132 South Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
90 North Coast Highway 101 #214, Encinitas
Encinitas roaster Lofty Coffee has extended its beach-town coffee boutique reach to Solana Beach, setting up a new shop two blocks from the coast on South Cedros Avenue, taking over the property formerly held by Zinc Café. The bar itself fills most of the shop’s limited indoor space — the real thrust of the place is 1200 square feet of patio, most of it openly facing the sidewalk on Cedros. It shares menu and design elements with Lofty’s four-year-old Pacific Coast Highway shop, as well as its neighboring roastery.
Lofty founder and owner Eric Myers says he learned the restaurant business from the bottom up and that he decided to pursue coffee because he’d long admired the way “a true coffeehouse can be so much more than just a business. It can be a place for the community to gather…and for some a place where they can get inspired.”
He picked Solana Beach for an expansion location based on the community he sees around the Cedros Design District, which he deems “quality driven” and in alignment with the “boutique coffee company” presentation he goes for with Lofty.
Matt Prior joined Lofty as head roaster last fall after a couple of years cooking at home on a sample roaster, where he says he enjoys experimenting with coffees and roasting profiles. For Lofty, he says his goals are more refined, particularly with Lofty’s Keeping It Classy espresso blend, which combines several Central and South American beans to keep a traditionally chocolaty profile while maintaining Lofty’s aim to serve current-crop coffees.
“I try to keep that profile very similar as seasons change,” Prior says. “We kind of want something that is accessible to everyone. A lot of specialty coffee will lean towards the acidic very bright flavors.” Lofty’s blend, he continues, “won’t put anyone off with underdeveloped or sour notes.”
At the new location, Lofty will offer three single-origins at a time as it does in its other shops, with recent options including Ethiopian, a Panama geisha, and Costa Rican honey coffee. The company is taking steps to move into direct trade as well, beginning with buying through brokers and cooperatives that maintain transparent trade agreements. This includes the Brazil network Bob-o-Link, purported to offer some of the top Arabica beans available from what is by far the world’s largest coffee-producing nation.
Lofty’s transparent, sustainable ethics seems to jibe within its beach community, part of why Prior calls the burgeoning North County coffee scene “pretty incredible.” He says the fashions may be a little different than seen in shops central to downtown, but the more casual styles belie a strong culture of coffee drinkers who appreciate quality beverages. “I think cafés embody the spirit of their community wherever they are. Being coastal gives it a different vibe. It’s a little bit different than that urban environment — people are in swimsuits and flip-flops.”