On the lookout for the BEST San Diego coffee shop? I scoured the city to find the BEST San Diego cafes that offer solid coffee AND an awesome atmosphere.
San Diego, the city of endless sunshine, does not disappoint when it comes to atmospheric coffee shops. From hipster to chic, lively to zen, there's a cafe to fit your style. The number of potential best coffee shops in San Diego was surprisingly large. Over several highly caffeinated visits to the Golden State, I managed to pick my TOP 5 (with a few runner-ups).
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The TOP San Diego Coffee Shop picks are...
1. Copa Vida - East Village (lower downtown)
The best San Diego coffee shop for sweet and savory bites
This San Diego Coffee shop is a place you could easily hang out at all day. Not only does Copa Vida offer some of the best coffee in San Diego, it also serves a full menu of delicious food offerings. Copa Vida goes beyond the usual muffin and croissant fare by offering more substantial menu items like hearty salads and croque-madame sandwiches.
There are two locations in the heart of downtown San Diego. Definitely choose the J street location in the East Village district (right next to the Gaslamp Quarter). It has a much better atmosphere than the location on Broadway. Both locations have large, open floor plans, plenty of tables, and floor to ceiling windows. The WiFi is reliable and the service is always friendly.
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2. Lofty Coffee co. - Little Italy
One of the best San Diego cafes to enjoy the patio and bring your dog
The indoor/outdoor concept and open patio scream sunny San Diego! The pastries in this bright San Diego coffee shop are made in-house and include both vegan and gluten-free options.
I especially like the organic acai bowl, croissants, and made from scatch cinnamon rolls with brown butter glaze frosting. The specialty salted caramel latte and NOLA iced coffee are my favorite drinks.
Lofty Coffee Co. is a great option if you want to bring your furry friend along since the patio is dog-friendly (ask for a doggie treat when you order). This is one my favorite San Diego cafes to visit when the weather is nice...which is almost always.
3. Genteel Coffee Co. - East Village (lower Downtown)
One of the best San Deigo cafes for a legit flat white paired with a zen atmosphere
Genteel Coffee Co. started as a six foot mobile espresso bar and upgraded to a full service coffee shop in 2018. The space is an old warehouse completely reimagined into an ultra-hipster cafe. The floor plan was left completely open. Tables and chairs are spaced throughout, greenery is thoughtfully hung from the high ceilings, and pop-up retail can be found along the side walls.
The space has a very zen yet industrial feel. This San Diego coffee shop is the perfect choice when you need to concentrate or have a quiet meeting. Free WiFi is available and the flat white is one of the best I've had in the city.
Genteel Coffee Co. is located in the downtown neighborhood called East Village. It's close proximity to Petco Park and the San Diego convention center makes for a convientent stop.
4. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters - LIttle Italy
Best San Diego Coffee Shop for Quality (and ethical) brews and beans
Like James Coffee Co., this shop roasts and sells its own beans and seems to be a hit with the locals. Many say it's one of the best San Diego coffee roasters. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters practices direct trade sourcing with its beans joining the new “farm-to-cup” trend.
The patio and bright indoor space with large open windows fit nicely with the seemingly always perfect San Diego weather. Try the honey and cinnamon latte. There's a decent amount of seating at this location which makes it perfect for working or studying.
5. CoaVA Coffee Roasters - Downtown (near Gaslamp District)
Best San Diego coffee shop for Nitro cold brew
Coava Coffee Roasters is located inside the Westin (don't worry, it has its own separate space and you won't even know you're connected to a hotel) and the first location to open outside of Portland, Oregon (where it has a cult following).
Coava focuses on single origin coffee beans and is known for their cold brew, nitro on tap (my favorite), and honey lattes. The interior is beautifully done filled with dark woods, black walls, concrete floors, and a touch of greenery. Coava is one of the few San Diego cafes that also offers beer and wine. There isn't a lot of seating, but if you're lucky enough to grab a seat you'll be rewarded with a great spot to work as it isn't too noisy.
JAMES COFFEE CO. - LITTLE ITALY
You can’t help but feel hipster when visiting this San Diego coffee shop and roasting facility. James Coffee Co. shares it’s space with several curated boutique shops in an open design and offers delicious brews from its own artisan roasted beans. This hipster cafe is right around the corner from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in LIttle Italy.
Spill the Beans Coffee and Bagels - Gaslamp District
Spill the Beans Coffee and Bagels is known for their made-from-scratch bagels with artisan butter and cream cheese spreads. Try their homemade nutella spread or the white truffle and parmesan spread on a poppyseed bagel. The One Trick Pony, shaken cold brew latte with house-made cinnamon infused simple syrup, is delicious. The nitro cold brew is a winner too. Don't visit this San Diego coffee shop if you are on a diet because these bagels and spreads are too good to turn down.