Happy Monday babes!
Maybe because it’s Monday morning and I need a big cup of coffee, or maybe because I always have caffeine on the brain, I wanted to share with you my San Diego coffee guide. This has been on my to do list for years now, and I have finally pulled it together. I can’t wait to test of what the Coffee Capital has to offer next!
When it comes to outings with friends, I’m more of a coffee shop girl than a bar girl. I like sitting and sipping on a drink and nibbling on a baked good while chatting with a friend. You can sit back and people watch or enjoy the hustle and bustle of coffee being made and the smell of ground beans.
This interest in coffee shops has led me to constantly trying new places to see who has the best ambiance and brew. Many a friend has asked me where they should go to study, eat, chat, etc. To be honest, I’d always advise the first one that popped into my head. But after scoping out the scene far and wide, I’ve finally compiled my top 10. Note: they are ranked by what they’re best for, not by which is the best! Whether you’re looking for the most innovative brew, the best place to catch up with friends, or a good nook to study– you’ll love these options.
CAFÉ 976: The Secret Garden
This café is a mix of the movie and a charming Seattle home. If you step inside the home turned coffee shop, you’ll find ample study space and smells of ground beans. Find a table on the patio with your pooch and a friend for some catching up. Move to the gardens for some people watching.
- Best For: People watching, chatting, and writing.
- My Favorites: traditional cappuccino, Cali Burrito
- Notes: The wifi can be a little spotty, so if you’re studying, make sure it’s not something where you have to have the internet!
PANIKIN ENCINITAS: The English Tea Shoppe
Panikin is a local’s staple. As one of three locations, this one is perfect when you want to take a trip to England for some loose leaf tea and some traditional Victorian architecture. You’ll find it hard to walk out of the shop without at least having bought a mug, something to eat, and some tea. You can opt to sit on the balcony, the patio, or indoors based on what you’re feeling. Need a study spot? Consider the balcony. A place for people watching? Sit inside. Wanting some California sunshine? Sit on the patio.
- Best For: traveling without leaving San Diego, chatting, and people watching.
- My Favorites: veggie panwich, lox bagel, assorted baked goods
BRICK AND BELL: A sip of home
If you grew up in or around the La Jolla area, you know about Brick and Bell. When you walk in you feel like you’re walking into your family’s crowded kitchen. It’s the place La Jollans go for the best scones and coffee around. It’s also the place to go to run into everyone you haven’t seen in a while. If you truly want to experience being a local, this is the place to be. Brick and Bell’s location is also a plus because it’s so close to the La Jolla Cove, and the various shops on Girard.
- Best For: chatting, EATING, and striking up a conversation with the tables next to you.
- My favorites: Iced coffee, cranberry scones
COPA VIDA: A picture perfect modern San Fran/Seattle coffee shop
Copa Vida could be the set for every romcom that takes place in San Fran and Seattle where the main character meets the love of their life or has some major epiphany in a coffee shop. The moment you walk in with the marble bar and crisp menu, it definitely doesn’t feel like Southern California anymore.
- Best For: a morning cup of joe, and light-medium studying
- My favorites: Shakerato, Kale Salad, Mediterranean Couscous
COFFEE AND TEA COLLECTIVE: The microbrewery of coffee shops
This place is the place you go when you care about what’s in your cup. You know or want to learn about the mad science behind your cold brew and you’re not about to just get a black coffee. You want something infused with flowers. You want your experience to be all about your coffee or tea.
- Best for: learning about your drinks, light studying, reading a book
- My Favorites: San Diego herbal blend tea, cold brew
CAFFÉ CALABRIA: when you need a hint of Italy
If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know that every corner has some sort of coffee shop where people get a cookie and their morning/afternoon espresso. Fitting to the name, Caffé Calabria reminds me of Calabria. It’s my favorite spot for an afternoon espresso.
- Best For: feeling Italian, chatting, afternoon coffee
- My Favorites: any of the coffee drinks
JAMES COFFEE: When you want to feel hipster AF
James is located inside a warehouse where it shares space with a hipster clothing store, a hipster glasses store, and a hipster barber shop (you get the hint). The first time I visited and started snapping pics, I was definitely getting judged by the barista with the crazy beard. That being said, the place has great vibes and lots of tables for studying and chatting.
- Best For: Light-medium studying, writing, reading, a coffee to go
- My Favorites: cold brew, iced coffee
LIVING ROOM LA JOLLA: For studying late into the night, and when you need wine when coffee isn’t cutting it
The Living Room should be in another dining/coffee shop category due to it being a coffee shop, a hookah lounge, and a twist on a wine/beer bar. It’s the only place in La Jolla open past 10 pm and the only place I know where you can show up in heels or in yoga pants. Sit outside for some dessert, downstairs for some serious cramming, or upstairs for some hookah/ a smoky ambiance.
- Best For: a date, extreme studying, catching up with friends
- My Favorites: Pesto bagels, Middle Eastern dips, banana mocha freeze, hammerhead
PAPPALECCO: When you want a gelato with that cappuccino
Pappalecco is known for its gelato, pastries, and coffee (basically everything). It’s great for an afternoon out with your pooch, or for a quick stop to get a gelato straight from Italy. It can get pretty crowded on the weekend, so for a more relaxed ambiance, try to head there during the week.
- Best For: a hot day, a date, chatting
- My Favorites:strawberry gelato, affogato, cappuccino
CAFÉ GRATITUDE: L.A. vibes and vegetarian food
If Copa Vida was a romcom in Seattle, Café Gratitude is the romcom in Los Angeles. Newer to San Diego, it pairs coffee with a real dining experience. So go sit at the bar with your laptop for some truffles and coffee, or get a table for some vegetarian/vegan classics. It’s crisp, clean, and beautiful.
- Best For: studying alone, non-meat meals, feeling Los Angelano
- My Favorites: chocolate truffles, latte, the “Feliz” appetizer
There you have it! My favorite coffee haunts. What’s your go-to coffee shop?