The best looking coffee shop in San Diego has sprung up in a surprising place: within a specialty lumber shop in the Morena district. Claro Coffee serves locally roasted coffee from Zumbar Coffee & Tea, and the Coffee & Tea Collective, but what really stands out about the venue is its breathtaking space, which opened in August within the front rooms of Made Lumber, a live edge and salvaged wood lumber vendor and furniture maker.
5334 Banks Street Suite A, Linda Vista
What that means is, Made Lumber sells lumber taken from naturally fallen trees, often very old growth, usually cut in long cross sections to preserve the tree’s bark outline and the natural, jagged edges of its trunk. You’ve probably noticed its products at local bars and restaurants, where they’re used to give natural shapes and grains to tables and bar tops. Customers browse its showroom for specimens of redwood, American elm, black walnut, and the pricey claro walnut.
The name Claro Coffee refers to that wood and the unadulterated coffee the shop’s founder Jorge Diaz might drink in his native Cuba. Diaz spent several years learning the wood trade with Made Lumber, and put his skills to work making the bar area and furniture for the coffeeshop’s lounge, which doubles as an entry to the lumber showroom. There are gorgeous wood grains and cross-sectional trees everywhere you look, balanced by hanging plants and custom artwork. Especially given the walls are painted cinderblock, the elegant coffee lounge Diaz and his wife managed to put together is a marvel.
The place deserves a special shout out for the creativity of its restroom, wallpapered with black and white photographs of famous people drinking coffee, including John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger, and Boris Karloff, in his Frankenstein’s monster makeup.
Despite its industrial zone location, dozens of customers found their way to Claro Coffee its first weeks open, whether potential lumber customers or those working in the area (home to the Catalina Offshore seafood market and Deft Brewing). They’ve found espresso drinks, drip and pour-over coffee, locally produced Babe Kombucha, pastries from Bread & Cie, and (important for these hottest days of summer) delicious Zumbar cold brew on tap.
But most of all they’ve found a chill and beautiful place to drink coffee, off the beaten path.