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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Coffee That Inspires

The DOJO Cafe
4350 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA  92105

Shade covers or heaters, depending on the weather, make for comfortable outdoor seating.

If you like good coffee and inspiring stories, read on. The DOJO Coffee Culture Community grew out of an empty lot on El Cajon Blvd. at 44th St. to address the lack of safe, culturally reflective, and productive spaces in City Heights. An empty lot was a blank slate for locals to congregate, network, and develop or show case their talents.

It’s a community gathering place with good coffee, too, similar to The Quartyard in East Village. An onsite trailer provides some great brews with coffee beans from local Dark Horse Coffee Roasters.

Drink variety means there’s something for every taste.

Traditional coffee and tea drinks are available, but so are Horchata lattes, Jamaica, Viet Cold Brew, and their own creation: Dojo Spice, a delicious mix of espresso, almond milk, cinnamon, and allspice. Loved it! They also offer pastries & snacks.

The DOJO sponsors free inspiring workshops, like Reach Your Goals and Business Strategies for Artists. They also have free dance lessons at least twice a month. Salsa, cambia, bachata, anyone? The Hoover High Jazz Band practices here, which sounds like a free concert to me. And Mommy & Me classes are in the works. For more free events check out their Facebook page.

Why the name The DOJO? Because the term DOJO is a Japanese term which literally means “place of the way,” and here in the States it generally refers to a martial arts  training place, but they say The DOJO Cafe will serve as a safe training place for aspiring residents in underserved communities to discover their way. From the staff members we met I’d say it’s working.

Parking can be tight. We found street parking on Fairmont or 44th St., north of El Cajon Blvd. If this location sounds vaguely familiar, it’s perhaps because you remember the jingle about a certain Ford dealership at “Fairmont and El Cajon”. The DOJO is in their space, next to the Copley-Price YMCA.  Come by for  a game of bucket pong, but check it out soon as apartments are slated for the lot in the next few years.

Bucket pong was a new game for me, but I loved it right away!

Open Mon.-Sat., 7:00am-6:00pm. Closed Sundays.

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It’s all about the vibe…

Roger’s Market at 64 Degrees, Revelle College, UCSD
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA  92093
see below for market map and parking information

This month’s adventure took us to Revelle College (part of UCSD) for a look at their residential dining experience, 64 Degrees. The name comes from the average water temperature in La Jolla, the founding year of Revelle College, and supposedly the height of Roger Revelle, the college founder.

The project has a variety of restaurant options, dining spaces, a market, and more. We got our coffee at Roger’s Market, which is part of 64 Degrees, and enjoyed sitting outside by the fire on chairs that were a modern take on Adirondack chairs. It’s a fascinating visual experience with its modern, clean lines and various spaces to sit, eat, drink, or just people watch. There’s even a small meditation room to tuck away for a quiet space.

We relaxed with our coffee by this outdoor fireplace…

…or relax by the fire inside.


The entrance if coming from La Jolla Playhouse. Roger’s Market is on the left.

Look for this striking photo on the east side of the building (enter Roger’s Market to the left).







We went on Sunday as parking is free and plentiful at the La Jolla Playhouse on the weekends. Because the area is near La Jolla Playhouse it can provide playgoers with alternative dining or coffee options before or after their theatre visit. Roger’s Market is open until 1:00am, unless the school is on break. Hours for Roger’s Market are listed here:

I’ve already signed up for an Urban Safaris walking tour with Patty to learn more about the UCSD campus:

Next on my personal to-do list is a visit to the Audrey Cafe (as in Audrey Geisel, wife of Dr. Seuss) on the 2nd floor of the UCSD Library:

It almost . . . just almost . . . makes me want to go to college again!

A campus map showing location of 64 Degrees, the Revelle College dining hall with Roger’s Market:,-117.241884,17z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x51e8bb9f09bfd68!8m2!3d32.8747459!4d-117.2420341?hl=en-US   We parked at La Jolla Playhouse, but wherever you park it’s important to honor all parking signs and pay any parking fees! It’s also an easy bike ride from Pacific Beach, University City, or La Jolla.

There are six colleges within UCSD, each with their own market and dining hall. A brief explanation of the six colleges is here:   These college dining options are open to the public, not just for students. There is also food and coffee at Price Center, the campus student center:

Coffee is fair trade and prices are reasonable.

