Toast, with avocado, tomato, cheese, arugula, and balsamic vinegar
  • Toast, with avocado, tomato, cheese, arugula, and balsamic vinegar
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It’s a coffee roaster right across the street from a Starbucks. Too many apostrophes and a forgettable name will forever doom it to misspelled branding (including on at least one of its own signs). Furthermore, a lack of focused identity makes its business difficult to characterize. However, despite these challenges, a newly opened downtown shop called Coffee ‘N’ Talk shows promise.

Coffee 'N' Talk

1143 Sixth Ave, Downtown San Diego

For one thing, that lack of focus has its benefits. I showed up for breakfast and coffee, but before ordering anything I found myself eating ice cream. Specifically, tasting through sample spoonsful of Lappert’s Ice Cream, a Hawaiian-born local ice cream producer that will be familiar to residents of Poway. Coffee ‘N’ Talk serves a dozen tubs of the stuff, including interesting and (I can vouch) delicious flavor blends such as horchata and cajeta, mango ice cream plus mango sorbet, and ube macapuno (ube the purple tuber, and macapuno the soft, gelatinous coconut; both popular in the Philippines).

A coffee and croissant, with a wall of roses for background

A coffee and croissant, with a wall of roses for background

Point is, Coffee ‘N’ Talk serves awesome ice cream, and I will definitely be driving to Poway to try more from the source. But as the roasting equipment positioned in the back of the shop affirms, the coffee here is cooked in-house, and this being the a.m., I traded my tasting spoon for a cup.

One patio wall is decorated with colorful planters.

One patio wall is decorated with colorful planters.

I opted for a $4 pour-over, my usual order at roaster shops. It’s a decent cup of coffee, and should easily satisfy those crossing the street from that Starbucks. But there’s some way to go before it can match the high-quality beans and refined roasting practices exhibited by my favorite local coffee producers. This one fell just smidge below my snobby standards.

Half the shop in brick, half in reclaimed wood. Friendly to social media photography.

Half the shop in brick, half in reclaimed wood. Friendly to social media photography.

Fortunately, I wasn’t done ordering. In addition to omelets, sandwiches, and bagels, the place makes its own pastries, including an assortment of delicate looking croissants. A chocolate croissant called out to me, as they often do, but after that ice cream to start the day, I went for healthy spinach instead. Few may believe I made the right call in choosing greens over chocolate, but I stand by the decision. The moist, flaky pastry hit the mark.

Taking my food to the small patio space fronting the shop, it occurred to me the entire place is loaded with a hodgepodge of photo-friendly backdrops. One half of the dining room simply offers complementary shades of red brick. The other a motley patchwork of painted wood, mostly blues and pastels. Likewise, half the patio features hundreds of artificial roses dotting a wall of greenery with white, yellow, burgundy, and pink. On the other, small plants placed within wall-mounted crates offers a checkerboard of contrasting colors.

In other words, there’s endless encouragement to snap instagram photos here. Your followers might even think you ate breakfast at four different locations.

With so much photgenia on display, I did what came natural, and ordered toast. Not boring toast, served with butter and jam. The hipster variety, dressed with avocado and other toppings, in this case tomato slices, arugula, little balls of mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar ($8.99). Not bad, even if the cheese balls tended to roll off the top of my toast.

Social media might help market this place, but if this coffee-plus shop survives its competitive location at Sixth and B, I would credit the food. And not just the ice cream.

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