Unique Craft Coffee Shops Found in Oceanside
The Oceanside Caffeine Crawl — for those looking for a serious (caffeine) buzz! Visit one of Oceanside’s many distinctive coffee and tea shops. Delight in discoveries such as comic books, vintage vinyl and local artwork. Love lattes, cold brews or tantalizing teas? You’ll find your perfect pick-me-up at one of the many unique cafes around town.
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Located on South Coast Hwy, Banana Dang is a small coffee bar that is big on character. Delight in the amusing name and cute smiling banana logo, enjoy the colorful pop artwork on the walls, play some chess and checkers, or just relax and watch the world go by while sitting at the window bar. The superb coffee drinks are prepared with vegan milk options then decorated with flourish.
The fun décor inside balances with the seriously amazing coffee, food, and upstanding green business practices Banana Dang commit themselves to such as recycling, composting and working with like-minded sustainable suppliers such as San Diego’s Manzanita Roasting Company.
On North Coast Highway, discover the bright spacious Brown Cup Café & Lounge. Owners Roger and Vilai Thavarajah invite you to relax and unwind in their friendly establishment. With plants everywhere, dining tables on one side and plush living room furniture on the other, the ambiance at the Brown Cup feels like home.
Some of their inventive bestselling drinks include the Snickerdoodle Latte, Lazy Raspberry Mocha and Caramel Swirl. Consider pairing with their scrumptious house made cheesecake, cookies or cakes. On the savory side, try the build your own breakfast sandwich, Sausage Panini or Turkey Avocado Roll. Since Vilai is from Thailand, she’s introducing authentic Thai menu items including Vegetable Lemongrass Soup, Chicken Coconut Soup and more.
Opened in September 2019, Camp Coffee Company brings a unique vibe all its own to the Oceanside coffee scene. Driven by a motto of “simply, well executed” the owners combined 50 years of coffee industry experience spills out into every aspect of their shop, not just their top class brew. With an atmosphere built around clean and simple design using reclaimed wood and mural art, Camp Coffee is inviting to locals and visitors alike and their customer service is equally warm making you feel like a part of their family.
Using Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (a San Diego staple) as the foundation, two must-try drinks include the Tribute Latte and Camp Mocha. Beyond coffee, the menu also includes a wide array of options ranging from traditional and vegan pastries to kefir soda, kombucha and more. Other food items include delectable grilled cheese on the panini grill and grilled toast topped with goat cheese and honey, nutella, or a number of other fun and delicious options!
Looking for a genuine localvore experience? Visit Captain’s Grounds Coffee at Captain’s Helm vintage clothing store on Hwy 101. Owners Ted and Jen Stoddard grew up and raised their family in Oceanside. They are true “Pirates” (Oceanside High School alumni). The Stoddards started Captain’s Helm to open a place where people could hang out and shop. Ted explains, “We wanted to create a retail spot that was unique, more of a destination. With vintage, you can’t really buy it online. You have to feel it, look at it.” Now the café attracts a following of loyal local regulars. A second location recently opened inside Seahive Marketplace north on Hwy 101.
Expect cheerful service and an exceptional cup of Joe. The San Diego Coffee Company supplies fresh coffee beans that are roasted just a block away. Captain’s Grounds most popular drinks are the Iced Dirty Chai and Iced Americano. For an off-menu coffee special try the Chicano, an Americano with chai. Do you prefer tea? Then you might enjoy the Horchata with Revolution Honeybush Caramel Tea, cinnamon, milk and honey.
Hungry? Choose from a delectable selection of fresh bagels, donuts and pastries that are delivered daily by Baked in the Sun out of Vista.
Longstanding Jitters Coffee Pub is run with a passion by cheerful owner/baker Vallie Gilley. Her community-based shop focuses on quality coffee and baked goods. Persimmon colored-walls, a library and local artwork help contribute to the café’s warm cozy atmosphere. A private roaster provides the custom, robust house blend, Oceanside’s Living Tea Brewing Company supplies the organic teas and kombucha, and the produce comes from the local Oceanside farmers market.
Spot surfers in the morning sipping Espresso Macchiatos. Choose from the comprehensive drink menu and baked goods made in house from scratch daily. Examples include their yummy Coconut Macaroons, Cinnamon Rolls and Love Muffins made with whatever is in season, from berries to pineapple-coconut. Breakfast served on weekends includes tasty organic eggs, fresh fruit and quiche specials.
Experience the spirit of aloha at Kona Hut Coffee House on Freeman Street. Congenial staff and a large lei-strewn tiki greet you at the counter. The homey tropical vibe invites you to relax in various comfortable seating areas. Colorful quilts, maps and island-inspired artwork decorate the walls.
The menu showcases a wide variety of Kona Blend and Hawaiian Blend coffee drinks. Adore chocolate? Opt for the Wipe Out white chocolate mocha or Hang Ten with chocolate, almond and coconut. Refreshing choices for a sunny day range from mango smoothies to tropical iced tea.
Breakfast/lunch food options include tasty bagels, sandwiches and acai bowls. For sweets consider a sinfully delicious pecan roll or healthy gluten-free blueberry muffin. You can even find vegan options like hot cereal or Snopel’s Bakeshop Bundt cakes.
