Google, though…sometimes it’s nice just to believe something is true!

Coava is at street level of the Westin Hotel, just west of the court house. I mention this as it’s a perfect stop from the trolley on your way to jury duty. Get a cup of strong coffee before being bored to tears while waiting in the jury pool!

They’re open 6am-6pm, Mon.-Fri. and 7am-6pm Sat. & Sun.  Parking is a problem anywhere downtown, though. Don’t make a special trip just for coffee, but should you be here on business or pleasure know that meters will cost you $1.25 per hour with a 2 hour limit, but Sundays the meters are free & you can stay all day!


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South Park…the neighborhood, not the TV show

Communal Coffee
2221 Fern St.
San Diego, CA 92104
Open Daily 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM

This month’s coffee outing took us to South Park. We visited the North Park Communal Coffee location previously and loved it so we were excited to investigate their newest location. And, we’re glad we did! Delicious cappuccinos are served from a vintage tricked-out trailer.   Americanos, Cortados, Lattes (in lavender, rose, caramel, and banana flavors) and more were also offered. They use Sightglass Coffee, a San Francisco roaster:

The usual morning treats were for sale, along with Nomad Donuts. I’ve never tried Nomad Donuts, but it’s my understanding that they are a popular donut these days. They are a San Diego company with the descriptive line “Globally Inspired in America’s Finest City” on their website,

This is a welcoming outdoor space with lots of seating and even a cozy spot for kids to play while parents kick back with coffee and a sweet or savory treat. Pets are welcome, too.

We were told music and movies are planned for the summer. Sign up for their online newsletter at It definitely has a hip-and-happening vibe!

Like the North Park location, this location of Communal Coffee offers fresh and charming bouquets for sale, plus coffee cups, decorated shopping bags, and coffee, of course.

Take a look at the fabulous murals within just a couple of blocks of the coffee shop (some posted below). South Park is also known for their Craftsman homes. Their annual home tour is May 19, 2018, with tickets available at

Off-street parking was plentiful the morning we visited, but a few spots on nearby Juniper are metered.  Just a little alert: They don’t have indoor seating for those scarce rainy days nor toilets, but don’t let that deter you. This was a fun outing and I was definitely impressed.

Look for this mural by Shepard Fairey on 30th St. between Juniper & Ivy.

On Blacktree Barberia next door (facing the cafe)

Communal Coffee seating area mural

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A home for early risers…

Brick and Bell Cafe
976 Felspar St. (at Cass)
San Diego, CA 92109

This 1920’s Pacific Beach home welcomes coffee lovers as early as 5:30am.

Do you wake up early but find most coffee shops aren’t open yet? Head to Pacific Beach because Brick and Bell is open at 5:30am! They brew a mean cup of coffee and roast their own beans, shared at their 3 locations (see below). There are a variety of coffee drinks and syrup flavored lattes. We couldn’t resist the lavender latte. You’ll also have a choice of their outstanding home baked scones in large or small sizes. There
are many flavors, but my favorite is maple walnut.

Wake up to smell the coffee and the roses!

This location is a charming yellow cottage with roses and a huge magnolia tree offering shade and even more charm. There is plenty of indoor, porch, or garden seating, but dogs are limited to the porch or garden seating areas.

In a hurry to grab and go? While there’s no drive through there are several green curbs in front which are usually open for a quick escape or take a short walk to the beach (only 2 blocks away). Just pay attention to street cleaning days (a ticketable offense). The day is posted, but it varies with the side of the street you use.

Hungry? Besides their delicious scones, they offer other breakfast breads, oatmeal, sandwiches, soups, and more.

Plenty of fresh scones…

A little history on the property:  I had long been a fan of Café 976, the previous coffee shop at this location until they changed from counter coffee service to table service.  Sorry, but when I want coffee I want it NOW, I don’t want to wait so I’m thrilled with the change back to counter service.

Why the name Brick and Bell when there are no bricks on this wooden building? The original Brick and Bell at 928 Silverado in La Jolla is a brick building with a bell just outside their front door. The other Brick and Bell location in La Jolla is 2216 Avenida de la Playa (near La Jolla Shores Dr.)

Open 5:30am Mon.-Fri. and at 6:00am on weekends (but I’m told someone will help you if you’re there before 6:00am on weekends). They close at 5:30pm Mon.-Thurs. and at 9:30pm on Fri. and Sat.

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One Cup at a Time

Philz Coffee
8849 Villa La Jolla Dr. (at Nobel Dr.)
The Shops at La Jolla Village
San Diego, CA 92137

Patty visited Philz in San Francisco’s Mission District a couple of years ago and we were eager to try the new San Diego location. We usually visit independent coffee shops, but Philz has locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Encinitas, and Washington, D.C.

Its service model is different from other coffee spots we’ve enjoyed. The customer talks directly to the barista to place the coffee order and that same barista makes the coffee at their personal coffee station. They have an extensive menu with fascinating names and clear explanations of what you are getting, but you can adjust it to your whims. According to their website, “You won’t find any lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, or pre-brews. Instead, you’ll find over 20 customized blends made from high quality beans from around the world.”

I had to try the Canopy of Heaven (herbs, citrus, strawberry) and Patty had a Tantalizing Turkish (cardamon, herbs, tobacco…not actual tobacco). The menu has the coffee divided into three categories: dark, medium, and lighter blends. The menu is so intriguing that it serves as a magnet to encourage me to return and try another cup. Good looking food, too.
The day we visited the place was bustling with every table occupied and every single person (with the exception of two men having a conversation) was on their computer or phone. What happened to going out to savor a lovely experience without being connected to WIFI? Oh well, we enjoyed a table outside.

Philz was started by Phil (with no z) from Lebanon. He started a quest 25 years ago to make a really great cup of coffee. Their coffees are customized blends crafted over time by Phil. Many drinks include a mint leaf on the top. Visit their website at for the full story.

Parking is plentiful and free. Orders may be placed in advance for easy pick-up at the front counter.


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