In recent years San Diego’s coffee culture has risen to contest any major city in the country.
Year-round sunshine coupled with a refreshing onshore breeze and plenty of bright, verdant streets provide plenty of great locations to sit out on a terrace, or in the shade, and go about your online business with a coffee. The local scene has been helped by the likes of the San Diego Coffee Network which was set up to provide greater support for producers providing for the city’s market, as well as linking cafes together and organising member events.
In compiling this list, we aimed to provide a ranking of the best places in Cali’s southernmost city that provided not only great coffee, but super-fast wifi, and, importantly, invigorating surroundings: we all know the value of spontaneous in-person dialogue in getting the creative juices flowing. Luckily, San Diegans are some of the friendliest and artiest people in the US!
10. Coffee and Art
Does what it says on the tin, and then some! Situated in the Gaslamp quarter, Coffee and Art has won over fans by virtue of its friendly atmosphere, great coffee and renowned acai bowls. The café also hosts artwork by local and international artists, and staff are more than happy to discuss the local art scene. Opens late.
9. Clairemont Coffee
A nice, chill spot to get some work done in a suburban area by the I-5 near Mission Bay. Comfortable surroundings are a big draw here, but their smoothies are well worth it too.
8. Ladies and Gentlemen Coffee Roasters
Lying up on Golden Hill to the east of the Gaslamp, Ladies and Gentlemen aims to anchor itself in the local community, boasting tonnes of charm and energetic customer service, this is a great, chill outpost in which to browse away for a few hours.
7. Pannikin Coffee and Tea
Situated further north up in Encinitas, this building is a tastefully refurbished former station on the old Santa Fe railroad. Pannikin sets itself apart not only in terms of its unique location, but also due to its broad range of speciality teas and dog-friendly atmosphere.
6. Caffe Calabria
Calabria brings an authentic Italian espresso experience to So Cal. Live music and spoken word poetry are common during the evening time if you wish to relax and breathe in some local artists.
5. The Swell Café
The Swell Café in Mission Beach delightfully combines a laid-back surfing vibe with an honest approach to environmentally conscious running a business to provide a great local hangout in one of the US’s most fun-loving beach communities.
4. Café Virtuoso
Café Virtuoso puts in a lot of effort to earn its name. Putting particular stress on procuring the finest organic, fair trade beans through personal relationships with coffee farmers, Virtuoso boasts a complete experience: quality service, an eclectic mix of people and, above all, unbeatable coffee.
An ample terrace surrounding three sides of the building and overhanging fig trees make this spot an awesome retreat from the bustle of Downtown to get some work done, meet some eccentrics or maybe be swayed by delicious vegan donuts… or some happy hour drink deals!
2. Dark Horse
A coffee lover's paradise. If the Wild West-style exterior doesn’t draw you in, then the sumptuous smell of owner Daniel Charlson’s roasting beans will. It’s quirky décor and equine theme ensure that people don’t take themselves too seriously here, except, that is, when it comes to talking about quality coffee.
1. James Coffee Co
Where other coffee houses sell themselves on a cosy atmosphere, James prides itself on catering to those who desire vast, open, post-industrial surroundings to let the mind wander and engage in a spot of people watching.
Their cold brew is second to none and the addition of merchandise and leather goods stalls make for engaging surroundings while you work. James Coffee Co is fast becoming a renowned coffee brand in its own right.