magazine | Food & Drinks | Coffee Shops

25 of the Coolest Coffee Shops in San Diego

West Coast cities San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles have been long-heralded as coffee capitals, but it's high time San Diego ranked right up there with some of the best places to grab a cup of coffee in the country. The often celebrated laid-back, San Diego beach lifestyle is also one of the sweetest settings for sipping fresh cups of small batch coffee on sun-drenched patios accented by homemade pastries, healthy juices and post-surf breakfast items. What makes San Diego stand out is the abundance of small batch roasters, people willing to roll up their sleeves and work on a product for years, then present it with pride in beautifully designed yet welcoming neighborhood shops.

From gorgeously modern cafes with charcoal walls, to small, walk-up bars with perfect pour-overs, beachfront coffee trucks and family-run businesses serving rainbow lattes in colors you never dreamed coffee could come in, here is a list of 27 of the loveliest coffee shops San Diego has to offer.

Reporter: Katie Bush | Location: Communal Coffee North Park
1 / 25
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Better Buzz Coffee Roasters Hillcrest

San Diego, California
Better Buzz Coffee is beloved throughout San Diego, across 8 locations, for its beautifully rustic yet modern decor, delicious brews and homemade breakfast and pastry items. Each new opening is excitedly buzzed about by neighbors and becomes a hub for those looking to wile away an afternoon, have a much-needed conversation or simply enjoy a little java in a pretty setting.
2 / 25
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Bing Haus

San Diego, California
Bing Haus is an ice cream and coffee concept on Convoy featuring items like Thai-style rolled ice cream and shaved ice served in melons (seasonally). Helmed by Nancy Chi – whose family members own several local Korean restaurants including Grandma Tofu & BBQ and Friend's House Korean BBQ – coffee and specialty drinks are made with beans from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and “Ice Cream by the Sea” - fish-shaped waffles filled with soft serve and fruit is a real, beautiful thing.
3 / 25
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Bump Coffee

Cardiff, California
Bump Coffee is one of the smallest shops to make this list with the biggest heart. A walk-up shop in Cardiff-by-the-Sea with a perfect pour-over, homemade empanadas on the side and a shot of CBD if you’re feeling extra fancy. If you need a post-surf pick-me-up, find their coffee truck at Pipes Beach Monday-Friday from 7am -11am in Encinitas or reserve it for a special event.
4 / 25
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Steady State Roasting Co.

Carlsbad, California
Steady State Roasting Co. is a small tasting room in downtown Carlsbad with a blue honeycomb coffee bar and a penchant for limited time, fancy drinks like the “cold fashioned” - made from Panama Gesha cold concentrate, sassafras & sorghum bitters, honey and orange. They roast small batches of beans and create magical caffeinated elixirs and speciality coffees worthy of a slow morning or a languid afternoon.
5 / 25
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Copa Vida Downtown

San Diego, California
Copa Vida is more than a series of beautifully curated coffee shops, bookable coffee carts and a catering business, it is an authentic, welcoming hub for the neighborhoods it inhabits in both Los Angeles and San Diego. Besides the supremely delicious coffee brewed to suit a wide variety of palettes, the bread is baked in-house and the menu is simple and delicious, served everyday from 7am-11am with a brunch on Saturday and Sundays from 8am-3pm.
Photo: Ally Bascom
6 / 25
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The Grounds Bean Bar

San Diego, California
If you’re looking for the prettiest coffee shop on the block, look no further than The Grounds Bean Bar in Crown Point. Tropical wallpaper and living greenery accent a black and white tiled coffee bar serving nitro brews, turmeric lattes and exquisite avocado toast - both sweet and savory.
7 / 25
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Communal Coffee South Park

San Diego, California
Communal Coffee is a beautiful coffee concept serving excellent craft coffee in well-designed, welcoming environments that foster community in North Park and as of recently, a second location now open in South Park. Owner Jen Byard’s background in art and non-profit fueled the beautiful environment where customers sip Sightless Coffee, eat delicious, homemade fare and watch floral magic happen from Native Poppy.
8 / 25
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La Colombe UTC

