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Photogenic, but still comfortable

North Park's new coffee shop has it both ways

An apple bowl and tricolor coffee drink for those who photograph what they eat
An apple bowl and tricolor coffee drink for those who photograph what they eat

In the food item as bowl domain, few have impressed me so much as the caramel apple dessert offered by the new North Park coffee shop, Deja Brew Lounge.

Place

Deja Brew Lounge

2528 University Ave, San Diego

Situated in a converted craftsman bungalow on University Avenue, the new café finds sort of a middle ground between the austere photo-charisma of contemporary third-wave coffee shops, and the parlor comfort of 90s-era coffeehouses, which have become endangered species in recent years (RIP Rebecca’s and Clare de Lune).

"Good vibes" and "no bad days" around the holiday-friendly fireplace of Deja Brew Lounge

Deja Brew reads perfectly instagrammable, with every corner composed in perfectly arranged scenes suitable for snaps of that So Cal lifestyle so envied by the folks back home. Yet, even as light backgrounds show off well-placed planters, artwork, and eclectic objects, laptop-functional tables and chairs give way to the odd sofa or day bed, outfitted with fur-trim lap blankets and other loungeworthy amenities. With the holidays ahead, the owners of the shop have even ornamented Christmas trees and hung stockings over the white brick fireplace. The fact it’s entirely dog friendly meant my pup could cozy up at my feet as I settled in to a low futon to await my coffee drink and dessert.

Formerly a salon, Deja Brew Lounge sits within a converted bungalow.

The photo-friendly design seems to have crept into the menu. From a slew of coffee beverages with self-explanatory names such as nutella banana, strawberries & cream, and peanut butter cup, I went for the white aloha ($4.50/$.95 large). Available hot or iced, this features white chocolate and hazelnut flavors in a double shot espresso and milk (or almond, soy, coconut milk alternatives). Served in a clear cup, I embraced the tricolor appeal of the cold version: hazelnut sinks to the bottom, lending a chocolate shade to the lower third of the milky beverage, while a late addition of butterfly pea tea colors the top third blue.

Secretly, I would have preferred hot coffee or something off Deja Brew’s matcha menu, but I wanted that photo opp. Fortunately, one of the owners suggested she could reduce the high levels of sweetness swirling in the white aloha, to better suit my personal, black-coffee-is-best palate. She nailed it, and the drink tasted as good as it looked.

Naturally, I ordered food based on appearance as well. In addition to baking its own pastries, Deja Brew features soft serve ice cream, flavored with a bevy of sauces and toppings. Yes, you may get a cone, but the caramel apple looked much more fun. Served in a hollowed-out granny smith, the soft serve is drizzled with caramel, topped by granola, chocolate, and toffee crumbles, and further prettied up with cookie straws and a flower.

That’s not to say the whole dish was designed around its looks though. As I started scraping into the bottom of the apple “bowl,” I found a welcome surprise waiting there: a second layer of toppings!

This wasn’t a sunny afternoon, but despite the fact I sat next to an open roll-up door on a cool day, eating ice cream and drinking iced coffee, I gotta say, I find myself warming up to Deja Brew.

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An apple bowl and tricolor coffee drink for those who photograph what they eat
An apple bowl and tricolor coffee drink for those who photograph what they eat

In the food item as bowl domain, few have impressed me so much as the caramel apple dessert offered by the new North Park coffee shop, Deja Brew Lounge.

Place

Deja Brew Lounge

2528 University Ave, San Diego

Situated in a converted craftsman bungalow on University Avenue, the new café finds sort of a middle ground between the austere photo-charisma of contemporary third-wave coffee shops, and the parlor comfort of 90s-era coffeehouses, which have become endangered species in recent years (RIP Rebecca’s and Clare de Lune).

"Good vibes" and "no bad days" around the holiday-friendly fireplace of Deja Brew Lounge

Deja Brew reads perfectly instagrammable, with every corner composed in perfectly arranged scenes suitable for snaps of that So Cal lifestyle so envied by the folks back home. Yet, even as light backgrounds show off well-placed planters, artwork, and eclectic objects, laptop-functional tables and chairs give way to the odd sofa or day bed, outfitted with fur-trim lap blankets and other loungeworthy amenities. With the holidays ahead, the owners of the shop have even ornamented Christmas trees and hung stockings over the white brick fireplace. The fact it’s entirely dog friendly meant my pup could cozy up at my feet as I settled in to a low futon to await my coffee drink and dessert.

Formerly a salon, Deja Brew Lounge sits within a converted bungalow.

The photo-friendly design seems to have crept into the menu. From a slew of coffee beverages with self-explanatory names such as nutella banana, strawberries & cream, and peanut butter cup, I went for the white aloha ($4.50/$.95 large). Available hot or iced, this features white chocolate and hazelnut flavors in a double shot espresso and milk (or almond, soy, coconut milk alternatives). Served in a clear cup, I embraced the tricolor appeal of the cold version: hazelnut sinks to the bottom, lending a chocolate shade to the lower third of the milky beverage, while a late addition of butterfly pea tea colors the top third blue.

Secretly, I would have preferred hot coffee or something off Deja Brew’s matcha menu, but I wanted that photo opp. Fortunately, one of the owners suggested she could reduce the high levels of sweetness swirling in the white aloha, to better suit my personal, black-coffee-is-best palate. She nailed it, and the drink tasted as good as it looked.

Naturally, I ordered food based on appearance as well. In addition to baking its own pastries, Deja Brew features soft serve ice cream, flavored with a bevy of sauces and toppings. Yes, you may get a cone, but the caramel apple looked much more fun. Served in a hollowed-out granny smith, the soft serve is drizzled with caramel, topped by granola, chocolate, and toffee crumbles, and further prettied up with cookie straws and a flower.

That’s not to say the whole dish was designed around its looks though. As I started scraping into the bottom of the apple “bowl,” I found a welcome surprise waiting there: a second layer of toppings!

This wasn’t a sunny afternoon, but despite the fact I sat next to an open roll-up door on a cool day, eating ice cream and drinking iced coffee, I gotta say, I find myself warming up to Deja Brew.

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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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