San Diego is a coastal jewel. Its exceptionally pleasant climate is unique, making it a fantastic place to enjoy its natural amenities like miles of beautiful beaches, rolling hills, and desert rocks. The city of San Diego also has a lot to offer including a vibrant coffee scene. As with any vibrant community, there are many local and independent coffee shops for you to enjoy if your travels take you to this beautiful southern California city.
5 Exceptional Coffee Shops in San Diego
Creating an exceptional customer experience is no small feat. And these San Diego coffee shops are notable for their dedication to coffee quality and good vibes.
Here are our top five picks listed alphabetically with links to their Instagram and locations so you can go try them out:
What To Order at the Top San Diego Coffee Shops
Here’s a deep dive into our list of top San Diego coffee shops, along with what we’d recommend you enjoy on your first visit, though don’t just take our word for it, ask a barista for their recommendation.
Photo credit: Coffee & Tea Collective. Used with permission.
Coffee & Tea Collective take their craft seriously. Not only do they operate great cafes, they also roast their coffee and source their own teas. We love multi-sensory experiences so we are big fans of their artist series. They use their cafes as art galleries and collaborate with the artists being featured on custom coffee boxes. Genius!
While enjoying the art, we recommend sipping on a cappuccino. You will appreciate how such a simple beverage can be so perfectly executed.
Photo credit: Communal Coffee. Used with permission.
Communal is a feast for the eyes. With several locations throughout Southern California, Communal offers a full coffee menu, non-coffee bevs, delicious food, fresh flowers, and curated goods. No matter how you’re feeling, your spirits will be lifted by the great energy of these shops. Each location is uniquely designed to fit their community, so be sure to plan enough time to stay a while.
Communal has a thoughtful and well-crafted menu for both coffee and non-coffee drinkers. If you're a lover of coffee, try one of their seasonal creations. But if you’re not a fan of coffee, try an iced creamsicle.
3. James Coffee
Photo credit: James Coffee. Used with permission.
James Coffee is a coffee shop and roastery with several locations throughout San Diego. One of the most notable things about their business is the lack of paper to-go cups. In 2021, they moved to a completely reusable cup system where you pay a deposit for a glass jar with a koozie, and you can swap it out for a clean one at every visit or return it to get your deposit back. Very inspiring for sure.
James has 3 locations in San Diego and one Escondido. No matter which location you’re able to visit, try their Mexican mocha made with spiced chocolate! Also, snag one of their baked in-house pastries.
4. Lofty Coffee
Photo credit: Lofty Coffee. Used with permission.
Along the coast of California you’ll find several Lofty Coffee locations, but in Little Italy in San Diego, you’ll find a Lofty Coffee shop with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Lofty does it all. They roast their coffee, operate a bakery with tasty laminated pastries and breads, and a market where they offer house-made nut milks, flowers, juices, baked goods, and more.
One of the many unique offers they have is their cold brew coffee based drink, Cloudy With A Chance Of Cold Brew. Cold brew with house-made vanilla, and shaken organic heavy cream.
Photo credit: Mostra Coffee. Image used with permission.
Mostra Coffee’s San Diego shop is located just a couple blocks off of Balboa park in Bankers Hill. Mostra, Italian for “performance”, is a women, minority, veteran, and immigrant-owned micro coffee roaster. It’s a great shop to hit up before enjoying the close by San Diego zoo. Along with their coffee, Mostra is known for their brewery collaborations and their impressive tiered membership program.
Mostra has many unique seasonal beverages to enjoy including their signature brulees. But if that’s not your vibe, we recommend grabbing an espresso-forward cortado.
San Diego is city full culture, unique history, and great coffee shops. If you find yourself in America’s Finest City be sure to visit one of these top coffee shops.
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*Article feature image Communal Coffee San Diego. Used with permission.