Hip spots to go when you want a cuppa joe

Photos By Noushin Nourizadeh

Coffee is more than a drink, it’s part of our culture. Sure, we can make it at home, but then we would miss the tantalizing ritual of ordering, waiting, and taking that first sip. It’s fun to try coffee shops and kiosks for the first time, so check out these unique, locally owned spots and see why they’re worth raving about.

Creativity overflows at Barefoot Coffee Roasters
Creativity overflows at Barefoot Coffee Roasters


Barefoot Coffee Roasters
The first thing to note about this ultra-popular café is the coffee beans. They are scrupulously sourced from the highest quality coffee plantations and roasted by hand in small batches to optimize their specific flavor notes. Located in the hip Cedros Design District, Barefoot expresses its own artistic flair with an imaginative menu of coffee and food creations. The Voodoo®, Barefoot’s take on a coconut mocha, is probably the most popular choice at the moment. Also getting rave reviews are the Cacophony, a cappuccino infused with sugar, cayenne, cocoa, and cinnamon, and Affogatos, made with JoJo’s Creamery ice cream. The Breakfasty, a warm biscuit with egg, spinach, and melted cheese is a must-try for foodies. Barefoot also serves delicious toasts on Prager Brothers bread, sandwiches, and the amazing Cardiff Crack Tri Tip tacos. The Lox Toast with tomatoes, cream cheese, capers, and everything bagel seasoning tastes great with any coffee drink on the menu and is available all day. Barefoot curates every ingredient they use from the finest artisans and sources organic when possible. They also serve craft beer from several local breweries with a daily happy hour for discounted wine and beer. Grab a table inside or head to the expansive patio to soak up the South Cedros vibe next to Barefoot’s fire table. Barefoot Coffee Roasters, 439 S Cedros Ave, Ste 204, Solana Beach 

Yummy mini-scones at Brick & Bell
Yummy mini-scones at Brick & Bell

Brick & Bell
There are two shops (one in the heart of the Village of La Jolla and the other in La Jolla Shores) to try. The Village café is located in a quaint 100-year-old building with a brick façade. The best seats in the house are in front of it where you can admire the building and smile at people passing by. There’s not much room inside the shop. It’s all about putting in your coffee order and picking something wonderful from the display cases of delicious baked goods. Besides a long menu of hot drinks, they offer a nice selection of tea and iced drinks. Brick & Bell serves delicious breakfasts, hearty sandwiches, and, of course, you must order some scones. Baked fresh each morning, they have a mini-version, the ideal size to accompany one cup of coffee. The mixed berry covered with sesame seeds has a delightful tangy flavor, while the maple covered with a generous dollop of frosting is decidedly sweet. There’s also cranberry, chocolate chip, and plenty of other options to try with a second cup of coffee. Brick & Bell has a warm, neighborhood feeling about it that invites good conversation over an excellent cup of coffee and a baked good or two. Brick & Bell, 928 Silverado St & 2216 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla

Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar
in La Plaza La Jolla
Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar in La Plaza La Jolla

Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar
One of three locations (the others are in UTC and downtown San Diego), this busy coffee shop is located on the bottom floor of La Plaza La Jolla. It has a sleek feeling about it with industrial wood, metal décor, and an intimate lounge area. You can settle in there or move out into the courtyard area they share with other plaza shops. But, first, order a coffee or espresso drink made from their signature Screaming Goat Espresso, which is rich and full-bodied with notes of dark chocolate that leave a smooth, pleasant lingering sensation of brown sugar with a smooth finish. The food options are impressive. The Avocado Toast has lots of flavors and textures: seeded multigrain toast covered with avocado, arugula, feta cheese, and slices of hardboiled egg. Elixir also has fresh baked pastries, gelato, gluten-free donuts and desserts, flabtreads, and a fabulous selection of crepes—from the Breakfast Crepe featuring eggs, ham, and mozzarella to the Yummy-Yummy Crepe featuring strawberries, bananas, Nutella, or other delicious things. Wine and local craft beers are also on the menu. The wine selection focuses on California wines available by the glass or bottle. Elixir brings a cool vibe to this part of the Village of La Jolla. Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar, 7863 Girard Ave, La Jolla

The way to start the day at 
Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar
The way to start the day at Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar


Kini Koffee
Located on the ocean view deck of Del Mar Plaza, Kini Koffee is bubbling with enthusiasm and delicious coffee creations. This new female-owned business is always coming up with something new: unique, handcrafted drinks like matchas, lavender lattes, and peanut butter acai bowls. Kini Koffee bubbles with enthusiasm and delicious coffee creations. Ask about the Secret Menu. Kini Koffee, 1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar

Bean Me Up
Serving good karma with every coffee, espresso, and tea they sell, Beam Me Up is too good to pass by. Watch for the unassuming metal kiosk as you head east on Sunset Cliffs, and get in line, if necessary. It’s that good. Besides a solid list of excellent hot and iced coffee drinks, there are muffins, bagels—all the basics done just right. Owner John Carpenter has the reputation for being as good at making coffee creations as he is at being friendly. Drive through or park on the street and walk up to make a new friend. Bean Me Up, 2231 Sunset Cliffs Blvd, Ocean Beach

Bay Park Coffee
4130 Napier St, San Diego
Try: Vietnamese Latte

Better Buzz
578 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
Try: Best Drink Ever

Café Bassam
3088 Fifth Ave, Bankers Hill
Try: Ice White Mocha

Camp Coffee Company
101 N Cleveland St, Oceanside
Try: Camp Mocha

Clayton’s Bakery & Bistro
849 Orange Ave, Coronado
Try: Honey Lavender Latte

James Coffee Co
2870 Fourth Ave, Bankers Hill
2355 India St, Little Italy
4379 30th St, North Park
Try: Cappuccino with oat milk