To anyone who saw this post before it was ready, I apologize. I was trying to take notes on my phone and accidently hit "publish," then I couldn't figure out how to undo it. So, here it is officially.
We planned a trip to Oceanside, CA with my brother and his family. We normally do parks like Seaworld and other trips, but they just wanted to chill. I get that, but we were expecting to be bored. The solution...go see as many coffee shops as possible! I created a list of 8 or 9 and we only got to 6. So here is a summery of my experience along with my ranking:
Revolution Roasters (#3): I really liked the design of this shop. The open air design is perfect for So-Cal. The baristas were sweet, but only one of them really knew anything about the coffee. This was kind of disappointing to me as I was hoping that the CA coffee scene was going to show me something different when it comes to service. The avacado toast I got was legit though. I loved it. The coffee was good, but not particularly remarkable.
Sleeping Tiger (#2): One of my favorite things about this place is that it is a huge shared space. Coffee bar on one side, wine bar on the other. All in like a warehouse kind of feel. The coffee was a 3 bean blend and quite tasty. I think it suffered from a little too much blend. There were lots of subtle flavors that made it good, but nothing really popped out. The girl I ordered with, and made my drink, really knew her stuff. I was super excited. It all made sense when she told me she was the roaster. That rocked my world. I've never had a roaster make me coffee. I love the idea that the one responsible for making the coffee follows it from purchase to roast to cup. She also took the time to answer some roasting questions for me. I really appreciated her and reccomend this spot.
Steady State (#1): This shop really checked all the boxes for me. The store design was very instagramable. The baristas were very personable. They asked my name, introduced themselves and shook my hand. That just doesn't happen. I loved it. The coffee was a washed Guatemalan and natural Ethopian blend. So it had a chocolate base and stone fruit pop. That is the perfect coffee for me. I'm not much of a nuance guy. I want 2 things done well, rather than 100 small complexities. The only down side is that it is off the beatan path. If I hadn't looked them up, I probably wouldn't have found them.
Banana Dang (#4): I watch these guys on instagram, so I wanted to stop in. The coffee was actually pretty good. They have 4 roasters they roate through. The shop was very eclectic, as the name would suggest. Baristas were nice and personable. The shop was a bit too hippie for me though. This is the only place we got paper straws...which, sorry Mother Earth, suck a lot. There is nothing like dry paper sticking to your lips when trying to enjoy a drink.
Jitters Coffee Pub (#6): I went to this shop because of the "pub" aspect. The store had a really cool bar from the prevoius tennent. The chairs looked like they were brought in from an old english abby. I really like the furniture. The owner/barista was nice and talked to us for a while. One thing I learned from her was to "buy only what you need." She said she was using product she bought from other people when they went out of business. They just bought too much. She said bulk doesn't really save you much, which is something I have been starting to think and she kind of reinforced it. She said they have a private roaster who delivers coffee to them. Unfortunately it was my least favorite. It just didn't taste good.
Pannels Comics and Coffee Bar (#5): I hit this spot purely for the mash up. I keep thinking that it's gotta be hard to make a coffee shop work on coffee alone. Comics are the same way. Comic book stores are actually digin out quickly. After talking to the guy there, it sounds like coffee kind of helps keep the comic store stay afloat. They had decent equipment and good coffee. They used BirdRock, who is a roaster doing pretty well in San Diego right now. The employee explained they got enough training to make decent coffee, but they were comic book people. I appreciated his honest. He did care about the quality of the product though. He was a delight. Spent some time talking coffee, then a lot more time talking comics. I truely believe that, to be really successful, you have to find the right mash up of different worlds. Coffee and comics was a good one.
There is a ton more I could go on an on about, like the foam on a cortado....why is it so rare to get good foam on a cortado?!
Anywho, Oceanside was a cool place and we had a really great time.