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 http://www.philzcoffee.com 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: https://hdh.ucsd.edu/DiningMenus/hours.aspx?i=m#marketContentArea

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

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:  https://libraries.ucsd.edu/visit/audreys-cafe/index.html

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: https://www.google.com/maps/place/64+Degrees/@32.874214,-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: http://provost.ucsd.edu/colleges/.   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:  http://universitycenters.ucsd.edu/

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 (http://www.darkhorsecoffeeroasters.com/), but they are working on a signature roast of their own. They also offer some coffee drinks with Modern Times Coffee beans (https://www.moderntimesmerch.com/collections/coffee/coffee). 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: http://www.gustavus.com/heidi/scrim.html

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 http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/hledej.php?hleda=banksy.  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 https://www.napalifrozenorganics.com/).

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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