Interested in a healthy morning beverage to jumpstart your day? Try one of Living Tea Brewing Company’s dozen flavors of fresh kombucha on tap. Enjoy free samples of this fizzy drink rich in probiotics and antioxidants. Options include tangy classic Ginger, herbal tea-based Lavender Peach and tangy Turmeric Sunrise. You can even purchase a do-it-yourself SCOBY kit to brew your own kombucha at home.
Colorful murals decorate the exterior of the cheerful marketplace and parking lot. The shop carries teas, organic trail mix, vegan blueberry muffins and handmade crafts.
Living Tea hosts a community pancake breakfast on the second Sunday of each month. Stop by for live music, buckwheat pancakes, organic coffee, kombucha tea and family fun.
Sport boat fishing Captain John Alvarez established Nautical Bean in 1994. The coffeehouse at Oceanside Harbor Village provides stunning panoramic harbor views. Kick back in the casual outdoor seating area. Listen to crashing ocean waves and take in the picturesque harbor scenery.
Alvarez developed his own line of Nightwatch Coffee. He serves the robust java at the Nautical Bean. Select from a variety of aromatic brews, smoothies, bagels, pastries and sandwiches.
Brothers Aris and Tio Lavranos share a passion for comics and craft coffee. They opened Panels in 2018. As Tio explains, “In our opinion, comics represent the best in both storytelling and art.” Wall to wall bookshelves packed with comics old and new surround the walls of the shop. Whether you’re a comic novice, nerd or only want an amazing cup of coffee, a visit to Panels won’t disappoint.
The Lavranos source coffee from San Diego’s award-winning Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Indulge in specialties like the iced Greek Frappé or steaming Coconut Brûlée Coffee. Select from an array of delectable local baked goods. Choices include Faye’s Cookies, Irish Cream Banana Bread and Doughside Vegan Donuts.
Panels stays open late the first Thursday of every month to host a “Drink and Draw” event. If you’re in town on Saturday, May 4th go to the annual Free Comic Day for complimentary books.
Located in a historic Victorian building on Pier View Way, the Pier View Coffee Co. allures customers to its breezy indoor-outdoor venue with laid back surf art, great coffee and food. Award-winning San Diego roaster Caffè Calabria supplies the beans for the large selection of coffee drinks prepared by amiable hip baristas.
Their super popular breakfast sandwiches come with egg, cheese, choice of protein and bread. Bagels and baked goods are made fresh daily. The menu also features sandwiches, salads and San Diego’s gourmet Vero Gelato. At Pier View you are invited to relax, people watch and catch soothing ocean breezes.
Find Revolution Roasters in the heart of the South O Shopping District. This spot attracts a hipster crowd to its indoor-outdoor establishment. A savvy illustrated wall menu shows the size of each beverage and type of drinkware used. The light, airy dining room provides plenty of seating encouraging work and conversation. A chic mural by renowned artist Geoff Gouveia adorns the outside of the building.
Revolution Roasters produces small batches of fresh coffee at its roastery in Leucadia. You can buy bags of light, medium and dark roasts to take home and enjoy. Choose the Smooth Operator blend for rich espresso or try the signature Giant’s Head organic blend for a smooth, easy drinking coffee.
The café makes all syrups from scratch in-house. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a yummy selection of pastries. Savor toasts served on Carlsbad’s Prager Brothers Organic Country bread. The popular Tomato and Burrata comes with burrata, heirloom tomato, pesto and balsamic reduction.
Skateboarding icon Tony Hawk’s son Riley became a skate pro himself. He partnered with fellow skate pro Shea Cooper and roaster Chris Balingit to open Steel Mill Coffee Company in February. The trio blends their love of skateboarding, music and motorcycles into their business. The clean modern, spectacular space on Mission attracts a hipster crowd. Check out skate photos, a custom chopper in back and a curated collection of vintage vinyl for sale.
Steel Mill serves artisan, small batch coffee from James Coffee Company out of San Diego. Savor pastries and snacks together with your handcrafted coffee. Be on the lookout! You may spot a legendary rock star drop by like Patti Smith or Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo.
If you’re looking for the quintessential neighborhood spot, head to The Cup on Wisconsin. Experience friendly service and scrumptious fare at this locally owned, laid-back spot. Grab a seat in the dog-friendly, breezy outdoor ocean view patio. Prefer inside? Cozy up to the bar. Relish the relaxed atmosphere and beachy artwork on the walls.
Expect exceptional coffee drinks. The Cup buys top-quality beans from San Diego’s Caffé Calabria. Are you in the mood for chocolate? Don’t miss the satisfying semisweet Mocha. Tasty food items include creamy Cheesy Toast and spicy Sriracha topped Avocado Tacos.
The Cup stays open from 6:30am-10pm. Come in the morning for a caffeine fix. Return in the afternoon/evening to chill over a glass of San Diego craft beer.
About the Author
Jolee Pink is an Oceanside-based writer, designer and artist. She runs the popular Eat Drink SD Facebook group and her Wabisabi Green lifestyle blog focuses on art, design, food and travel. For more information, please visit wabisabigreen.com.