The week bridging Christmas and New Year hit me particularly hard this time around. It’s not a typical week off from work, yet it doesn’t quite feel like a return to normal life either. It’s a peculiar, transitional period when nothing seems to hold much significance or feel entirely real. Hence, it turned out to be the perfect week for me to break free from my daily coffee routine.
As the clock struck midnight on December 31st, I eagerly anticipated the return of my morning coffee ritual. Coffee has become a staple in my daily routine, and with the city’s growth, San Diego’s coffee culture has flourished. Numerous small businesses now offer not only quality coffee but also a warm community and comfortable spaces for those working and learning remotely.
While San Diego is often associated with laid-back living and coastal vibes, a closer look reveals a thriving coffee culture filled with discerning and well-caffeinated locals, including myself. Over the past decade, San Diego has elevated its coffee scene, thanks to emerging small-batch roasters and shops that embrace an experimental, artisanal approach.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of unique coffee shops that I’m very excited to explore in 2024.
1) Rikka Fika
A modern Japanese-meets-Scandinavian design that mirrors the cafe’s name — “rikka” is the Japanese word for the beginning of summer and “fika” is the Swedish tradition of relaxing for a coffee break — the East Village storefront will also host coffee and dessert omakase experiences featuring pour-over coffee sourced from international roasters. Marked by minimalist charm, this cool coffee shop is not only ready to satiate the desires of your taste buds, but it’s design aesthetic will satisfy your eye candy cravings, too
Location: East Village
2) Saigon coffee
When I visited Hanoi,Vietnam last year, I had a chance to try their famous egg coffee. And I was pleasantly surprised when I drove past Saigon Coffee in North Park a few months ago and found out they also serve the same coffee drink here in San Diego. Boring coffee is a bygone when it comes to Saigon. By brewing their coffee through Vietnamese Phin Filters (a 4-hour-long process), this shop prioritizes old-fashioned methods that stir flavors of San Diego’s coffee scene. The clean and modern coffee bar was founded by a brother-and-sister duo who grew up in a small town in Vietnam where their mother used to make the best cup of joe for them. Offering menu selections like the Famous Saigon Coffee and Hanoi Egg Coffee, the sibling transports visitors to another time through the taste of their hometown.
Location: North Park
3) Lovesong Coffee
There’s more than coffee brewing at Lovesong Coffee and Market in North Park, a space intended for pouring hand-crafted lattes and fostering loving human connections. Set apart by gorgeous light and gold accents, this plant-filled space is ready to exceed expectations. Everything about Lovesong is marked by excellence, whether that be their fun drinks such as the Sweater Weather (infused with flavors like pumpkin and butternut squash) or their masterful presentation of every item on their menu or in their market
Location: North Park
Mom’s day out just became way more possible. The Lullabar is a beautiful wellness cafe that provides opportunities for mothers to reconnect with themselves and their community. It’s a space to meet up with friends while the little ones can go to the play gym. Moms can get a mani/pedi, go to a workshop, join a meditation class, take time to get work done or grab a bite to eat. Their cafe also offers delicious drinks like lattes, matcha and lemonades. This place is ideal for any moms in San Diego that need a little break, self care or have a nice place to relax.
The play gym is ideal for kiddos 16 months to 6 years.
Did you know you can have an authentic Turkish coffee experience in Del Mar? Del Mar’s Bohemian Alchemist represents the marriage of many cultures. Embracing a bohemian lifestyle, this shop is all about blending Eastern and Western elements— whether those be ingredients or design aesthetics. Warming their beverages in the sand (a technique first used in Turkey), you get your drink with a show. Some of the potions offered are restorative teas, coffee drinks and house-made sweets.
Location: Del Mar
6)Il Giardino di LilliIl
II Giardino di Lilli, meaning ‘Lilli’s garden’ is a beautiful Italian garden cafe and bakery located in the heart of La Jolla Village. This beautiful space is inspired by the founder Stefania’s late grandmother, Lilliana Carani – whose kitchen and garden in Italy were home to some of Stefania’s fondest memories growing up. Based upon family recipes passed down generations, Lilli’s pastries & desserts bring a little bit of Italy to San Diego. Featuring a sophisticated patio and romantic Italian touches, Il Giardino di Lilli prioritizes excellence in quality of both food and aesthetics.
Location: La Jolla
Marked by stylistic marble and subway tile, Superbloom is a modern, outdoor coffee cottage. With tables, picnic umbrellas and a sweet succulent wall, this is a happy shop that you can walk up to on the property of Mission Bay Beach Club. Enjoy waterfront views as you sip on one of their super fun drinks, like The Sandy Beach or the Vanilla Biscuit Latte. What better way to enjoy your morning or afternoon than soaking in the sun and delighting your taste buds.
Location: Mission Bay
Perfect for perching and studying or grabbing on-the-go, Moniker Coffee is a breath of fresh air in the San Diego coffee scene. As an integral part of Moniker General, which is a space that houses the cafe, the cocktail bar and a store for home goods, this spot is a local favorite in the Liberty Station area. Sip on a seasonal treat like the Snickerdoodle Matcha or the Pumpkin Cheesecake Chia—or keep it classic with a single origin coffee.
Location: Liberty Station
9)Hinar Dessert Bar & Café
Late-night coffee and dessert scenes over crowded bars are a thing in Europe and the Middle East. But it is such a rarity in San Diego that you can have a dessert bar and café that’s open until 9 p.m. every night. This mid century modern dessert bar and cafe offers quality treats like tiramisu while you sip on coffee replete with detailed latte art. Checkered mugs and large globe lights are among the pieces which bring such great vibes to this shop. What better place to focus on work or meet up with friends than a space so thoughtfully curated?
Location: East Village
Which one are you most excited to try this year? Give me a call anytime if you’d like to meet up for a cup of coffee
Tina Wu Broker Associate® CalDRE #02070656
Direct: (760) 473-8649