The Ultimate Guide to the Best Coffee in San Diego

Are you on the hunt for the best coffee in San Diego? Look no further! Whether you're a die-hard coffee connoisseur or simply someone who appreciates a good cup of joe, this article has got you covered. From hip and trendy cafes to hidden gems nestled in different neighborhoods, we've compiled a list of the top coffee spots in San Diego. Join us as we embark on a caffeinated journey through the city, exploring the finest coffee roasters, cozy coffee houses, and unique brews that San Diego has to offer. Prepare to indulge your taste buds and discover the true gems of the San Diego coffee scene!

Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

Ironsmith Coffee Roasters, located in Encinitas, is a small batch coffee roaster that stands out among the many coffee shops in North County. What sets them apart is their commitment to sourcing the best beans by traveling and studying the coffee industry. The result is consistently amazing espresso and brews for their customers to enjoy.

James Coffee

James Coffee, located in multiple locations including Little Italy, North Park, Escondido, and Bankers Hill, is a renowned coffee shop in San Diego. Known for their handcrafted artisan coffee, James Coffee is a favorite among residents. While they don't offer single-use cups, their incredible taste and commitment to sustainability make them a top choice for coffee lovers.

Roasts to boast

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, Various | Started in the Bird Rock neighborhood in 2006, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters offers a wide selection of single origin beans and locally-inspired blends. They have been recognized as Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine.

Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, Various | Established as a Pacific Beach coffee cart in 2002, Better Buzz Coffee Roasters has grown to have over a dozen locations in San Diego County. They also have a roasting facility in Vista.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, Various | Dark Horse Coffee Roasters has been roasting and brewing coffee locally since 2013. With six stores in San Diego County, they also sell their single origin roasts and blends online and in select stores.

A drink inside of HOB Coffee in North ParkAt HOB Coffee, you have the option to add more coffee to your coffee. With several locations in San Diego County, HOB Coffee sources and roasts their own beans locally.

Mostra Coffee, Various | Known for their variety of roasts from around the world, Mostra Coffee derives its name from the Italian word for "performance." With three locations and plans for expansion, Mostra Coffee is making a name for itself, even landing a spot at the San Diego International Airport.

Coffee cup in front of the "WestBean Coffee Roasters" signWhen it comes to coffee, the WestBean Coffee Roasters is the best choice.

Portside Coffee Downtown San Diego

Located on Harbor Drive, Portside Coffee is a small walk-up window that's part of the Portside Pier complex. With marvelous views and delicious coffee, it has quickly become a favorite for many. Don't miss out on their vanilla iced latte.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters Little Italy

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is known for ethically sourcing their coffee. They have multiple locations, but the Little Italy spot is a standout. Located on the corner of Kettner Blvd, it offers great people-watching opportunities and occasional "cupping" demonstrations.

Location: 2295 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

Lofty Coffee Little Italy

Lofty Coffee is a cute indoor/outdoor spot that's a staple in Little Italy. With multiple locations in San Diego, the Little Italy branch is a prime spot for a remote work session. They offer delicious menu items and plenty of outdoor seating, all accompanied by good jams.

Location: 444 W Cedar St, San Diego, CA 92101

Coffee & Tea Collective North Park

Since 2010, Coffee & Tea Collective has been serving up amazing coffee. Located in North Park, this hidden gem offers robust coffee and doubles as an art gallery. It's a must-visit for coffee aficionados.

Location: 2911 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

Communal Coffee North Park

Communal Coffee in North Park, owned by the same people as the South Park location, offers great coffee in a classic setting. With a flower shop inside and local artwork adorning the walls, it creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere. They also serve baked goods and sandwiches, making it a convenient spot for a quick bite. Don't forget to enjoy their outdoor patio.

Location: 2335 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

Garden Coffee Old Town

Garden Coffee is a charming hidden gem located in the historic Old Town area. Cozy and welcoming, it's known for its delicious coffee drinks and friendly staff. The courtyard setting, filled with plants and natural light, adds to its inviting ambiance. It's also a great place to work with plenty of outlets available.