La Jolla, California
With 30 locations in five cities across the country, the latest La Colombe to open is at the recently renovated UTC Mall in La Jolla. Like a beautiful Italian shop come to life, its floor-to-ceiling glass windows are accented by clean lines of black iron and perfect pour overs. Pair the caramel draft latte with locally sourced food and pastries for a sweet summer indulgence.
9 / 25
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Scrimshaw Coffee

San Diego, California
The aptly named Scrimshaw Coffee, a specialty shop open in El Cerrito means “to waste time.” There may be no more beautiful “waste of time” than at this lovely shop, sipping high quality coffee, a “that good good” bagel and enjoying conversations with people from all walks of life.
10 / 25
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Moniker General

San Diego, California
The Moniker Group is known throughout San Diego as creators of beautiful experiences, whether it be at their venue spaces Downtown, in Point Loma or at their brick and mortar General Store at Liberty Station, there is a sense of thoughtful care inherent in everything they do. Serving coffee at Moniker General is the latest undertaking and just like everything else, it is curated, craft-based and community driven. Think weathered blue wood, sleek marble, white honeycomb tiles and minimalist decor allowing for coffee and conversation to be the star.
11 / 25
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James Coffee Co.

San Diego, California
James Coffee Co. is an independently owned and operated coffee shop with four locations in Little Italy, Downtown and Bankers Hill. James Coffee Co. inherently understands a good cup of coffee can be accented by experience and design which is why it in particular, it inhabits a supremely cool, industrial spot in Little Italy called the “Space” - which houses their coffee bar and roastery, as well as a curated collection of boutique shops under one roof.
12 / 25
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Revolution Roasters

Oceanside, California
Revolution Roasters is located in revitalized Oceanside, just north of San Diego proper, seeks to reimagine how people experience their daily coffee ritual. As their name suggests, they roast their beans in-house in small batches and made to order, guaranteeing the utmost in freshness. The shop itself is sleek yet inviting, creating a real sense of community around a beautiful coffee product.
13 / 25
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Holsem Coffee

San Diego, California
Holsem Coffee’s flagship store is located in North Park and is a study in high design and progressive coffee techniques. Everything from the in-house roasted coffee to the homemade hazelnut milk and syrups as well as the traditional and gluten-free pastries are made from scratch and with the highest quality ingredients available. Pick a spot on the patio and enjoy a variety of healthy breakfast options like the gluten-free buckwheat granola with honey and coconut and fresh berries and beverages such as the Matcha Mint Latte with homemade peppermint syrup.
14 / 25
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Coffee & Tea Collective Downtown

San Diego, California
Coffee & Tea Collective is made up of a group of people who care about quality. What started in a garage has now expanded to two lovely locations in North Park and the East Village in downtown San Diego. Their shops are beautiful, modern, open spaces in collaboration with SideYard Projects, where large, white pegboards hold various treasures to purchase and blonde wood tables and hanging greenery accent the complex simplicity of their innovative beverages. The Hibiscus Lemongrass + Ginger Sparkling Tea is a perfect accompaniment to a sunny, San Diego afternoon.
15 / 25
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Coava Coffee

San Diego, California
Coava Coffee is the name for “unroasted” or “green” coffee and was started by barista owner Matt Higgins in his garage in 2008. The veteran barista and roaster bootstrapped the company by repairing motorcycles with the goal to prepare coffee for professional baristas and every day drinkers. Dedicated to sustainable sourcing practices, they have become one of the premiere roasters in the country. Based out of Portland, their only out-of-state shop is now located in downtown San Diego and features beautifully warm woods and charcoal walls accented by vintage gold fixtures with lots of outdoor seating. Enjoy selections from a constantly rotating single origin drip and espresso coffee menu or cold brew on tap and on nitro.
Photo: nachural517
16 / 25
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Heartwork Coffee Bar

San Diego, California
Heartwork Coffee Bar is located in a cozy corner of the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego, serving locally sourced coffee and baked goods in a beautiful space. A family-run business that serves coffee and kindness, the decor is sleek wood and white honeycomb tiles accented by warm smiles.
17 / 25
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S3 Coffee Bar

