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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Bonjour from South Park!

Café Madeleine
2248 30th St. (at Juniper)
San Diego, CA 92104

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

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 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 Will Farrell 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:

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

“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 (, 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 (

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:

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!

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