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Waste Time Together

Scrimshaw Coffee
5542 El Cajon Blvd. (west of 56th St.)
San Diego, CA  92115

“Waste time together” is the slogan of Scrimshaw, a new coffee shop in the SDSU El Cajon Blvd. business district. But they’re not wasting time with their wonderful coffee, they’re working hard to give us this place to, as they say, waste time together. In other words, it’s a wonderful coffee shop to hang out with friends. I guess one could call that wasting time together. I just call it fabulous, thanks to creators Roger and Will.

Owner Roger made our Salted Maple Latte.

Right now their coffee beans are from Dark Horse Roasters (, but they are working on a signature roast of their own. They also offer some coffee drinks with Modern Times Coffee beans ( We enjoyed a seasonal Salted Maple Latte…what a treat! They’ll have a new seasonal drink in December.

Our delicious Salted Maple Latte…notice the handsome piece of wood that was selected & crafted for a cafe counter top.

They offer scones, donuts, bagels, & even Pop-Tarts to enjoy with their fabulous coffee.  We got animal crackers with our latte…a fun treat!


Scrimshaw Coffee is open 6am to 6pm daily. Parking is on the street without parking meters, but with a 2 hour limit.

Scrimshaw, the art form, began during a whaler’s downtime as carvings on whale bones or teeth, a folk art started in the early 1800’s (or at least first recorded then). The person doing scrimshaw is called a scrimshoner. If you’d like to learn more see:

Some of the cafe art work is below, along with a map from the late 1800’s of San Diego:

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Our Pumpkin Latte Search

Local Krave
3642 Midway Dr. (near Kemper St.)
San Diego, CA 92110
Find them on Facebook

We found our pumpkin treat!

Our search for an October pumpkin latte took us to Local Krave and a new experience in lattes…a Kraveman! What’s a Kraveman, right? It’s a local entrepreneur’s creation of coffee, grass fed butter, organic coconut oil, honey, and cream. Pumpkin and spices were added to create our October treat and were we ever pleased! It was almost like a meal in a cup (and I’m sure it was healthy for us).

Pull up a chair at this Banksy banner.

We took our drinks to the outside patio beside a Banksy banner. There are several more Banksy banners in the parking lot, which led me to wonder: How can they put expensive Banksy art work outside? I’m glad I asked because I learned Banksy art is public domain! See some examples of his work at  So now I’ve learned 2 things today:  Kraveman drinks are delicious & Banksy art work is within my budget!

Free parking in front of the Banksy banners.

Recognize these guys?






There’s more than a Kraveman drink here, though. They believe in promoting local roasters so every day a selection of 4 local roasters are offered, plus their own roast called Dangerous. The day we came there were offerings from Dark Horse, Virtuoso, Cafe Moto, and Bird Rock. Pick one and they’ll do a pour over for you. They’ll also sell the beans from any of the roasters represented that day. If you’re hungry they offer Belgian waffles, breakfast sandwiches, and acai bowls. But come by noon as they close at noon every day. Opening times are 6:00am Mon.-Fri. and 8:00am Sat. and Sun.

From noon on they are busy making ice cream and sorbets for Na Pali Coast Frozen Organics, although not sold here. I found mine at Grant’s Market in South Park, but it’s also available at Jimbo’s and other local markets (see where at

A look at the line-up of local coffee offered the day we were there. You can read the Kraveman recipe above (if you have good eyesight, that is).




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A New Coffee Spot to Celebrate National Coffee Day!

The Grounds Bean Bar
1571 La Playa Ave., near Ingraham St.
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 230-7188

September 29 is National Coffee Day and with that in mind we headed to a new coffee shop, The Grounds Bean Bar in Pacific Beach near the corner of La Playa and Ingraham streets, behind the long-established Rocky’s. It’s only been open for a couple of weeks, but it’s fabulous! Carson and Brynn are the co-owners and they are paying attention to what people want and responding.

Brynn designed the classy sign for their front window.

The decor definitely captured my attention with gorgeous black and white tiles on the coffee bar, a wall paper mural of tropical flowers and birds that were designed by them, and touches of gold to make it upscale and welcoming. It definitely is perfection in the atmosphere department!