San Diego, California
A fun-filled, colorful and cheerful shop, S3 Coffee Bar is a family owned business serving local roasted coffee from Cafe Moto and cold brew from Red Hat Coffee. But so much more than that, it has come to be world-renown for it’s magical and colorful coffee and tea concoctions, specifically the 24K gold cappuccino, Rose Gold latte and Rainbow Latte. S3 is serious about delicious coffee and presenting the age-old cuppa Joe in a myriad of new and fun ways.
Photo: Caffiends
18 / 25
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Spill the Beans Coffee and Bagels

San Diego, California
Heading up most of San Diego’s “New Best of” lists, Spill the Beans Coffee and Bagels is a simple, yet delicious coffee concept sharing a space downtown with Smoking Gun, a neighborhood restaurant and bar. Pouring fresh cups of Dark Horse coffee in a sleek and modern setting, it’s also serving made from scratch bagels in flavors like pear, vanilla and cinnamon with artisan-compounded butter or house-made cream cheeses.
19 / 25
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Lofty Coffee Co.

Solana Beach, California
Lofty Coffee is a community hub for coffee in San Diego, which got its start as a small shop in 2011 on HWY 101 in Encinitas. Now they’ve expanded to four locations and a production facility where beans are roasted and pastries are homemade from scratch. Each location is massively important to its neighborhood, serving up sunny patios for conversation, healthy breakfast dishes, the delicious coffee they're known for and homemade pastries baked fresh daily.
20 / 25
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Jackson Craft Coffee Bistro

San Marcos, California
With a motto involving “coffee food and beer,” Jackson Craft Coffee Bistro, located in San Marcos nails the San Diego trifecta of food and drink happiness. With a focus on single origin, fair trade or direct trade micro-roasted coffee beans and drinks, they also sell craft tea, hand mixed sodas, and sweet and savory food items from local suppliers.
21 / 25
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The King's Craft Coffee Co.

Poway, California
With a flagship store in eastern Poway and a brand new location in Mission Valley, The King’s Craft Coffee Co. is poised to be the perfect cup of coffee in San Diego with soul. Owned by a former Chargers player with a passion for roasting single origin coffee, he plans to donate a portion of sales to non-profit organizations like Rady Children’s Hospital. The shops themselves are sleek, warm and inviting as well as available to rent for private events.
22 / 25
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Genteel Coffee Co.

San Diego, California
Genteel Coffee aims to use the age-old ritual of coffee as a catalyst in sparking cultural conversation in a community setting. Started in 2016 by Justin Esselstrom, Genteel has grown from a six-foot mobile espresso bar to a full-service specialty coffee and tea shop. Esselstrom personally designed and outfitted the bar himself with help from his grandfather. The shop is simple, sleek, accented by hanging greens and consists of a simple menu and commitment to the community.
23 / 25
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The Westbean Coffee Roasters

San Diego, California
Located Downtown, Bankers Hill and at Liberty Station’s Public Market in Point Loma, The Westbean Coffee Roasters are brewing simple yet complex cups, roasted locally in San Diego. The latest location to open is in Bankers Hill at the base of Mister A’s serving the same beautiful brews with an expanded food menu.
Photo: jvliom
24 / 25
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Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

Encinitas, California
Named for the characteristics of the founders, who believe in working with their hands and mastering their craft, Ironsmith Coffee Roasters was built by them, from the ground up, inhabiting 720 sq. ft in the sweet beach town of Encinitas. The quaint shop is modern and open, typically with a line out the door for the delicious coffee, roasted in small batches on site and local pastry treats.
Photo: Caffiendssd
25 / 25
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Cafe Moto

San Diego, California
Cafe Moto is the granddaddy of small roasters in San Diego, located in a warehouse in Barrio Logan. With each pour, Cafe Moto is patiently showing the new coffee shops on the block what beautiful business practices look like. They run their roasters on solar power, work with small farms growing Fair Trade and certified organic coffee as well as provide fresh roasted beans to some of the best restaurants in the city and beyond. The shop itself is small, cozy and serves some of the best brewed coffee, teas, espressos and cocoas in the city.
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