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north park coffee

A Tour of San Diego's 30th Street Coffee Corridor

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A Tour of San Diego's 30th Street Coffee Corridor

Photo by Raymond Reyes

Photo by Raymond Reyes

Words by Raymond Reyes

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

Opened: Feb. 2015

Roaster: not on-site.

On 3794 30th St, Dark Horse Coffee Roasters expanded their territory into North Park, sharing a space with Waypoint Public. The café is small, but the coffees pack a big punch. Dark Horse focuses on the highest quality, whether it’s the beans, their crew, or their collabs. They offer vegan donuts daily and cold brew ice cream on weekends. Recently, Dark Horse partnered with Coffee & Tea Collective, Copa Vida, James Coffee Company, and Bean Bar on a San Diego “Dis-loyalty” Card, made to encourage the exploration of San Diego’s many coffee roasters. Be sure to pick one up at Dark Horse’s three San Diego locations, or any of the participating roasters, before supply runs out.

Photo by Raymond Reyes

Photo by Raymond Reyes

Holsem Coffee

Opened: May 2015

Roaster: on-site roasting.

Whether it’s the quality ingredients or the flawless interior, something will bring you back into Holsem Coffee.  Located in the heart of North Park, 2911 University Ave, Holsem’s patio is the perfect place for people-watching. The baristas are skilled and exceptional, sometimes offering to pour a rosetta into your latte. Without sacrificing quality or purity, you’ll want to try every drink on Holsem’s menu.

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Caffe Calabria

Opened: April 2001

Roaster: on-site roasting.

From espresso to pizza to soccer to wine, these italian favorites live in harmony in Caffe Calabria. Caffe Calabria is a 15 year-old North Park fixture at 3933 30th St. During the day, Calabria is a local-favorite workplace. By night, the wood burning oven is fired-up and the coffee is replaced with wine. Whatever your drink of choice, Caffe Calabria provides an ideal atmosphere.

Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle

Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle

Young Hickory

Opened: Sept. 2013

Cafe: Brews Bird Rock Coffee, and is currently collaborating for three-year anniversary specialty roast.

It’s hard to resist a place that paints “Hot Coffee Cold Beer” on its wall. That’s what Young Hickory, on 4096 30th St., will offer. The hot coffee comes from Bird Rock Coffee Roaster, with whom they’re collaborating for their third anniversary specialty roast later this month. On display is their variety of cold coffees, many of which are local, craft brews. With plenty of seats, outlets, and Wi-Fi, they have you covered for an hour or two.

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Coffee & Tea Collective

Opened: July 2012

Roaster: on-site.

Coffee & Tea Collective, 2911 El Cajon Blvd, uses just an ampersand (&) to mark its store. This flagship site boasts a knowledgeable staff and serves as its main roastery and tasting room. Coffee & Tea take coffee to a new level from beginning to end, starting with roasting complex and cohesive flavors to crafting your beverage. Its crisp, white walls are often loaned to local artists for small art shows. Sharing a passion, along with providing great coffee, is what Coffee & Tea Collective does best.

Photo via  nomaddonuts.com

Photo via nomaddonuts.com

Nomad Donuts

Opened: Dec. 2014

Donut & Coffee Shop: Previously brewed Zumbar, now collaborates with Global Coffee Trading on its specialty roast.

If you're feeling more adventurous with your appetite, wander over to Nomad Donuts, on 4504 30th St in North Park. Nomad takes tastes and flavors from around the world and incorporates them into their pastries and coffees. Their menu changes daily but it’s not hard to find something for everybody. Collaborating with Global Coffee Trading in Sorrento Valley, Nomad is no stranger to local business partnerships. It shouldn't surprise you to find one of their products in a brewery or restaurant. The space is decorated with vintage maps and offers a limited dog-friendly seating area where all are welcome.

Find more local coffee shops on our online MAP. Just click on a neighborhood, and we'll show you where to go.


About the Author

San Diego native, lifelong musician. Always in search of the next great cup of coffee or record spin. Find out where my adventures have taken me via Instagram: @hi_im_raymond.

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Season Two SDTNT Kick-off Hosted by Coffee & Tea Collective

Season 2 of the SDTNT kicked off Thursday, July 24, 2013. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

Season 2 of the SDTNT kicked off Thursday, July 24, 2013. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

By Pablo Lara, SDCN Staff Writer

The white walls of Coffee & Tea Collective reflected a certain brightness: the kind that exudes excitement and good times. A grand total of 44 participants made this night the most successful “Thursday Night Throwdown” the San Diego Coffee Network has put together. The huge bracket created an environment of thrill for the competitors; a pivotal element for a good Throwdown.

