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Jul 26, 2010 05:12 PM

Great coffee in Del Mar?

Not a fan of Starbucks - I NEED a strong cup of coffee in the a.m. to operate. Recommendations?

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  1. Pannikin has spots both in Del Mar right at Via De La Valle and the 5 (just east in the shopping center on the north side of the street) as well as on PCH just up the coast in Solana Beach.

    if you want a bit of a trek Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in the La Jolla/Bird Rock area has the best coffe and espresso in San Diego.

    4 Replies
    1. re: swicks

      I find Pannikin to be awful in terms of execution at the bar; nearly clueless, really, due to apparently little to no training in proper technique. OTOH Bird Rock is a great place, but I'd recommend them only to buy the beans; like many cafes I find that they fail in execution at the bar. Bird Rock, however, has the best selection of worthwhile and interesting single-origin coffees that I've yet to find in San Diego.

      My recommendation for you would be Zumbar Cafe; while not in Del Mar, it's not very far either, being located right off of the I-5 in Sorrento Valley. (From Del Mar take I-5 South to Genessee, cross over the freeway and take I-5 North to Sorrento Valley. Once off the freeway, cross under the I-5 and right next to the Southbound I-5 on-ramp is Zumbar Cafe...) At this time they are the only S.D. Cafe that's achieving any semblance of consistency at the bar.

      1. re: cgfan

        cgfan: I agree with your assessment of Bird Rock. Let's talk coffee in San Diego. Anything else out there that I may be missing?

        1. re: nhclaus

          my apologies. i just found the message board related to this topic. thanks for your input.

          1. re: nhclaus

            Unfortunately not, other than this great place for interesting single-origin brews and some tasty Ristrettos using house-roasted beans from Espresso Vivace in Seattle. Oh sorry, that'll be my place! :)

            Actually I still enjoy dropping into Yvonne's cart whenever I'm in the Kearny Mesa area during normal business hours. She runs the cart in front of the Kaiser Permanente building just east of the 805 on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. If you go make sure you let her know you're a coffee geek, as most of her customers are those who are already going to Kaiser and so are not true "destination" customers and typically orders nothing but the fru fru drinks.

            However there are a few coffee heads, including myself, who like to make a point of visiting her, mostly as a sign of moral support as she feels a bit stuck in a trying location to be doing really quality coffee and espresso. (The bulk of the clientele, the outdoor location, not having many "destination" customers, etc...)

            I find her a real hoot to talk to and she'll probably say something dismissive about her shots, but really she tries harder than anyone else in town to produce a good shot and will go through several sink shots before she feels she can serve a shot to me. Perhaps not the consistency of a shop like Zumbar, but her heart's in the right place.

            BTW I've been noticing for a while now that Caffe Calabria's really been improving in terms of shot consistency ever since they hired in some Italian baristas, though I think that was just a coincidence. As many on CH have heard me say before their very best barista was Analyn, who now conducts their barista training program for outside sales.

            But it's now clear to me that finally they're concentrating on in-house consistency and has turned around their batting averages from what used to be around 220 or so to now, let's say, around 900... At least that has been my experience there lately.

            Might be a good time to visit them now that they are just reopening from their remodel and will finally gear up to get their pizzeria going once they're able to secure a pizza chef.

      2. Try Cafe Secret at 1140 Camino Del Mar (btwn 11th and 12th St). It's owned and run by a Peruvian couple. They also make nice empanadas and other yummy, casual food with international flair.

        Cafe Secret
        1140 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014