As the craft-beer capital of America, San Diego is home to countless breweries. The variety is so impressive that it boggles the minds of even the most experienced beer fans. It’s no surprise that pub-crawling — the age-old tradition of hitting up multiple pubs or bars in a single night as an excuse to gather with friends and get dead drunk — has successfully taken root in the city. However, sometimes excessive drinking comes across as a bad idea the morning after. Have a job interview the next day? Being healthy finally became your thing? Simply underage? If not alcohol, then what?
In San Diego, the rule is if you say no to beer, you say yes to coffee. So how about a coffee-shop crawl? Moving between coffee shops is not only a great way to try many drinks in one day, but it’s also a chance to show off your coffee-connoisseur self by comparing cappuccinos and pour-over coffee left and right. A coffee-shop crawl is a great way to hang out with someone new; it helps spark conversations and avoid awkward silences.
I should confess I have even tested coffee-shop crawling as an idea for a Tinder date, and it turned out to be a very positive experience, not only because being on the move allowed us to maintain a pleasant conversation, but also because coffee crawling is a morning activity, which makes a meeting with a stranger safe. Like pub crawls, coffee-shop crawls turn out best if planned with the right combination of forethought and room for improvisation, so here are some options for your next coffee run.
1. The Bean Bar
Location: 1068 K St., San Diego
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Average price for a drink: $3.50
Perks: Fresh pastries and cute baristas.
This newbie among coffee shops opened just five months ago. That being said, the owners and baristas, Sandra and Jason, have been in the coffee industry for quite a long time. Their wisdom isn’t hard to notice, considering The Bean Bar’s pour-over coffee and espresso are of undeniably high quality. While severe competition among San Diego coffee shops makes it hard for any new coffee place to stand out, you will definitely remember The Bean Bar’s unique ability to combine smooth flavor and rich aroma in all its drinks. The dreamy, light interior of this downtown location is full of sky-blue decorations that complement the pleasant milkiness of its drinks. Light, sunny and friendly, The Bean Bar is a great place to start your coffee-shop crawl.
2. La Marque
Location: 3590 5th Ave., San Diego
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday to Saturday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Average price for a drink: $3.75
Perks: Long opening hours, monthly specials.
La Marque is not just a coffee shop — it is a secret (shhh!) portal to Europe. The coffeehouse features two separate menus: one caffeinated and one non-caffeinated. The former is based on the Italian tradition of espresso drinks, while the latter includes truly European sparkling water — with all flavors of San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. Another distinctive feature of La Marque is its variety of coffee brands. Here, you can try coffee made from either local or world-famous bean brands such as Intelligentsia, Bird Rock Coffee, Cafe Moto, Lavazza and many others. Like Bean Bar, La Marque is a new addition to San Diego’s coffee family, but La Marque’s ambitions are anything but humble. The owners plan on adding beer and an extensive assortment of food to the menu. Soon, this coffeehouse will turn into a full-blown restaurant, so crawl there before it’s too late.
3. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
Locations: 3260 Adams Ave., San Diego &
3794 30thSt., San Diego
Hours: Monday to Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday to Sunday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Average price for a drink: $3
Perks: Pour-over coffee for every day of the week.
Dark Horse Coffee Roasters: a small coffee-shop chain with locations in San Diego and Truckee (a small mountain town in Nevada County, California!) values simplicity and quality over experiments and excessive originality. Dark Horse baristas do not use anything but black coffee and milk in their drinks because they believe that nothing can make good coffee better. This approach is undoubtedly worthy of respect, but can still disappoint caramel syrup fans and those who simply love variety. Dark Horse’s interior is as simple as its drinks and is covered in wooden surfaces and small black chalkboards. The coffee shop itself is also very compact, which makes it a good spot to grab a coffee and go rather than a place where you would want to sit for hours chatting with your friends. This, however, is a great motivation to walk around the neighborhood, coffee in hand, looking for a new coffeehouse to stop by.
Coffee-shop crawling is a great way to explore locations you have heard about before, but it is an even better way to find little coffee shops that none of your friends know about. While walking around, keep searching for new places because you might be lucky enough to discover your new favorite coffeehouse.