Cafe+Coffee Shop Guide, San Diego

Sitting here sipping a homemade latte cuz #bae-rista for life. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I recently got a Breville espresso machine, and I’m obsessed with it!

But let’s back up a second- I have not always been a coffee drinker. It has only been in the last year and a half that I have reallllly started drinking coffee. I would say it has become a daily delight for me in the past 4 months. It started as a once a week thing during my dietetic internship (tbh staying awake at a desk in the basement of a hospital is no joke). Then it gradually became a more frequent thing as I fell in love with the coffee/espresso/barista culture. I love the taste of  good coffee/espresso, and holding a nice warm cup feels like a little endorphin rush. Perfectly foamed milk? I melt.

Yes, I appreciate the caffeine boost in my busy student/work/social life schedule, but honestly, I love the experience of going to a cafe or coffee shop, mingling with locals and friends, and enjoying a perfectly crafted latte. Which brings me to the point of this post-  a list of all the places where I love to get my fix in San Diego. I have had plenty of time to venture San Diego in the quest for my favorite latte (and I have found it!). Beyond my favorite latte, there are also some serious gems in San Diego that are fun to hit up for a change of scenery and when you are feeling like treating yo’self to that coffee shop lyfe.

These are some of my favorite places to get my cafe-vibes on. I break down the highlights of each place so you know where to go, whether you need to study or get some avocado toast with your latte. You’re welcome.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters


DH has three locations throughout San Diego: Normal Heights, Golden Hill, and North Park. They make a mean matcha latte as well as a regular latte. An added bonus and my personal favorite reason to go to Dark Horse- Skinny Donuts. This local doughnut company makes the BEST vegan doughnuts, which Dark Horse so kindly sells. Get the “stack” and order a doughnut to top your bevvie. Can’t go wrong with chocolate or vanilla, but they have more adventurous flavors like cherry pie and pink lemonade.


If you are looking to hang out for a bit and get some studying done, head to the Golden Hill location. They have a rad outdoor courtyard that’s fun to hang out in and stays relatively quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of the busy coffee shop.

Holy Matcha


Literally can’t put enough heart eye emojis to describe this place. It’s pink, trendy, and everything on the menu is matcha perfection. There is no coffee here- it’s strictly San Diego’s premiere matcha cafe. Everything is vegan, too! Iced lattes, ceremonial matcha, matcha doughnuts, avocado toast, matcha lemonade, the list goes on. It’s also an instagrammer’s paradise- I went to the opening, and they had this gorgeous live flower wall. Does it get any dreamier?!


Holy Matcha recently debuted a vegan matcha soft-serve that is to die for! Holy Matcha is constantly pumping out new creations, so you can be sure every time you stop by, there will be some beautiful new creation on the menu. Seating is pretty limited, so if its busy, order all the matcha things, take some fancy pics, and walk around North Park exploring the cool shops.



Holsem Coffee


Another North Park stop with some fun specialty coffee drinks. Coffee and non-coffee drinker alike can find something here. Matcha lattes (obvi a go-to) and some crazy-good cold brew infusions- think banana bread, lemon meringue, and gingerbread- set Holsem apart. Feeling a hot drink? Try a Lavender Latte or the La Vie En Rose- a cappuccino with rose petals, cardamom, and rosewater.

If you need a snack, try the coconut chia seed pudding or the ever-popular avocado toast.

Communal Coffee

Technically still in North Park…what is up with me and North Park? I somehow always end up in this area, and for good reason. They do cafes and coffee shops very well!! Communal Coffee shares a space with Native Poppy, the cutest specialty flower shop where you can make your own bouquets or pick up cute little whimsical gifts. Coffee and flowers? Yes, please! Communal has a fabulous range of standard coffee and espresso beverages, with some nice floral nods- lavender and rose both make an appearance in latte form.

And no coffee shop on my list would be complete without avocado toast! If you are feeling something sweet, the lavender honey toast with goat cheese is also quite dreamy. Stay a while to study or catch up with friends- they have plenty of seating both indoors and out, though it does fill up during coffee rush times and weekends.


Lofty Coffee

Did I save the best for last? In my opinion, yes…yes I did! Lofty has a special place in my heart where all of my obsessions live. It is the reason I got an espresso machine in the first place. I was, ahem, spending tooooo much money here. They make my absolute favorite latte in all the land. Is it the beans? Is it the housemate almond milk? Perhaps it’s both, perhaps it’s pure magic.

They have 3 locations around SD: Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Little Italy. You can find me frequenting the Solana Beach location chatting up my barista besties. I LOOOOOVE the almond milk latte (hot or iced), but they also have a killer fresh-made-daily, from-scratch zucchini muffin and yep, you guessed it- avocado toast! This is my happy place haha. I have limited myself to going here about once every 7-10 days, which makes it seem more special. There is great outdoor seating, which is ideal for both studying and people watching. In my eyes, Lofty can do no wrong. Except close at 6 pm haha. I would love to have 24 hour access, thank you very much!


Are there any places in San Diego I need to check out? I would love any recommendations! In the meantime, I will be in my own kitchen, brewing up a homemade latte and perfecting my bae-rista skills.

Have a fab weekend!



2 thoughts on “Cafe+Coffee Shop Guide, San Diego

  1. This makes me want to have coffee, but its almost midnight and I am an insomniac…..I heard a little birdie whisper rumors of a Bouquets and Baguettes Barista Soiree…..I think its time to create your own B&B cafe 🙂

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