Communal Coffee - South Park

Communal Coffee in South Park is easily the cutest coffee shop on the list. With its coffee truck and boho decor, it embodies the California vibe. While they offer a small coffee menu, their food selection, such as the ricotta jam toast, is to die for. The shop also features a cute retail area.

Location: 2221 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104

Holy Matcha East Village

Located in East Village, Holy Matcha offers a great decor and delicious matcha. While their cold brew coffee is just okay, their matcha is top-notch. The vibes at this spot are immaculate.

Holy Matcha North Park

For the best matcha in San Diego, Holy Matcha in North Park is the place to go. Known for its pink and green vibes and minimal aesthetic, it's the perfect spot for an afternoon pick-me-up. While matcha is their specialty, they also offer a small coffee menu.

Location: 3118 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

The Invigatorium

Located downtown and owned by Consortium Holdings, The Invigatorium is a unique coffee shop with a one-of-a-kind decor. With dinosaurs and a disco ball, it's a visually stunning space. The coffee is also very tasty, and their breakfast menu is not to be missed.

S3 Coffee Bar - Mission Valley

S3 Coffee Bar is a cozy and modern coffee shop in the heart of San Diego. With high-quality coffee, friendly staff, and a comfortable atmosphere, it's a favorite among locals. The 2D-inspired decor adds a fun twist, and they also offer smoothies and sandwiches for a quick bite.

Location: 6225 Mission Gorge Rd, San Diego, CA 92120

Moniker Coffee Liberty Station

Moniker General in Liberty Station is a unique coffee shop that offers more than just coffee. With its combination of coffee, bikes, cocktails, and geometric tiles, it's a must-visit spot. Their brand-new outdoor area and cozy seating options make it the perfect place to relax and hang out. Don't forget to explore Liberty Station while you're there.

Location: 2860 Sims Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

Spill the Beans

Located in Seaport Village, Spill the Beans is a small coffee shop known for its great coffee and delicious bagels. Their bagel sandwiches are a popular choice, but they often sell out quickly. Situated right by the water, it offers amazing views. Keep in mind that parking can be difficult in the high-tourist area.

Zumbar Coffee & Tea

Zumbar Coffee & Tea has two unique locations. The one between the Torrey Pines research mesa and Sorrento Valley draws in brainiacs from both sides of Interstate 5. The other, in Cardiff, offers ocean views and a picturesque park nearby. Zumbar is dedicated to quality, from sourcing their beans to the final cup of coffee, ensuring a satisfying experience.

Mostra Coffee - Bankers Hill

Mostra Coffee, with multiple locations in San Diego County, has quickly gained popularity. Their Bankers Hill location, in particular, is small yet charming. Don't miss their signature lattes, like the cookie butter latte.

Address: 2001 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Jaunt Coffee Roasters

Jaunt Coffee Roasters is a hidden gem tucked into a Mira Mesa industrial park. They serve espresso, pour-overs, and unique drinks like their signature Ube latte and minty mojito cold brew. The interior is hip, and they also offer delicious baked goods and food options. They even have a pay it forward board where customers can buy drinks for others in need.

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Manzanita Roasting Company and Coffee House

Manzanita Roasting Company and Coffee House, located in both Rancho Bernardo Winery and Escondido, is a bohemian storefront that offers delicious coffee. Their mild and balanced beans can be found in various locations across the region.

A cappuccino or other milky espresso drink, in the foreground, with heart shaped latte art, and an agave or similar succulent in the background.

Revolution Roasters

Revolution Roasters, located in Oceanside, is an essential coffee stop. With a wide variety of beans and blends available, as well as their commitment to quality, Revolution Roasters is a must-visit. Don't forget to grab a pound of coffee to enjoy at home.

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The WestBean Coffee Roasters

The WestBean Coffee Roasters is a well-regarded roaster with multiple locations in San Diego. Known for their artisanal syrups and commitment to quality, they offer a range of traditional and unique coffee drinks.

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Breakfast Sandwich #1 at The WestBean Coffee Roasters in Banker’s Hill

James Coffee Co., located in various spots around San Diego, is a beloved local cafe chain known for its beautiful locations, expansive menu, and outstanding coffee and espresso drinks. They now serve to-go drinks in mason jars, requiring a deposit that is refunded upon return.

