Ok ok, I’m a basic bitch and I love my cute coffee shops. I tend to stick with straight black coffee and I feel like that’s the best way to genuinely taste how great the coffee beans are, however, I love trying the barista’s variations of different espresso drinks as well. Some of the more popular unique creations to note are the rose and lavender lattes. I guzzle large amounts of coffee so I’m down to always get a coffee flight of the specialty drinks with a cold brew to go. Lol!
I’ll be honest, these coffee shops made this list for the cute aesthetics and interior decor initially, but their coffee is also great. It might not be THE BEST COFFEE YOU EVER TRIED (for those coffee snobs reading) but both coffee and coffee shop are worth the visit. There will definitely be some coffee shops with GREAT coffee that didn’t make the list but I’ll come up with “The Greatest Coffee” list separately… Let me have my basic bitch moment!!!
1. Oliver Coffea | Hillcrest | IG: @olivercoffea
This is one of the cutest little coffee shops with the best looking pastries. The pastry chef/owner makes everything from scratch and includes a lot of vegan options in her rotating menu. When I first started my foodography journey, most places with beautiful foods did not taste great. Today, that has completely changed and Oliver Coffea is proof of that. I got the cold brew that was very smooth and good enough to make it to the top of my list. I also tried the vegan empanada and the strawberry bundt cake which were both equally tasty.
2. Communal Coffee | North Park | IG: @communalcoffee
I think this is one of the more popular well-known basic bitch coffee shops in San Diego. I feel like everyone and their mamas instagram a picture from here. Coffee was good. The toast flight was very unique. I love the flower shop that’s connected. This place can literally take all my money and I’d still be begging for more.
My only con: If you want to serve a latte flight on the menu, please either include 3 drinks in the fitted slot or don’t have this at all. I don’t know why I paid for a flight to include only 2 lattes and a cup of water. I feel like there could have been a better way to handle this. Include a black espresso, a cold brew taster, or even a plain latte to compare. You can even use that slot for a little unique condiments section with sugar, honey, agave, etc. This made the flight look cheap and ruined the flight experience for me personally.
3. Copa Vida | East Village | IG: @copa_vida
Copa Vida holds a place close to my heart. This is one of the first coffee shops I went to regularly because the food and coffee were so amazing. My ex-boyfriend was an extremely picky guy who also loved eating here too. That may or may not say a lot because picky eaters cannot be trusted fully but you check it out for yourself and feel free to reply back to me with your own feedback.
4. James Coffee Co. | Little Italy | IG: @jamescoffeeco
If you’re looking for a cool little spot to walk around while having your coffee, this is your jam! James Coffee Co. is located in a building that is shared with small little stores and also a “hipster” barbershop. I haven’t been to this location in a while because the coffee from James Coffee Co. is served at various other coffee shops so I’m not sure which one of these stores have changed but regardless, neat little spot.
I got a slightly different drink here because I wanted to try something unique. They served this coffee with a side of Topo Chico, which is a sparkling mineral water. I felt like I was drinking a really refreshing version of a coffee+soda. It was definitely unique and perfect for a hot summer day. Their coffee is really good and that’s probably why it’s served at so many other places all around San Diego.
5. The Forum Coffee Shop
This coffee shop may not be the most appealing off the bat because it’s located inside a very boring looking strip mall, however, it brings all the chill vibes inside. I literally went here and tried 3 different drinks all on my own. I mainly ordered this for instagram because I’m crazy like that but I couldn’t decide on one drink!
Pictured: Rose Latte, Matcha Latte, and Blue Chai Latte
Please do not make me choose a favorite. They were all unique in their own way and I’d come back to order all 3 again (:
6. Better Buzz Coffee | Hillcrest | IG: @betterbuzz
Better Buzz is a big ass coffee chain in San Diego. I feel like Better Buzz just exploded one day and there were a million of ’em everywhere. Needless to say, you see how popular it is…
I love the Hillcrest location because it’s big and roomy but also just has the coffee shop vibe I want. I’ve tried my favorite basic bitch menu item go to: the avocado toast. I’ve been here frequently so I tried several drinks and there wasn’t one I didn’t like. I think it’s a must try if you’re in town!
7. Lofty Coffee Co | Little Italy | IG: @loftycoffeeco
Now Lofty’s is one that I’m extremely torn posting about. I love the outdoor vibe in the heart of Little Italy, but I also have issues with the pricing of the food menu. I feel like there are a lot of basic veggies that are severely overpriced but it IS fresh quality so I don’t know. I definitely overpay for avocado toasts all the time but this power bowl was not filling at all and full of what I consider “cheap” veggies. It was just a LOT of cabbage and cauliflower which is why I’m just torn…….
The London Fog was good if you’re into tea lattes. I also got an americano after because I was working here and needed more fuel.
Just the London Fog + Superfood Bowl = almost $20 including tip.
I will add though that the bowl IS good. The coffee is good. The tea is good. I love the spot. I think this is more sticker shock than anything…
8. Yerba Mate Bar | Pacific Beach | IG: @baryerba
I never knew this place existed until instagram. Thank God for instagram. LOL. I get all my food inspo from here and hope to be food inspo for others as well.
First of all, the empanadas here are delicious. My favorite is the mushroom with the white olive sauce. I used to think the chipotle chimichurri was the best sauce until I tried this sauce + empanada combo and oh em gee! Shout out to the employee here for that recommendation.
Secondly, this is my first time trying a yerba mate latte. It was very unique and weird for me but still good. I had a Rose Yerba Mate and Lavender Espresso Latte. Comparing these two was very interesting. Yerba Mate caffeine tastes cleaner to me. I don’t know if that makes sense. I would still prefer the espresso latte but wouldn’t mind a yerba mate latte every once in a while.
That’s the list and that’s a wrap! I am open to new coffee shop suggestions so please feel free to leave any comments!