Top Coffee of 2016 goes to ...

They knew it was special back in February

A collage of burlap coffee bags hangs in Cafe Virtuoso’s updated Barrio Logan coffee shop
  • A collage of burlap coffee bags hangs in Cafe Virtuoso’s updated Barrio Logan coffee shop

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

5627 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla

A Kenya Guama Peaberry coffee roasted by Bird Rock Coffee Roasters has been named the number-one coffee of the year by CoffeeReview.com, earning a 97-point rating. Judges described it as “luscious, deeply sweet, and sumptuous.” “We knew the Kenya Guama Peaberry was special when we were making our Kenyan green-coffee selection back in February, so we bought the entire lot,” says owner Chuck Patton, who called the coffee “extremely complex with intense flavor.” Bird Rock also announced the impending departure of head roaster Heather Brisson, who will be leaving San Diego in January. Says Patton, “Her sensitive approach to coffee roasting added a wonderful element to our quality.” While Bird Rock seeks a new roaster, Patton notes existing roasting profiles won’t change, “However, the new roaster will have opportunities to add a new perspective to our approach to coffee roasting.”

Cafe Virtuoso

1616 National Avenue, Barrio Logan

Barrio Logan roaster Café Virtuoso has undertaken a remodel of its shop that will add upgraded seating and lighting, a window bar, and decor including collages made from burlap coffee bags. The remodel started with installation of a larger coffee counter that features an automated pour-over bar for its half dozen over-90-points rated organic coffees, and kombucha on tap. When it’s finished, the back corner of the shop will feature a dedicated coffee training facility operated by San Diego Coffee Training Institute. The newly formed nonprofit will be headed by Virtuoso’s head of quality control, Savannah Phillips, “with the purpose of helping disadvantaged populations acquire general working skills and SCAA job-training certifications to begin new careers in the specialty coffee industry.”

Mostra Coffee found a number of ways to celebrate its third anniversary in December. It began with the announcement it will open its first dedicated retail storefront in a shopping center at 12045 Carmel Mountain Road, less than a half mile from its Carmel Mountain roastery. Head roaster Mike Arquines says he and his partners hope to open the shop in January, or “as soon as the city lets us.”

Since opening, Mostra has served prepared coffee and beans one or two days per week from its roasting shop, where it will now make room for shipping and packaging of wholesale and online orders. Arquines has also brought on an assistant roaster to help meet increasing demand.

A packed December 10 anniversary party featured cold brew and several of the dozens of coffee-beer collaborations Mostra has contributed to in the past three years. Bottles of its most recent, the M3 anniversary brew made with Abnormal Beer Company, went on sale online at noon on November 29. Arquines notes the 1000-bottle run sold out in three seconds, as 50,000 customers attempted to order it.

The Caffeine Crawl is coming back to San Diego for a fourth year. The city coffee tours will hit North County on January 20, and city center January 21–22, with ten routes overall featuring several new local shops, including new Carlsbad roasters Sleeping Tiger (2906 Carlsbad Boulevard) and Steady State Roasting (2680 State Street).

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