West Bean, the new face of specialty coffee downtown
240 Broadway, San Diego
Local coffee roasters have arrived downtown. The West Bean has been keeping regular hours at its new central Broadway location since soft opening in late January, serving a short roster of its own beans via cold brew, espresso, and Kalita Wave pour-overs (a deviation from the ubiquitous v60 cones). Batch-brewed drip is also on carafe because there’s a heavy volume of nine-to-fivers and Starbucks-type establishments in the vicinity. Busy professionals who don’t have time for slow coffee may appreciate expertly roasted single-origin beans, but instant-pour convenience may be a tough habit to break.
With five-plus years as a successful roaster and wholesaler, West Bean’s principal operations will remain at its Mission Gorge headquarters. However, this shop will serve as its first public face, one that should achieve greater visibility if construction ever finishes at Horton Plaza park across the street. Cofounder James Rauh says he and partners Andrew Karr and Paul Reizen consciously opened their first retail location in a less-hip location than, say, along 30th Street in North Park, which already features a half dozen (and counting) specialty coffee shops.
However, they did recognize the importance of contemporary design in third-wave coffee, and they enlisted the in-demand Basile Studio to put together a modern interior featuring mixed iron-and-wood motif, a huge LED-lit West Bean logo, and a long bench made from a bisected eucalyptus trunk.
2911 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
631 9th Avenue, San Diego
A half mile southeast, Coffee & Tea Collective launched its expansion to the East Village on February 16. As I reported in December, the North Park roaster shares this storefront with cold-press juice bar Juice Saves. The mixed space is divided down the middle by a long, slender communal bar, with wood grain elements on the coffee side courtesy of SideyardProject and Basile-designed metal honeycomb dominating the juice side. It’s interesting to note that even the stools on either side of that bar are different.
Still a soft open of sorts, some finishing touches need to go in before C&T offer pour-overs here. In the meantime, they’re serving espresso drinks, cold brew, and venturing into batch-brewing, with a Fetco drip machine designed to brew with pulses of water timed to emulate the pace of a barista. Despite the addition of batch-brewing, the clientele on this side of downtown definitely skews hipper than the West Bean location (read: fewer suits).
Meanwhile, the North Park coffee scene continues to grow, as one of those and-counting shops I mentioned along 30th officially opened on February 17. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters finally finished construction of their counter at Waypoint Public. These guys kept their design in-house, repurposing some materials leftover from Waypoint’s build-out, with eye-pleasing results. For those keeping track, neighborhood connoisseurs drinking local may now choose between Dark Horse, Coffee & Tea Collective, Caffé Calabria, Zumbar coffee served by Nomad Donuts and Café Moto at Influx.