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San Diego’s Coffee Scene: What’s All the Buzz About?

With some of the best beaches, cuisine and, yes, even the best coffee, it’s not hard to imagine why millions of people like to call sunny San Diego home. For years, this urban beach town has been cultivating a rich and authentic coffee scene that has turned even the ordinary caffeine drinker into a self-proclaimed coffee snob.

“San Diego is probably at the forefront of the coffee scene right now,” said junior Hudson Knox. “Shops have really dialed into what people love about coffee, and for me it’s how complex and interesting it is. There’s always new types of beans and new brewing methods and I think coffee companies in this city have done a great job of exploring those.”

Here are a few top picks of local coffee shops by some of PLNU’s very own coffee enthusiasts.

James Coffee Co.: Located in the heart of Little Italy, James is a favorite among many. This hip local chain serves fresh coffee and espresso-based beverages made from handcrafted beans. It’s also known for its unique space and atmosphere, which houses a clothing boutique, an eyewear line, a card shop and even a barbershop. Keep an eye out for that trademark owl on every fresh-brewed cup of James.

Heartwork Coffee Bar: This hidden gem is located in San Diego’s vibrant Mission Hills neighborhood and promises delicious craft coffee and an even better experience that will leave visitors eager to return for another dose. This quaint café also offers their famous specialty drinks for those coffee drinkers who want to venture out from their usual pour-overs and cold brews.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters: With three different locations throughout San Diego, including one in Little Italy and La Jolla, Bird Rock prides itself on being the first specialty roaster in San Diego that practices direct trade sourcing. This means you can have hand-picked coffee from all over the world in your favorite blue and white Bird Rock mug.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters: In a modern-style, open concept coffee shop in beautiful North Park, San Diego, you’ll find a dark horse in a suit telling you, “Relax, it’s just coffee.” Dark Horse Coffee Roasters is home to a unique flavor produced by fresh quality beans roasted daily in-house. And don’t forget to try their delicious vegan donuts.

Communal Coffee: Head to University Ave. in North Park to find a snug, always popular Communal Coffee. Written on one of the walls of its hip interior are the words “Coffee + Flowers,” which about sums up this unique space. Dedicated to providing excellent craft coffee as well as a welcoming environment, Communal doubles as a coffee shop and a boutique florist. Stop by for some specialty drinks and snap a few photos while you’re at it.

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Tigist Layne

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