These black and white tiles are stunning!

Now, to the coffee! I ordered an iced coffee and it was delicious and a chocolate croissant to go while Patty opted for hot coffee. Both of us were happy coffee drinkers. We sat outside at a large picnic table enjoying the space and the fresh air.

We absolutely adored the wheat bread with the sweet ricotta cheese, peaches, a balsamic reduction, and mint . . . oh my! I will return for this and I’m going to be happily checking out their menu in the future.

Their cheese, peach toast was a welcome birthday treat, as was their coffee!

Carson said they will be featuring local roasters and rotating them so guests will be able to enjoy and become familiar with our local coffee roasters. The day we visited they were featuring James and Virtuoso.

This is a Pacific Beach coffee shop that should not be missed!

The west side of the building really captured our attention with colorful hearts and the big bold word  COFFEE.

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Good Things Take Time

OB Beans Coffee Roasters           
4879 Newport Ave. (near Cable)
San Diego, CA 92107

Their philosophy is boldly announced on the wall of OB Beans.

Good things take time and that’s what the owners of OB Beans aim to do with their farm to cup philosophy. It’s about the relationship between the farmer and these friends who formed OB Beans and eventually you when you buy a cup of coffee from them. The owners have gone to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Oaxaca, Mexico, to buy beans directly from small coffee farmers. Meeting the farmer puts a face to the coffee and assures them that the farmers are being paid fairly while their beans maintain a high quality. I can attest to the quality of their cold brew and mochas! Read about their Guatemala journey at

But their mission doesn’t end with coffee…their website asks, “What if coffee was more than a jump start to your day?  Our mission is to do as much good as possible from farm to cup while helping people experience and enjoy fresh roasted, high quality, specialty coffee.” So in addition to providing a delicious cup of coffee, they give back to the local community, as well as where they purchase their beans. For example, they donate to Ride for Water, a nonprofit providing safe drinking water in El Salvador. In San Diego they support Young Life, a youth mentoring organization. Hear about it at

Photos of their beans being picked, purchased, and processed decorate the walls.

Photos of their farm to cup steps line the walls, along with a piece of the shipping container that sent some beans from Central America to San Diego. Beans are roasted onsite, so the smell wafts through the space. The repurposed furnishings suit OB’s environmentally conscious reputation. It’s dog and flip-flop friendly, as well.

Notice the other businesses sharing the space…

Their shop space is shared with Wailua Shave Ice and Coastal Native with beachwear and accessories. Nearby are other unique, independently owned shops to explore with your cup of coffee in hand. See

There are no parking meters on Newport, although there is a 2 hour parking limit. Wednesday from 4:00 to around 8:00pm is the OB Farmer’s Market one block west, so parking may be a little limited. The OB way to get here is by bike or foot!

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Biker’s Brew

“Is that a mirage?” I wondered as I approached on my bike. (Since moved from this location.)


Coffee Cycle
(4900 block of Pacific Highway at Anna Ave.)
moved to 1632 Grand Ave. (near Ingraham)
San Diego, CA 92109

I thought it was a mirage when I came off the San Diego River bike path and turned north on Pacific Highway: there was a large “coffee” sign beside the bike lane. As I cycled closer I realized I wasn’t seeing things, there indeed was a coffee cart along Pacific Highway. There was another biker ordering coffee, so I patiently waited my turn before ordering what he said was a favorite among his cyclists: a cappuccino, served in a small glass no less (in other words, no Styrofoam or paper cup).


Chris, the friendly barista, created the cart from scratch.

I was still in a bit of a haze (“Am I really drinking a cappuccino along industrial Pacific Highway?”), but the coffee woke me up enough to start asking questions about his business. Chris, the creative barista & entrepreneur of Coffee Cycle, actually made the cart that can be pulled behind a bicycle. But that was the easy part. To actually make coffee from a cart one needs electricity…no problem for industrious Chris, his solar panels & a lithium battery do that.  These also provide electricity for a refrigerator & his water pump. His water source is industrial strength bags of fresh water strapped on the cart. There were of course steps to get a city license & health inspection, but he passed them all to open earlier this year.