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Portal Coffee, located between Little Italy and the waterfront, offers a unique coffee experience. Along with their nonstandard drinks and massive croissants, they pride themselves on not serving a "Not A Starbucks Macchiato." They also feature local artwork and have plenty of outdoor seating.

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Portal’s patio, with a brick facade and people sitting outside drinking, dining and socializing.

Better Buzz Coffee Hillcrest

This local coffee roaster has established a network of satellite locations throughout San Diego County, each boasting impressive design and perfect for capturing Instagram-worthy moments. Their eye-catching headquarters in Hillcrest is always bustling and popular, serving a variety of specialty drinks and delicious brunch snacks.

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A modern coffee counter and pastry case.

Located inside a flower shop, this coffee spot in OB places great emphasis on using quality ingredients and maintaining quality control. They have a strong focus on organic products, from their coffee beans to organic milks, organic ceremonial-grade matcha, and house-made organic flavor-boosting syrups.

Public Square Coffee House

Amidst the bustling atmosphere of East County, this coffee shop stands out as one of the best. They specialize in serving latte art over light-roasted espresso, single-origin pour overs, kombucha, and fizzy kefir sodas. The cafe provides a cozy ambiance and a homely patio, making it a beloved spot for coffee enthusiasts. And let's not forget about their tempting food menu, featuring a substantial coffee-rubbed pork sandwich, a hearty breakfast sandwich, and scrumptious scones.

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Latte art pour at Public Square Coffee House, with a person in an apron holding a dark latte cup and pouring milk to form a swirly pattern.

This cafe in El Cerrito took the opportunity to expand into roasting during the pandemic. The friendly atmosphere of this location is complemented by their fantastic drinks, which include rotating seasonal specials. Offering a bright roast and hearty sandwiches, this cafe has quickly become a favorite among locals.

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The Forum Coffee House

Indulge in a wide range of creative drinks made with their house-roasted coffee beans at The Forum Coffee House. They also offer a delectable selection of sweet and savory treats. This place is a hit among students and laptop users who appreciate a spacious and comfortable environment to work or socialize. Matcha enthusiasts will be delighted to find that the cafe serves imported Japanese ceremonial-grade matcha. Plus, their espresso is sustainably sourced and roasted using a zero-emission process.

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Maple latte and tomato tart at The Forum Coffee House

Bay Park Coffee

This laid-back neighborhood coffee shop in Bay Park embodies the essence of a perfect community gathering place. The owner is dedicated to providing a welcoming environment and personally knows many of the customers by name. If you're a new visitor, prepare to be greeted with a warm smile and enjoy their outstanding espresso drinks, sourced from Zumbar.

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Closeup of a latte art heart.

Flor and Seed Coffee Roasters

Flor and Seed, a staple at the Little Italy Mercato, has finally opened a permanent storefront in Old Town. They proudly highlight microlot coffee sourced from Mexico through direct trading with local farmers. Their cafe also offers house-made syrup to enhance the flavors of traditional drinks like cafe de olla. Don't forget to try their selection of breads and pastries from the local pop-up bakery, Pan Del Barrio.

In the densely populated community of City Heights, one might be surprised to find a limited number of coffee shops. However, Cafeina has managed to put this neighborhood on the coffee map for several reasons. They consistently serve strong shots of espresso, and their menu offers a blend of playful and classic drinks. The cafe also provides a cool and shaded patio, delectable ice cream, and a team of friendly staff.

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Bringing serious coffee and a warm atmosphere to Mission Hills, this cafe roasts its own coffee in Chula Vista. They offer a menu of straightforward coffee and espresso drinks, along with vegan pastries from the local bakery, Hazel and Jade.
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Sidewalk and storefront of a coffee shop.

This veteran coffee roaster played a crucial role in elevating San Diego's coffee scene many years ago, and they continue to impress with their consistently delicious cappuccinos and other offerings. Calabria stays true to the authentic Italian tradition, maintaining the excellence of their original espresso recipe. Additionally, they bring the same dedication to their Neapolitan pizza, prepared with simple ingredients using traditional techniques.

