I find myself in Southern California, La Jolla and San Diego specifically, several times each year to escape the brutal Texas summer heat or random cold fronts in the winter. SoCal has moderate and pleasant weather pretty much year-round. Combine that with awesome restaurants, ocean views, and plenty of outdoor activities…you’ve got one ideal vacation destination. If you’re planning a trip to Southern California, there’s a good chance you’ll wind up in La Jolla. It makes for a perfect home base or easy side trip from nearby cities like San Diego and Del Mar. Once you reach this sunny coastal town you may find yourself wondering where to go for your daily caffeine fix. Well I have you covered there! I’ve visited the best coffee shops in La Jolla and narrowed the list down to the TOP 5.
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The BEST coffee shops in La Jolla
1. Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar
One of the best coffee shops in La Jolla for European style coffee and food items
Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar not only offers more than the usual coffee shop in terms of food and drink options, but everything is done with the utmost care. The coffee quality is outstanding and will please even the toughest critic. Smooth, balanced, and reminiscent to what you would taste in Europe. Elixir serves some of the best coffee in La Jolla. They use their own branded beans, called Screaming Goat, alongside Stumptown for their draft cold brew and nitro cold brew. A solid list of loose-leaf teas is available as well as kombucha.
Stop by for breakfast and enjoy an avocado toast, ham and cheese croissant sandwich, or a colorful acai bowl. Lunch options include a delicious turkey and cheese crepe, prosciutto flatbread, and veggie baguette sandwich. Elixir also makes for a wonderful after dinner dessert and wine stop. An assortment of gelato flavors, French macarons, beautiful pastries, and dessert crepes are standard menu items. Gluten free? That’s no problem here with gluten free toast, crepes, and bread!
The ambience is nice and quiet as it’s tucked back into an almost hidden courtyard. Seating is available both inside and outside. The patio area makes for a perfect place to work as it never gets too loud and the patio furniture is extremely comfortable. WiFi is also available and the service is always friendly. I think it’s pretty obvious this is one of my favorite coffee shops in La Jolla.
2. AT Coffee House
One of the best La Jolla coffee shops for "brews with a view"
AT Coffee House hasn’t even been open a year and it’s already making a name for itself. Located on Prospect Street, one of the main shopping and dining strips, it’s perfectly situated for a stop between gawking at the sea lions and wandering the main parts of town. The interior of this La Jolla coffee shop is small and cozy with large windows to watch the tourist stroll by. The side patio is calm and breezy with ocean views. The owner shares a passion between perfectly crafted coffees and cycling. You’ll notice a wall of bike jerseys he designed from his own photo collection from rides around the world.
Both the coffee and loose-leaf tea are organic. I especially liked that all the tea flavors can be made iced and are presented beautifully. The pastries are sourced locally, the chocolate scone was particularly good, and an assortment of wraps, quiches, and burritos are offered for a heartier appetite. There’s a good chance the owner, Andy, will be there so don’t be afraid to say hi and hear his story! Be sure to stop by AT Coffee House to enjoy a handcrafted drink made with passion and care at one of the BEST coffee shops in La Jolla.
3. Better Buzz Coffee
One of the best La Jolla coffee shops for specialty drinks, fun flavors, and coffee flavored soft-serve
Better Buzz is another brand new La Jolla Coffee shop. And I mean new as in we visited several times during opening weekend. This place was packed every time we stopped by and for good reason. At first glance I was a little hesitant to like this La Jolla coffee shop. It reminded me a bit of Starbucks with its wall of Better Buzz roasted beans for sale alongside branded t-shirts and drinkware. My apprehensions were unwarranted as every item we ordered was top notch! No bitter Starbucks brews here!
This is the perfect La Jolla coffee shop for when you have both coffee lovers that want a simple and traditional drink as well as those that love fun flavor combinations and options with a little more pizazz. Order under the “Purist” side of the menu for traditional drinks like flat whites, americanos, and cortados. Take a look under the “Coffee” side of the menu for flavor combinations like the Hazelnut Divinity made with white chocolate and hazelnut or the Iced Moroccan Spice made with espresso, spices, sugar, and vanilla bean. The kombucha and nitro cold brew on tap is excellent as is the “Best Drink Ever” soft-serve (a coffee vanilla flavor).
Other menu items at this La Jolla coffee shops include avocado toast, ice blended coffees, smoothies, sandwiches, acai and yogurt bowls.
The look is fresh and fun with a mix of pinks, whites, and blues. It’s a completely open concept, which is perfect for the sunny SoCal weather. You will find plenty of seating in the front patio, side patio, and the few communal tables inside.
4. Parakeet Cafe
One of the best coffee shops in La Jolla for "Instagrammable" latte art and MILLENNIAL menu favorites
Parakeet Cafe is as cute and as Instagrammable as can be. With a menu filled with photogenic items and a colorful atmosphere. You’ll find everything that has become popular with the Millennial generation including acai bowls, avocado toasts, overnight oats, gluten free matcha waffles, and quinoa mezze bowls. Looking for some serious latte art? Try the flat black made with activated charcoal, homemade lavender honey, and milk. If you’re a health nut, Parakeet Café needs to be on your list of La Jolla coffee shops to try. Alternative milks include almond, oat, and coconut. Add MCT, collagen, and adaptogens to any drink. Try the komucha or nitro matcha on draft or go for the colorful beet latte. Chances are if there's a drink trending on social media, Parakeet will probably offer it on their menu. There is also a scrumptious selection of gluten free cookies, scones, muffins, and loafs…the kind you would never know is gluten free. If you're looking for some healthy options this is one of the best coffee shops in La Jolla to visit!
5. Sugar and Scribe
The best La Jolla coffee shop for sweet treats
Even though Sugar and Scribe is more of a bakery and bistro, their solid coffee bar earns them a spot on the list of the best coffee shops in La Jolla. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters beans are used to provide quality lattes and espressos. Cold brew and nitro cold brew are available on tap and sourced by Bird Rock Coffee Roasters…which just happens to be on my list of the best coffee shops in San Diego.
If you’re looking to pair your morning brew with a sweet treat, this is your spot. Home to Food Network Champion Chef Maeve, Sugar and Scribe has a strong reputation in the bakery world and was voted the best bakery in 2017 by San Diego Magazine and La Jolla Village News. The petit fours are as beautiful as they are delicious, the bread selection is made in house daily, and the selection of cupcakes, cookies, scones, danishes, muffins and macarons make for a difficult choice when deciding what to pick.
Grab a table on the front patio or back dining room to order from the breakfast and lunch menu which serves a mixture of American and Irish classics. If you’re just looking for coffee and a treat, order what you want to-go from the bakery and coffee bar. Since Sugar and Scribe is a full-service restaurant, this really isn’t a place to just order a coffee and work on your laptop like the other coffee shops on this list.
In my personal opinion, any city worth visiting MUST have a solid coffee game and La Jolla is no exception. Each of these La Jolla coffee shops is a winner in both coffee and atmosphere and absolutely worth a visit. Try one of all five of my favorite coffee shops in La Jolla!
Are you a coffee shop addict? See my other coffee shop posts!
Are you a La Jolla native or visit often? Let me know your favorite coffee shops in La Jolla in the comments below!
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