Words by Chad Lanting. Photography by Ike Percifield.
San Diego County is experiencing a coffee renaissance of sorts as neighborhoods and cities all over the county embrace craft coffee. One lesser known neighborhood for specialty coffee lovers is coastal Carlsbad Village. Our Contributor, Chad Lanting, takes you on a tour of the latest openings among the urban wineries, and farm to table dining experiences. Join him below on this walkable coffee tour of Baba Coffee, SteadyState Roasting, and Sleeping Tiger Coffees. Then go take the tour using our online map.
State Street in Carlsbad appears to be getting a facelift as several new businesses and residences have either opened or are slated to open. Baba Coffee, located at 2727 State St. #100, is indicative of this renewal. Baba Coffee only very recently opened their doors, or rather rolled up the garage doors, to allow the Southern California coastal air to spill into their inviting industrial interior. Cinder block walls display a prominent sheet-glass menu board. Baba proudly serves coffee and espresso from Pannikin Coffee & Tea to offer such staple drinks such as coffee, lattes, mochas, and cappuccinos. Baba also features pastries from Pannikin and donuts from VG donuts. To satisfy more hearty appetites, Baba serves a breakfast sandwich made on Prager Bros Bread and several other items including acai bowls, bagels, and oatmeal. They also feature a variety of teas from Tea Gallerie as well as a selection of craft beers. Next to the menu board, the brick wall is adorned with the word “Baba” in a black, looping scrawl with the tagline “16th Century Coffee Bean Smuggler.” This tagline alludes to Baba Budan, a 16th century Sufi. Lore holds, he smuggled seven coffee beans back to cultivate in his home of India. In the spirit of its namesake and his hundreds of years of impact on coffee history, Baba Coffee is starting to make its mark on Carlsbad and the San Diego craft coffee scene.
Steady State Roasting
If you leave the sidewalk and meander down the gravel path, past a mural reminiscent of Banksy, you may feel like you’ve taken a trip down the rabbit hole, but you will not end up in Wonderland. You will, however, find yourself at the door of Steady State Roasting at 2680 State St. in Carlsbad. Upon entering the door, you won’t be greeted by the White Rabbit, but you may find Elliot, owner and operator, standing behind the bar. Steady State is a different experience than you will find in other coffee shops or roasting facilities. Steady State Roasting is part of a collective, meaning that on site, you will also find woodworking, ceramics, and welding facilities.
On my visit, I sipped a pour over of Guatemala Huehuetenango that was crafted with an attention to detail that you would expect from an artisan who takes pride in his or her craft. Meanwhile, in the room next door, one of the other artisans in the collective worked on a solid wood-slab table. Elsewhere in the building, another of the artisans, Rusty, greeted me in his shop which specializes in repurposed glass bottles Rusty transforms as well as featuring other handmade goods from local craftspeople. As I chatted with Elliot, he was kind enough to also pour me a cup of a sparkling tea known as Cascara which is made from coffee cherries. The flavor is subtle and sweet, and the fizzy, iced concoction was quite refreshing.
Steady State Roasting features a selection of Eliot's own roasted coffees, which might change depending on what he is roasting at the time. Elliot also operates his in house espresso machine to offer espresso-based drinks including his Deconstructed Cappuccino which allows one to sample the steamed milk and espresso separately before combining them for the classic drink. If you are inclined to survey some of Elliot’s roasting, consider his Flight of 3 Coffees. On the wall opposite the Steady State counter, there are shelves made by the collective’s woodworker and art created by one of Elliot’s friends. Ultimately on my trip down the rabbit hole didn’t lead me to a Mad Tea Party, but did provide me the chance to drink some great coffee and meet the inviting cast of characters of this local collective, all of whom seem to take their coffee breaks with Elliot at Steady State Roasting.
Sleeping Tiger Coffees
Sleeping Tiger Coffees at 2906 Carlsbad Blvd. gets the inspiration for its name from “Catnap,” the colorful mural by Michael Summers on its northern exterior wall. To find about the inspiration for the coffees being offered up at Sleeping Tiger, you’d have to speak to Fallon, the on-site roaster. Behind the bar, a fire-engine red Primo roaster is prominently on display. Sleeping Tiger Coffees features its own single origin roasts from various regions. Fallon also experiments with her own blends which may end up on the regular menu. I ordered a pour over with beans from Ethiopia. After grinding the freshly roasted beans, Fallon poured the hot water employing the modern-looking Seraphim coffee brewing system. On my visit, I also got to sample the cold brew on nitro.
Sleeping Tiger Coffees shares a roof with Witch Creek Winery and is part of the transformation that is happening in the space. The interior is vast, yet welcoming with a door that opens out onto Carlsbad Blvd. and invites foot traffic inside. In the center of the room, there are numerous high tables to sit at, and above, elegant chandeliers hang providing ambient light. At the south side of the building, what was once a storage area for wine barrels, is now a spacious outdoor patio with rustic door frames decorating the walls. The abundance of outdoor seating highlights the predominance of moderate, pleasant weather that is life in coastal Southern California. There are myriad of reasons to wander into Sleeping Tiger Coffees, such as an appreciation for craft coffee, picking up a new book, or just a stroll in sunny Carlsbad, but whatever your inspiration, it’s worth stopping by.