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Caffe Calabria

Craft Cafe by Mingei - Balboa Park

Visiting Balboa Park? Don't miss out on the new cafe inside the Mingei Museum. This charming spot serves Dark Horse coffee, along with a selection of pastries, smoothies, and salads. You can enjoy your treats at the many small tables surrounding the cafe, making it the perfect place to relax, people-watch, or get some work done. It has quickly become a favorite among many visitors.

La Colombe Coffee

San Diego is fortunate to have an outpost of the esteemed Philadelphia-based roaster, La Colombe. Located in UTC, this coffee shop offers their signature blends, such as the rich and robust original Corsica blend, as well as the smoother and rounder medium-roasted Nizza blend. Served in beautiful Italian Deruta ceramic mugs, it's an experience to savor.

Cafe Virtuoso

Cafe Virtuoso, a certified organic roaster, has been a part of the San Diego coffee scene long before Barrio Logan became trendy and before Petco Park was even built. One of their standout offerings is their excellent mocha, perfectly balanced and not overly sweet. Their beans are featured in numerous local restaurants, including Plum Kitchen in North County, Devil's Dozen in Little Italy, and the Waverly in Cardiff.

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The brick storefront of Cafe Virtuoso, with the black and yellow logo hanging above the door.

Kaffee Meister - Lakeside Coffee Bar & Drive-Thru

Kaffee Meister, an East County coffee shop and roaster, has two locations: one in a charming Santee strip mall surrounded by mature trees, and another nestled inside a quaint antique shop in Lakeside that even has a drive-thru. The main attraction here is their expertly crafted lattes with microfoam, delightfully balanced cappuccinos, and overall exceptional beans. (Note: Due to their owner and roaster's current illness after open heart surgery, they are temporarily using beans from Mostra and another roaster.)

A hand pours milk into a cup of espresso, to produce latte art

Por Vida

This cafe and roaster, with its original location in Barrio Logan near Chicano Park since 2015, has expanded to the Old Town Urban Market. Por Vida is known for their creamy dulce de leche latte, aromatic cafe de la olla, and indulgent Mexican hot chocolate. Despite the rising prices in the coffee industry, they still offer the rare opportunity to savor an espresso shot for just $2.

Whipped cream tops a coffee drink at Por Vida. Next to the coffee are assorted succulents in small pots, and the street is in the background.

The Coffee Method

Inside a flower shop in Ocean Beach, you'll find The Coffee Method, a coffee spot that prioritizes quality ingredients and strict quality control. They have a predominantly organic focus, extending from their coffee beans to their organic milks, organic ceremonial-grade matcha, and their own house-made organic flavor-boosting syrups.

Portal Coffee

Located between Little Italy and the waterfront, Portal Coffee offers a delightful twist on traditional drinks. Their "Not A Starbucks Macchiato" captures their philosophy of providing unique and memorable beverages. In addition to their unconventional menu, they also serve massive croissants and other delectable baked goods.

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Portal’s patio, with a brick facade and people sitting outside drinking, dining, and socializing.

Heartwork Coffee

Heartwork Coffee is a cafe in Mission Hills that brings a serious coffee experience and a warm atmosphere. They roast their own coffee in Chula Vista and offer a menu of straightforward coffee and espresso drinks. They also have delicious vegan pastries from local bakery Hazel and Jade.

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Sidewalk and storefront of a coffee shop.

Scrimshaw Coffee

Scrimshaw Coffee is a friendly and welcoming cafe in El Cerrito that started roasting its own coffee during the pandemic. They offer great drinks, including rotating seasonal specials, a bright roast, and hefty sandwiches.

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Brew Coffee Spot

Brew Coffee Spot is a bustling hub in La Mesa, just a short detour from Lake Murray. It has revived this quiet corner of the neighborhood and offers a lively atmosphere. You'll find students studying, remote workers on their laptops, groups of friends chatting, parents with strollers refueling, and even four-legged pals. They roast their coffee four to five times a week on-site, offering single-origin and blend options to cater to different preferences. They also have a robust food menu.

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Coffee plus milk in a glass tumbler, created by Brew Coffee Spot.


