Coava Coffee may not be a household name, but in the world of specialty coffee, it’s always positioned at or near the top of any list ranking the best coffee roasters in Portland, Oregon. And Portland boasts one of the most revered coffee scenes in the country.
400 West Broadway, Downtown San Diego
To date, Coava has not opened a physical location outside of its home town. But that will change on September 8, when it brings a small coffee bar to West Broadway in downtown San Diego .
The 2000-square-foot retail location will sit at the base of the Westin Hotel, part of the cluster of hexagonal towers that look like Allen wrenches in the toolbox of San Diego’s skyline. Along with cold-brew options, its hot coffee offerings will stick to individual cups of pour-over and espresso drinks made to order — no batch brewing — using direct-trade beans cooked at Coava’s newly expanded Portland roasting facility.
“We consider ourselves to be a high-end purveyor,” said Coava founder Matt Higgins, who has developed contacts at origin with a host of international coffee farms to secure a unique assortment of green coffees. “Our core competency is sourcing and roasting.”
Higgins had worked for nine years in the coffee business as a roaster and barista — including a stint working alongside former Bird Rock Coffee head roaster Heather Brisson — before he started Coava in 2008. “I saved up all my tips and took the risk,” he recalled, initially roasting and selling beans out of his North Portland garage.
Asked why he chose San Diego to be his first expansion locale outside of Oregon, Higgins said that, after visiting a number of West Coast cities over the past two years, the developing coffee and established beer markets made him feel most at home. “The culture felt very similar to Portland,” he said. “The beverage scene in San Diego is amazing. I personally love it down there.”
He hinted that the 270 days of cloud cover in Portland has something to do with it, and that he hopes to check in on the climate surrounding the new shop often. “I’ll have to suffer through visiting,” he laughed.
Along with Coava-roasted beans, the shop’s offerings will include a proprietary pour-over method: a reusable metal filter specifically designed to complement the coffee grinder used in its shops, and allow more oils to pass through the filtering body than conventional paper filters.
905 J Street, East Village
240 Broadway, Downtown San Diego
While Higgins said Coava’s expansion doesn’t include a heavy push to wholesale in San Diego, the shop will join what has become a competitive downtown retail market. Pasadena’s Copa Vida coffee sits on J Street, and San Diego’s West Bean has a shop a few blocks east on Broadway.