In a city sprinkled with commercialism, finding that perfect independent coffee shop can be a little daunting. You want atmosphere, free Wi-Fi, excellent service, and of course – a delicious cup of Joe. While we aren’t exactly Seattle or San Francisco, we do have a few gems. Luckily for you, quite a few new establishments have popped up in our fair city, providing coffee lovers and Wi-Fi seekers options that do not involve that familiar circular, green logo.
Coffee Junkie: Ryan Bros Coffee
Literally 5 minutes away from the Gaslamp, Ryan Bros Coffee in Barrio Logan is the spot for the ultimate coffee lover. With an extensive menu filled with blends, espressos, cocoas, and specialty drinks, Ryan Bros Coffee has a drink to fit whatever mood you are in. A popular drink for those on the go and in need of a chocolate fix is the Cafe Mocha with Mexican Cocoa (also available in European and White Night). Let me tell you, the aroma of the Cafe Mocha was absolutely delightful and I am happy it was the drink recommended to me.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Ryan Bros Coffee is that it is not a mere coffee shop, but it is a true roastery. Think like a brewery, but for coffee. Situated towards the back of the building is where Ryan Bros roasts their own beans. Your coffee will always be fresh, and once they have your taste buds hooked, you can purchase those same beans for your own personal use. Best of all? All of their coffee is fair trade.
The building housing this coffee heaven is positively urban and spacious with its brick walls and beamed ceilings. Far from being a dingy warehouse in the Barrio, Ryan Bros Coffee is perfect for grabbing an early morning drink or stopping by for lunch. They do have free Wi-Fi for the laptop inclined, however it is not the spot for hours of study. It’s definitely more of a place to socialize with friends, family, and co-workers.
Tip: If you aren’t a coffee goer but your friends are, try one of their iced tea cocktails. I hear they are to die for!
Home Away from Home: Lestat’s on Park
Formerly known as that coffee bar in University Heights with the huge mural of a cleavage bearing chick, Cream Coffee Bar was bought out by Lestat’s and re-christened as Lestat’s on Park. The previous bleak cafeteria look of Cream has since been replaced with new wallpaper, comfy chairs, and dark wood furniture. The entire atmosphere has changed to that of a private study made for a cultured and savvy person in a smoking jacket.
Much of Cream’s menu remains the same with the addition of the ol’ Lestat’s spin, but it isn’t so much the coffee I enjoy most about this place. Aside from the atmosphere, the best feature of Lestat’s on Park is that it is laptop friendly. Not only is the middle portion of the shop sectioned off for those in search of quiet work time, the place is abundant in outlets. Power strips line the walls so that you are never at a loss for power.
Lestat’s on Park is open late, so those insomniac hours of study may be spent here. It is said that this location will also become a 24hr shop, just like the original Lestat’s in Normal Heights. For now Lestat’s on Park closes at midnight – so be sure to check back for complete hours.
Sweet Tooth Binge: Cafe Venti
4681 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
11-15 min from downtown San Diego
Meal portion of the menu served after 6pm. Waffles, yogurt, and shaved ice served all day.
Beer on tap and soju also available
Hours: Close at 11pm weekdays, call for complete hours
Cafe Venti, despite it’s Italian name, is not what you would expect it to be. Instead of Italian coffees, you are more likely to find the Asian variety of milk teas. Instead of parents seeking paninis for lunch, you’ll find people requesting the drool-worthy Waffle Yo. And instead of soothing acoustic tunes, you’ll both see and hear sugary sweet K-Pop music videos on the flat screen TVs set throughout the shop. Complete with doorbells on the tables to gain the attention of the waiters and waitresses, Cafe Venti is a K-Town experience away from K-Town.
If fixing your sweet tooth cravings is what you are after, Cafe Venti will be sweet to all five of your senses. As previously mentioned, the Waffle Yo is extremely popular – and it’s hard to deny it as the aroma wafts through out the shop as soon as it is ordered. A fresh waffle is prepared just for you, topped with a large helping of frozen yogurt, and surrounded by generous amounts of kiwi, strawberries, and pineapples. Finish off with one of their specialty lattes – Lava Latte (white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate blend), Oreo Latte, or Green Tea Latte – and you’ll be hurting for the dentist! Cafe Venti is not exactly laptop friendly, but the plus side is that the wi-fi is protected and not hogged by nerds playing Starcraft or watching movies online (like many of the other coffee and tea shops within this area).
Tip: Request to sit at the Christmas lit patio (yes, year round) and you will be treated to a fresh Snuggie! Yes! They give you Snuggies to wear out on the patio!!!!
Also Try: Filter
If you’ve been to Filter in North Park, you’re in for a treat at the new location right in the heart of Hillcrest. We have not visited this location yet, but there has been nothing but positive buzz about this new spot. Open 24hrs, Filter in Hillcrest is said to be a lot more spacious. You can practically see right through the coffee shop as it appears virtually “wall-less,” a plus for many of the day-goers who love natural light.
750 West Fir
San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: 6am-9pm Everyday
San Diego, CA
Influx Cafe isn’t quite like your stereotypical “coffee house“: Owner Jason Twilla wanted the design of Influx’s second location to be reflective of term “Influx” itself: An all-encompassing “sphere; “spacey” with a sense of meaning; welcoming an overflow of positive energy and an abundance of light. Influx is located in Little Italy’s new, likely-to-become the social epicenter of the neighborhood, building, the Q - whose gorgeous and innovative design has Jonathan Segal to thank. Segal brought to life his own envisions of a building reflecting a perceptiveness and sensitivity to space, and a thoughtful sense of “openness”. Thus, Influx’s new locale couldn’t be more perfectly suited to Twilla’s own vision.
The space reflects a sense of order: Clean lines, great natural light, modern decor – no mismatched pillows nor knapsacks here. No matter where you sit at Influx, you can see everything: Far and away from your usual dark, nook-y, and eclectic coffee joint. Yet despite their lack of “trying to be indie” efforts, Influx is relaxing and cozy in its own right: A cool breeze runs through the spot, whether you’re inside and out. Comfy cushioned booth or bench seating line nearly all walls. The outdoor seating is thoughtfully arranged and uncongested…
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