Cafeina is located in City Heights, a dense and centrally located community. It has become a popular coffee destination, even with North Park less than a mile away. Cafeina is known for its consistently strong shots, creative menu with playful drinks and classics, cool and shaded patio, ice cream, and friendly team.

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New and trendy

Saigon Coffee, North Park | Saigon Coffee is a Vietnamese Coffee business that you may recognize from its presence at the Hillcrest and Poway farmers markets. It recently opened its brick-and-mortar store in North Park, where you can try their signature brew or get a specialty iced drink.

Adore Coffee, Cortez Hill | Adore Coffee is a Ukrainian-owned coffee shop that brings its buzzy, colorful drinks to the downtown community. We recommend trying their blue and yellow "Brave Latte," as each one sold contributes money to benefit families in Ukraine.

Lovesong Coffee, North Park | Lovesong Coffee is designed as a love song to the North Park community. They offer comfortable cafe seating and grab-and-go food and drinks. Their "top shelf" lattes, including one dedicated to singer Jack Johnson, are worth checking out.

Mnemonic Coffee, Bankers Hill | Mnemonic Coffee is a unique shop that serves lattes, cold brews, teas, and zero-proof drinks. They pride themselves on sourcing sustainable coffees, and their cafe has a cool feel inspired by the 1970s.

Breakfast Republic, Various | Breakfast Republic is a trendy breakfast restaurant with multiple locations in San Diego. They offer their signature Breakfast Republic Blend in restaurants, as well as boozy coffee cocktails like the "Drunken Oreo Cream" and "French Toasts on the Rocks." They also have a to-go counterpart called Eggies where you can grab non-alcoholic drinks.

If you know of a coffee shop that's not on the list, let us know!

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters is committed to quality, from how they pull shots to the overall customer experience. Pair a cortado or cold brew with a treat from Dark Horse's own doughnut or ice cream company to satisfy your caffeine and sugar cravings.

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Dark Horse Coffee Roasters beans

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, a certified organic roaster, has been operating on National Avenue long before Barrio Logan was trendy and Petco Park existed. They offer excellent mochas that are not too sweet and their beans are featured at local restaurants.

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The brick storefront of Cafe Virtuoso, with the black and yellow logo hanging above the door.

Cafe Virtuoso is a coffee shop and roaster with an original location in Barrio Logan. They recently opened at the Old Town Urban Market. Their menu includes lovely espresso drinks, inventive and inspiring breakfast and brunch items, and pastries from their adjoining bakery.

Whipped cream tops a coffee drink at Por Vida. Next to the coffee are assorted succulents in small pots, and the street is in the background.

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La Clochette Du Coin

La Clochette Du Coin is a lovely cafe in Pacific Beach that serves delicious espresso drinks and offers inventive and inspiring breakfast and brunch items. They have pastries from their adjoining bakery, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely daytime meal or a quick snack with a cup of joe.

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Dark Horse Normal Heights

Dark Horse micro coffee roasters is rounding out the list. It's a favorite coffee shop of my husband, who was born and raised in San Diego. While they have four locations in the city, the original Dark Horse coffee roasters are located in Normal Heights. You can even buy their own roasted coffee beans to enjoy at home.

Location: 3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

So there you have it, you now know "The 30 Best Coffee Shops in San Diego, California". Feel free to drop your favorites in the comments below so I can do some more research. Also, don't forget to check out my San Diego Ultimate Restaurant Guide.

Holsem Coffee - North Park

Holsem Coffee is a super modern and clean cafe located in the heart of North Park. They are known for their delicious coffee and have a cute outdoor seating area where you can enjoy people-watching on El Cajon Blvd.

Location: 2911 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

With an abundance of top-notch coffee shops to choose from, San Diego stands as a coffee lover's paradise. From the cozy and quaint to the hip and trendy, there is something for every caffeine connoisseur. Whether you find yourself sipping a perfectly brewed cup at the sleek Ironsmith Coffee Roasters or indulging in the delectable offerings of Holy Matcha, the city's vibrant coffee scene is sure to impress even the most discerning palate. So, grab your favorite mug and embark on a journey through the diverse and exciting world of San Diego's best coffee. Your taste buds will thank you.

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