Judges Shad Biaz and Rigo Hernandez. A young coffee lover snags one of the pours to taste. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

Judges Shad Biaz and Rigo Hernandez. A young coffee lover snags one of the pours to taste. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

It was 6 pm and the crowd flowed much like the delicious cold brews served by Cafe Moto and Cafe Virtuoso. This necessary fuel, for such a hot summer evening, consisted of Moto’s “Viennese Blend” and a single origin Colombia Sofia. Cafe Virtuoso provided their Cold Brew blend, which I heard included Sumatra, Oaxaca and Congo beans. While Coffee and Tea Collective’s shining Linea waited in suspense, Riana Ritter (of Cafe Calabria) prepared to pull shots on the classic stainless steel La Marzocco.

Matt Barahura, Master of Ceremonies holds up a copy of The Espresso fresh off the presses. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

Matt Barahura, Master of Ceremonies holds up a copy of The Espresso fresh off the presses. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

The buzzing crowd consisted of baristas from all over San Diego, including Lofty Coffee Co., Elixir Espresso Bar, Zumbar, Cafe Virtuoso, Cafe Calabria, Cafe Moto, and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Out-of-towners included baristas from Kéan, Jorge Bourbon (a Tijuana independent), and the baristas bravos from Tijuana’s Das Cortez. Spectators of honorable mention included David Kennedy of James Coffee Co., Laurie Britton of Cafe Virtuoso, Daniel Charlson of Dark Horse, and Rigo Hernandez of San Diego Home Roasters.

Standing room only. The crowd spilled over onto the side walks of El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

Standing room only. The crowd spilled over onto the side walks of El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

The competition kicked off with some sexy Italo-Disco beats that inspired many tulips and rosettas. The pours were judged by Rigo Hernandez, Shad Baiz of Solutions Espresso Service and Andy Newbom, former owner of Barefoot Coffee. Competitors were given the freedom to free-pour the design of their choice and conquering the perfect tulip seemed to be the goal of the night.

Two pours. One Victor. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

Two pours. One Victor. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

Goody bags donated by local roasters were raffled out, participants walked away with coveted roasts and rad t-shirts. As the night acquired a much deserved breeze, tracks by Modern Talking relaxed the anxious competitors. The courageous 43 simmered down to 8 under the constant hum of Mazzers and steam. This elite group of qualifiers included Marco and Alex of Elixir, TJ of Higher Grounds in Idyllwild, David and Daniel of Coffee & Tea Collective, Adriana of Cafe Moto, Lindsey of Zumbar and Miguel of Daz Cortes.

Daniel Holcomb, owner of Coffee & Tea Collective, free-pours a tulip into a skull vase, which sets the crowd a-fire. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

Daniel Holcomb, owner of Coffee & Tea Collective, free-pours a tulip into a skull vase, which sets the crowd a-fire. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle of the San Diego Coffee Network.

Daniel Holcomb of Coffee & Tea Collective poured into a skull shaped vase provided by neighboring Gym Standard, and Lindsey poured a tulip that seemed to have infinite layers. The ambiance was filled with delight as the crowd watched the pours and enjoyed delicious hand tossed marguerita pizza graciously provided by Tribute Pizza and Catering with refreshing cocktails by Cock on the Walk.  

Hand tossed, hand crafted pizzas by Tribute Pizza. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

Hand tossed, hand crafted pizzas by Tribute Pizza. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

We told you it was hand tossed. Literally. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

We told you it was hand tossed. Literally. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

By the end of the night, the anxious competitiveness had dispersed and the top 4 battled with joy. Alex was a step above TJ and Little Adriana got trumped by Big Daniel. The two finalists went on. The moment I introduced Daniel to Alex they hugged each other and quickly agreed to pour into 2.5oz demitasses. Alex was first to present his final pour: a beautiful heart. Anticipation flooded the room as Daniel gave the judges a 3 layered tulip, earning him a much deserved win.

Final pour. Daniel of Coffee & Tea Collective's pour (left) wins it for the Home Team. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

Final pour. Daniel of Coffee & Tea Collective's pour (left) wins it for the Home Team. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

As the crowd dispersed, Daniel thanked the judges with homemade preserves (lucky them!). Daniel, our humble host and winner, donated the bracket winnings to the San Diego Coffee Network, thereby facilitating the continuation of these invigorating, community-building events.

Stickers and other give-a-ways at the Latte Art Competition compliments of the  Barista Guild , La Marzocco and  Espresso Parts . Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

Stickers and other give-a-ways at the Latte Art Competition compliments of the Barista Guild, La Marzocco and Espresso Parts. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

For more information on community events in San Diego, visit us at www.sdcoffeenetwork.com/events. The next Throwdown is at Lofty Coffee Co., Thursday, August 21, in Encinitas at their new roastery off North Coast Hwy 101. We look forward to seeing you there!

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