The Bean Bar’s new, custom-built Spirit espresso machine
  • The Bean Bar’s new, custom-built Spirit espresso machine
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Speaking to local roasters and baristas, I keep hearing the same assessment: third-wave coffee in San Diego has lagged way behind the Bay Area and cities such as Austin, and (especially) Portland. But, they like to add, it’s starting to gather momentum. Evidence is mounting to support this. By the end of this year, no fewer than six new shops will have opened in the Centre City area alone, including a couple bringing the flavors out-of-town roasters to the area — and designer machinery.

First up is the Bean Bar, targeting October 11th as its opening date at 1068 K Street, directly between Petco Park and the Central Library. Partners Jason Serres and Sandra Scheller originally took an interest in specialty coffee while living in Portland and have delved into the San Diego scene since moving here two years ago. With the Bean Bar they’re seeking to create a nurturing space where “you can chat with your barista about your passion for coffee.”

The Bean Bar will feature beans from 49th Parallel, a well-established direct-trade roaster out of Vancouver, British Columbia, whose beans have been heretofore difficult to come by here. Along with pour-overs, Serres and Scheller are excited to feature what they say will be the first Spirit espresso machine in San Diego.

These custom-built devices, designed by Dutch industrial designer and motorcycle enthusiast Kees van der Westen, often adopt the stylings of a vintage roadster, with analog dials and manual controls. Serres says this “work of art” is designed to “produce some incredibly delicious espresso” in the hands of a skilled barista.

San Diego might not have to wait long for its second Spirit. Around the corner from Bean Bar, Los Angeles–based Copa Vida has plans to open a shop in late November /early December at 905 J St., adjacent to the Park at the Park at Petco.

In business for just over a year in Pasadena, Copa Vida’s owner Steve Chang decided to expand to San Diego due to the burgeoning coffee community here. The roaster plans to serve proprietary beans, as well as those of environmentally conscious North Carolina roaster Counter Culture, and Berkeley’s Supersonic, a new collective started by a number of craft-coffee veterans. And, like the Bean Bar, Copa Vida will also offer 49th Parallel selections. Also like the Bean Bar, it will serve pour-overs and espressos made on its own custom Kees van der Westen Spirit.

Until these shops and manual-espresso devices open, the Roast Coach continues to hold down third-wave coffee in East Village, serving mostly local beans from its pour-over cart on the front patio of Southpaw Social Club (815 J St.). The mobile cart is definitely not a permanent fixture — the Roast Coach that used to operate in North Park now sets up on the third floor terrace of the Wells Fargo building (401 B St.). However, owner Salpi Sleiman has no immediate plans to move and will see how well East Village can handle being a craft-coffee neighborhood.

Read more about Bean Bar, Copa Vida, and other coffee spots in the East Village coming to the East Village in Ed's recent Bean Bar early-look piece for Feast!, the Reader's reviews-and-news section! Coffee break? Take your time!

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