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12 Best Coffee Shops in San Diego, California

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If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s coffee. That’s why we’ve rounded up this list of the best coffee shops in San Diego.

Drinking a warm bittersweet cup in the morning or sipping on an iced coffee in the afternoon is undoubtedly something I look forward to every day. And if you don’t drink coffee, then you have definitely experienced the unique atmosphere of coffee shops that just keep you coming back, coffee lover or not.

We spent a week in San Diego recently and spent the entire time working remotely, which meant that we were on the hunt for the best San Diego coffee shop. Throughout this post, learn about our favorite pick and some other options!

Here are a few of the best coffee shops in San Diego that will add just the right amount of caffeine to your morning routine or San Diego vacation.

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Best Coffee Shops in San Diego

Top Pick: Meraki Cafe

📍Location: 1735 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 921161735 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

Two cups of coffee in to-go cups on a silver table in a cafe.

Meraki Cafe is easily at the top of our list of the best coffee shops in San Diego. It’s located in a quiet neighborhood, away from the hectic buzz of downtown, so you can enjoy your morning in peace.

The cafe’s demeanor is invitingly beachy without being right on the shore. People of all ages will be comfortable here to sit and drink, read, work, or chat (the cafe is stocked with outlets as well as coffee).

Not only that, it’s a one-stop shop for drinks and meals. Meraki Cafe has a full menu, from acai bowls and bagels to artisan sandwiches and hummus plates.

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S3 Coffee Bar

📍Location: 6225 Mission Gorge Rd., San Diego, CA 92120

If you think Starbucks has the best pink drink, then you haven’t tried S3 Coffee Bar.

This cafe is for the artisans because of the food and drinks you won’t want to finish because they look so good. If you want to see some impressive latte art, then S3 Coffee Bar is the place to go.

The airy, instagrammable atmosphere makes it the perfect place for a brunch meet-up with your friends. S3 Coffee Bar is the perfect location to add a few foodie photos to your feed.

Communal Coffee

📍Location: 2335 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104

Espresso drips into a small espresso cup.

Communal Coffee offers everything on its menu, from coffee to fresh flowers. Yep, you read that right.

Besides their high-end dishes and drinks, they also have a shop with coffee-making supplies, mugs, stationery, and even books. Coming to Communal Cafe is not just to get a good cup of coffee, but an experience where you’ll be inspired, maybe get some new home decor and bring home a few flowers.

You can also rent out a room for events at one of their three locations.

Better Buzz Coffee

📍Location: 801 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103

Better Buzz Coffee is another University Ave coffee shop in San Diego. In total, there are six locations scattered throughout the San Diego area, so if you just have to go again but are in a different part of the city, no worries. There’s probably another one near you.

Now what’s so great about this shop that would make you want to go twice? Well, it’s eclectic but warm atmosphere is attractive to any local or traveler wanting to start their day off right.

Their handcrafted drinks are delicious, and their sandwiches and toasts are mouthwatering! What more reason do you need to visit the best coffee shops in San Diego twice?

Zumbar Coffee & Tea

📍Location: 10920 Roselle St, San Diego, CA 92121

A barista puts a lid on a to-go cup of coffee.

Zumbar Coffee & Tea is named for the Spanish verb “zumbar”. This verb means to buzz, hum, or purr. Este café ha estado zumbando (the cafe has been buzzing) for the last 20 years and they’re not planning to stop anytime soon.

Located in Sorrento Valley, San Diego’s tech district, Zumbar Coffee & Tea supplies the scientists, engineers, and analysts in their area their morning fix, so the coffee shop has taken up a mission not just to provide their customers with good coffee, but also to help them learn the science of it.

Zumbar aims to find the best coffee-making techniques out there and be able to explain it to you. Zumbar Coffee & Tea is one of the best cafes in San Diego for the intellectual.

Copa Vida

📍Location: 905 J Street San Diego, CA 9210

One of my favorite things about Copa Vida, besides their coffee of course, is the description of their drinks on the menu. Ever wanted to try a tea that tastes “floral, muscat, light”?

Even with their drink descriptions, Copa Vida attempts to make you feel at home. Their menu choices of breakfast burritos and various toasts can’t help but remind you of a home-cooked meal.

This quiet cafe may be popular, but find a secluded corner, and it is one of the best coffee shops to study in San Diego.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

📍Location:  3260 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA, 92116

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters is a coffee house all about relationships. 

They began serving coffee 10 years ago and have been out-sourcing all over the world to get their coffee from smallholder farmers. Now they have multiple shops, one is even located in Koloa, Kaua’i.

This shop is perfect for all those looking to find coffee shops in San Diego that add a little edge to their morning routine.

Bing Haus

📍Location: 4425 Convoy St. Ste 216, San Diego, CA 92111

Mochi donuts in bright colors are lined up in a box.

Bing Haus has every kind of coffee you need for regular coffee shops, but they have so much more that makes it one of the best coffee shops in San Diego.

First, they sell rolled ice cream. With monthly specialty flavors.

Second, they have mochi doughnuts. They’re adorable. I promise you, you need one.

Third, they have shaved ice called bingsoo.

If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. Granted, Bing Haus is more of a desert coffee place than something you’d want for breakfast.

But who knows? If you want coffee and rolled ice cream for breakfast, I’m not one to judge.

Philz Coffee

📍Location: 8849 Villa La Jolla Dr #307, La Jolla, CA 92037

Located in La Jolla, one of the best small beach towns in California, Philz Coffee has been a staple to the Golden State for 20 years.

Philz has an extensive drink menu, including drinks called Ambrosia Coffee of God. Their food menu isn’t quite as large, but if you come in for a coffee and a pastry you won’t be disappointed.

This location also has plenty of outlets, so it’s one of the best cafes in San Diego to get some work done.

Lestat’s

📍Location: 1041 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116

Most of the coffee shops on our list close by 5 or 6 pm. Well, not Lestat’s. They are open from 8 am to midnight daily, so night owls, this coffee shop is for you.

Lestat’s has a couple of other locations in the area, but the one on University houses a 6-foot sphinx in the middle of the shop. Why go to Egypt when you can go to Lestat’s?

Lestat’s offers a full menu of gourmet coffee drinks and full dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

This is a great stop for dinner with friends and is one of the best coffee shops in San Diego for studying.

Scrimshaw Coffee

📍Location: 5542 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92115

A barista makes latte art on a cup of coffee.

Scrimshaw Coffee is a San Diego University favorite. Located just streets from the University, students frequent the cafe regularly.

Scrimshaw is a rare successful result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They began brewing coffee in 2020, using local beans and local ingredients to make their food. 

Scrimshaw’s slogan is “Let’s waste time together.” This is one of the best coffee places in San Diego due to its relaxing atmosphere. You won’t ever want to leave.

Hawthorn Coffee

📍Location: 3019 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116

Hawthorn Coffee is a father-son duo creation to give coffee lover’s the complete coffee experience. A place where everyone is comfortable with food and drinks that are to die for.

Well, I’d say they succeeded. With their elegant coffee and delectable dishes, they have easily become one of the best coffee shops in San Diego.

This modern take on the typical cafe has elevated the coffee game. It’s definitely a stop worth checking out.

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Final Thoughts: San Diego Coffee Shops

Cafes can be a social hub, an office, a safe space, or just a great place to sit down for a while when you’re exploring San Diego. We all need a place to relax and drink a good cup of coffee; maybe you’ll be able to find your new favorite place in San Diego.

Our list comprises the best coffee shops in San Diego, so you won’t be making a mistake by visiting a single place on the list. 

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