San Diego’s coffee scene on par with Portland’s?

The next big thing

Coffee roasters invested heavily in San Diego in 2015.
  • Coffee roasters invested heavily in San Diego in 2015.

San Diego’s coffee community has come on strong the past three years, and it did not stop growing one bit in 2015. The number of roasters producing beans countywide grew to at least 26, while 10 existing roasting companies invested to expand their footprints with new retail locations and/or roasteries.

Joining the roaster ranks this year were Encinitas-based Ironsmith, North Park cottage company Dane Coffee, and the brand new Manzanita Roasting Company out of Rancho Bernardo. The short-lived Ladies & Gentlemen coffee shut down mid-year, but principals Joshua and Hannah Bonner came back a few weeks later, roasting under a new name: Foxy Coffee.

Existing roasters The West Bean and Revolution Roasters opened retail shops for the first time, while Coffee & Tea Collective, Caffé Calabria, Lofty Coffee, and Better Buzz each added a second, third or — in the case of Better Buzz — sixth locations to their businesses.

Dark Horse, Bird Rock, and Swell Café each expanded production with new roasteries in addition to new shops, while Café Virtuoso joined Bird Rock in growing beyond the micro-roaster label by adding space and tripling its production capacity. Virtuoso also joined Bird Rock in making CoffeeReview.com’s annual list of the top 30 coffees of the year, an honor Bird Rock has accomplished three years in a row.

In the meantime, Pasadena roaster Copa Vida established not one but two retail shops here, while Holsem Coffee in North Park opened with proprietary beans roasted at an undisclosed location. Of course, the growth of specialty coffee in San Diego wasn’t restricted to roasters, as new third-wave coffeehouses have continued to crop up all over the county — Oceanside’s Banana Dang, Escondido’s Culture Craft, Perks in San Marcos, and Heartwork in Mission Hills, just to name a few.

Past Event

Caffeine Crawl

  • Friday, January 22, 2016, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Various coffee shops throughout San Diego
  • $25 - $33

The scene has grown in other ways as well. The San Diego Coffee Network produced two four-month seasons of its Thursday Night Thing latte art tournaments, attracting scores of skillful baristas — both local and from out of state — to compete for cash and other prizes at jam-packed events hosted by coffee entities around town.

Past Event

Caffeine Crawl

  • Saturday, January 23, 2016, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Various coffee shops throughout San Diego
  • $25 - $33

Kansas City–based beverage marketing company The LAB returned to San Diego in 2015 for a second annual Caffeine Crawl, a curated tour of coffee companies that guides fans through a series of presentations hosted by roasters, baristas, and importers.

Past Event

Caffeine Crawl

  • Sunday, January 24, 2016, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Various coffee shops throughout San Diego
  • $25 - $33

Caffeine Crawls take place in 14 U.S. cities, giving its organizers a unique insight into the differences between major coffee communities around the country. Caffeine Crawl coordinator Sadie Renee says the past two San Diego crawls proved so successful they’re expanding their reach this year with more tours and more shops participating.

Renee says, “San Diego’s coffee scene is one of our team favorites.” She adds that its growth this year puts it “on par with our three biggest annual events in Chicago, Portland, and Kansas City.” This year’s Crawl features ten distinct tours over three days, January 22–24.

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I want to draw your attention to a true gem of a coffee shop in Escondido, CA that your article overlooked. Blue Mug Coffee & Tea.

This is the sort of place where the owner is often front and center welcoming guests, remembering customers personal preferences, and serving coffee with the sort of care and attention that many places aspire to, but few are actually able to deliver. The reviews on Google don't lie. This place is amazing.

Coffee lovers and people who love to support small businesses owe it to themselves to check out Bllue Mug. You won't be disappointed.


A happy regular.

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