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Coffee vs. cupcakes on restaurant row

Popular dessert stop yields a surprising winner

Eye candy, but the coffee was the best thing on the table.
Eye candy, but the coffee was the best thing on the table.
Place

Heaven Sent Desserts

3001 University Avenue, San Diego

I'm not often a dessert guy, and will often walk right past Heaven Sent without a second thought about what kind of cakes might be on display within. However, I am a coffee guy, and will usually fall for a simple bait and switch. So, "meet for coffee" becomes "meet for coffee at a pure butter bakery." At which point, resistance is futile, and I'm getting a cupcake.

Many are familiar with the cakes, tarts, bread puddings, éclairs and other sugary delights of this shop on the southeast corner or North Park's liveliest intersection. Looking inside one of its counter cases will shake anyone's resolve, and even the most determined "no dessert for me" will turn into "let's just keep it to one if we can, then maybe take a couple home for later."

I managed to keep it to a Boston Cream cupcake, this time, lured in part by its ornamental chocolate crown and low price.

This counter case speaks for itself.

Less well known may be how good the coffee is at Heaven Sent, and one brew in particular: the Kyoto Cold Drip. At $3.50, it cost more than my cupcake, and I regret none of it.

Whereas my cupcake was presented on a refined ceramic plate with an attractive dusting of powdered chocolate and a caramel swoosh to match that chocolate crown, the $3.50 iced coffee came out in a cheap plastic disposable cup, with a straw.

But that's okay, all the fancy stuff took place behind the scenes. The so-called Kyoto cold drip process involves the type of equipment you might expect to see in a chemistry lab. Water slowly drips through tubes onto a bed of coarsely ground beans. A filter even spreads the drip out so it doesn't so much as trickle through the grounds as it does moisten them. The coffee is drawn down through more tubes into perfection.

It's incredibly slow — 8 hours or more — and yields a richly flavorful, brew with very low acidity. It's ideal for iced coffee, even in a plastic cup. In fact, this Fair Trade-certified coffee tasted good enough, black, to stand up to the extraordinary sweetness of my dessert.

No complaints about the Boston Cream, but butter and sugar don't leave a lot of room to appreciate the sort of nuance good coffee beans can deliver.

It's a pretty phenomenal iced coffee, and potent, so next time I probably won't order it at 8 p.m. on a weeknight. Instead, I'll embrace some sunny afternoon when caffeine sounds like the perfect excuse to allow a little sugar into my life.

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Eye candy, but the coffee was the best thing on the table.
Eye candy, but the coffee was the best thing on the table.
Place

Heaven Sent Desserts

3001 University Avenue, San Diego

I'm not often a dessert guy, and will often walk right past Heaven Sent without a second thought about what kind of cakes might be on display within. However, I am a coffee guy, and will usually fall for a simple bait and switch. So, "meet for coffee" becomes "meet for coffee at a pure butter bakery." At which point, resistance is futile, and I'm getting a cupcake.

Many are familiar with the cakes, tarts, bread puddings, éclairs and other sugary delights of this shop on the southeast corner or North Park's liveliest intersection. Looking inside one of its counter cases will shake anyone's resolve, and even the most determined "no dessert for me" will turn into "let's just keep it to one if we can, then maybe take a couple home for later."

I managed to keep it to a Boston Cream cupcake, this time, lured in part by its ornamental chocolate crown and low price.

This counter case speaks for itself.

Less well known may be how good the coffee is at Heaven Sent, and one brew in particular: the Kyoto Cold Drip. At $3.50, it cost more than my cupcake, and I regret none of it.

Whereas my cupcake was presented on a refined ceramic plate with an attractive dusting of powdered chocolate and a caramel swoosh to match that chocolate crown, the $3.50 iced coffee came out in a cheap plastic disposable cup, with a straw.

But that's okay, all the fancy stuff took place behind the scenes. The so-called Kyoto cold drip process involves the type of equipment you might expect to see in a chemistry lab. Water slowly drips through tubes onto a bed of coarsely ground beans. A filter even spreads the drip out so it doesn't so much as trickle through the grounds as it does moisten them. The coffee is drawn down through more tubes into perfection.

It's incredibly slow — 8 hours or more — and yields a richly flavorful, brew with very low acidity. It's ideal for iced coffee, even in a plastic cup. In fact, this Fair Trade-certified coffee tasted good enough, black, to stand up to the extraordinary sweetness of my dessert.

No complaints about the Boston Cream, but butter and sugar don't leave a lot of room to appreciate the sort of nuance good coffee beans can deliver.

It's a pretty phenomenal iced coffee, and potent, so next time I probably won't order it at 8 p.m. on a weeknight. Instead, I'll embrace some sunny afternoon when caffeine sounds like the perfect excuse to allow a little sugar into my life.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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