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Midway District becomes coffee-roasting hub

Find coffee that everyone wants to drink every day behind the Sports Arena

Coffee beans are tossed and heated by hot air in a fluid bed roaster at David’s Roasting.
Coffee beans are tossed and heated by hot air in a fluid bed roaster at David’s Roasting.
Place

Modern Times Lomaland Fermentorium

3725 Greenwood Street, San Diego

While not a huge coffee-drinking destination, the industrial district behind the Sports Arena in the Midway District has grown into a coffee-roasting hub. Modern Times opened its brewery there three years ago with small-batch roasting equipment, which it’s since upgraded to keep up with constant demand for the brand’s roaster of coffee beers, its onsite café, and its packaged cold brew. In November, Modern Times released Ethiopia Sidama Werka — the first single-origin cold-brew coffee sold in cans.

Place

Swell Coffee Co.

3515 Hancock Street, San Diego

Just up the road, Swell Coffee Co. moved its roasting operations here in 2015. The company — which started out tucked into a back corner of Mission Beach’s Swell Café — now boasts a 2287-square-foot production facility, as part of the Patio restaurant group.

Sales & logistics manager Mondo Rodriguez notes the move included a roaster upgrade allowing head roaster John Hermann to increase from 5-pound batches to 30 and 40 pounds at a time. The addition of several dedicated 95-gallon tanks has given a boost to its cold-brew program, which includes providing coffee for beer collaborations with a slew of local breweries including AleSmith, Pizza Port, and Point Loma neighbors Bay City Brewing.

Place

David's Roasting

3990 Hicock Street #A-1, San Diego

A block from Swell, an inconspicuous third roaster in the neighborhood roasts only a couple pounds at a time and, for now, plans to keep it that way. David’s Roasting doesn’t have any retail storefront, only a 400-square-foot office and roasting space — the smallest commercial space David and Alena Leyton could find to lease.

Content to let the brand develop slowly while their children finish high school, the husband-and-wife team set up in Point Loma three years back. David — a full-time audio engineer — says rather than catching on to the third-wave coffee movement, they modeled their business after San Francisco’s Graffeo Coffee Roasting, which dates back to 1935.

“They came up with their own proprietary blend of coffee,” Leyton says of Graffeo, “and their target market was commercial.... This was obviously long before the current state of hipster coffee, where you have all these single-origins.”

So, rather than $17–$20 per-pound single-origins, David’s Roasting offers only a $14 signature blend, offered as a “darker” or “lighter” roast. “This was as much about creating a unique flavor that is our signature as it was coming up with the pound of coffee that everyone wants to drink every day and can afford to drink every day.”

One reason David’s sticks to small batches is its use of a fluid bed roaster. Unique among San Diego roasters, it cooks beans inside a glass tube on a pressurized bed of heated air. Leyton notes the constant motion and lack of a direct heating element result in more even roasts than traditional drum roasters, but gravity limits the amount of beans it can handle. Which is fine for the Leytons: the tiny business roasts every batch to order.

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Coffee beans are tossed and heated by hot air in a fluid bed roaster at David’s Roasting.
Coffee beans are tossed and heated by hot air in a fluid bed roaster at David’s Roasting.
Place

Modern Times Lomaland Fermentorium

3725 Greenwood Street, San Diego

While not a huge coffee-drinking destination, the industrial district behind the Sports Arena in the Midway District has grown into a coffee-roasting hub. Modern Times opened its brewery there three years ago with small-batch roasting equipment, which it’s since upgraded to keep up with constant demand for the brand’s roaster of coffee beers, its onsite café, and its packaged cold brew. In November, Modern Times released Ethiopia Sidama Werka — the first single-origin cold-brew coffee sold in cans.

Place

Swell Coffee Co.

3515 Hancock Street, San Diego

Just up the road, Swell Coffee Co. moved its roasting operations here in 2015. The company — which started out tucked into a back corner of Mission Beach’s Swell Café — now boasts a 2287-square-foot production facility, as part of the Patio restaurant group.

Sales & logistics manager Mondo Rodriguez notes the move included a roaster upgrade allowing head roaster John Hermann to increase from 5-pound batches to 30 and 40 pounds at a time. The addition of several dedicated 95-gallon tanks has given a boost to its cold-brew program, which includes providing coffee for beer collaborations with a slew of local breweries including AleSmith, Pizza Port, and Point Loma neighbors Bay City Brewing.

Place

David's Roasting

3990 Hicock Street #A-1, San Diego

A block from Swell, an inconspicuous third roaster in the neighborhood roasts only a couple pounds at a time and, for now, plans to keep it that way. David’s Roasting doesn’t have any retail storefront, only a 400-square-foot office and roasting space — the smallest commercial space David and Alena Leyton could find to lease.

Content to let the brand develop slowly while their children finish high school, the husband-and-wife team set up in Point Loma three years back. David — a full-time audio engineer — says rather than catching on to the third-wave coffee movement, they modeled their business after San Francisco’s Graffeo Coffee Roasting, which dates back to 1935.

“They came up with their own proprietary blend of coffee,” Leyton says of Graffeo, “and their target market was commercial.... This was obviously long before the current state of hipster coffee, where you have all these single-origins.”

So, rather than $17–$20 per-pound single-origins, David’s Roasting offers only a $14 signature blend, offered as a “darker” or “lighter” roast. “This was as much about creating a unique flavor that is our signature as it was coming up with the pound of coffee that everyone wants to drink every day and can afford to drink every day.”

One reason David’s sticks to small batches is its use of a fluid bed roaster. Unique among San Diego roasters, it cooks beans inside a glass tube on a pressurized bed of heated air. Leyton notes the constant motion and lack of a direct heating element result in more even roasts than traditional drum roasters, but gravity limits the amount of beans it can handle. Which is fine for the Leytons: the tiny business roasts every batch to order.

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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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