He’s usually open Mon.-Fri. from 7:00am to 2:00pm. On Sundays you’ll find him working as a barista at Bird Rock Roasters ( . He has a full coffee & tea menu offering just about anything a coffee shop will make. His beans are roasted by Bird Rock Roasters, but his vanilla & lavender syrups are home made. I’m not usually a fan of syrups, they’re too sweet for my palate. But both of his syrups are made from fresh vanilla bean or lavender, without the taste of additional artificial sweeteners.

If you’re not on a bike, look for parking along Pacific Highway, just not in the red zones. I returned with a car & had to park about 2 blocks away. If he’s not there in the time window I gave above he may have moved on to his next dream:  an actual coffee shop.

It’s possible to stop without a bicycle, just don’t park your car in the red zones.

Here’s to dreams & the hard work that make them happen! Here’s to coffee that new studies have found help us live longer!

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Come for the Coffee, Stay for the Neighborhood

Burly and the Bean Coffee Cabin
3014 Columbine St. (at Poplar St., just west of Fairmount)
Azalea Park in City Heights
San Diego, CA 92105

Owners Justin & Vanessa, AKA Burly & the Bean

This month we visited Burly and the Bean’s Coffee Cabin. Burly and Bean are the nicknames of the owners and they are inspiring entrepreneurs. They’ve been at this location for a year, but had a coffee cart nearby prior to that.

We indulged in mocha coffees with intriguing names like Hot Like Me (Mexican chocolate, cinnamon, Tabasco) and Nut You (with almonds and hazelnuts). Both were amazing and will prompt us to return to try other interesting offerings, but only the bravest will try their strongest coffee, the Eye of the Storm, with six shots of espresso! Burly is a self-trained barista and is enthusiastic about creating wild new concoctions. Daymar Beans ( is their roaster.

Marvelous mochas in a garden setting!

Burly and the Bean is located at an intersection with plenty of parking nearby on each of the two streets. The ambience is eclectic as this coffee spot has become a magnet for memorabilia given to them from customers. There is a lending library and an organic veggie garden area with a picnic table and ripe veggies are shared with customers.

The day we were there a trio of adorable children were there making balloon hats and dogs as well as offering garage sale finds in their mobile garage wagon. Yes, of course we had to purchase from these young entrepreneurs!

Burly and Bean are on the go planning a neighborhood chili cook-off in August.  They have also opened a second shop at City Farmers Nursery, a 100% organic full-service nursery at 3110 Euclid Ave. (at Home):  Their City Farmers Nursery coffee hours are Thurs.-Sat., 8:00am to 2:00pm.

Their Azalea Park hours are:
Tuesday through Friday 6:00 am to 4:00 pm
Saturday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, Sunday 7:00 am to 2:00 pm
Closed Mondays

A Columbine flower marks Columbine Street.

It’s a destination you won’t want to miss! Come for the coffee, of course, but while you’re there explore the neighborhood of Azalea Park where you’ll notice wooden carvings of flowers & leaves posted around the neighborhood (see the example of a Columbine flower). It took me awhile to realize that they correspond with street names like the example, plus Poplar, Iris, Tuberose, Violet, & Dahlia. Art is also found in the community park at the southern end of Poplar St. (see the sculptures in the photo below).

What brought me to Azalea Park the first time were the canyons that just about surround the neighborhood: Manzanita Canyon is to the north, Hollywood to the southeast, Swan Canyon is nearby, and 47th St. Canyon is near the City Nursery. If canyon exploring is your plan, wear sturdy boots & carry water. A hiking stick helps, too, just never explore a canyon alone. There are maps at (scroll down for the “City Heights Canyons Loop Trail”).

The car hood shade structure, called Joy Ride, was designed by Jim Bliesner, a neighborhood artist. The muffler bull was designed by Karim Carlock, another neighborhood artist. Both were fabricated and installed by Ironworkers Local 229 volunteers.

Coming this fall is the Ocean Discovery Institute’s Living Lab at the northern end of Manzanita Canyon:

The Ocean Discovery Institute’s Living Lab (under construction) viewed from Manzanita Gathering Place, an art installment at the north end of Manzanita Canyon. The Living Lab was designed by Rob Quigley.

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Surf’s Up!

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

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 This is what the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association has to say about Sunset Cliffs Park: 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:



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