A Guide to La Jolla Coffee Shops
Originally opened inside of a humble cottage at the Green Dragon Artist Colony, Pannikin Coffee & Tea has been a hallmark amongst the trendiest La Jolla coffee shops since 1968. Having relocated during the early 70s, their current location on Girard Avenue occupies what used to be a typical family home but is now the intricate trinket-filled, vibrant garden-laced steampunk cafe at the end of the world this community has come to love. From decorative tile tabletops to hand-carved gigantic chess pieces to all the atmospheric amenities any wistful tinkerer may desire, it’ll truly prove difficult to ever stumble across anything so purposefully, aesthetically, yet fortuitously assembled.
Bob Sinclair first started out selling passionately crafted coffee and teas from his own house, fast forward upwards of five decades, he and his wife, Gaye, currently own and operate four lively San Diego coffee shops under the Pannikin name. When it comes to fresh breakfast fare, they work with local vendors such as Rose Acres farm, Wildwood Flour, and Ebenhaezer Egg Ranch to produce an environmentally friendly farm to fork culinary experience.
A stroll along the coastal streets of La Jolla’s seaside village at some point gives way to a ritzy, honey gold neon “BUZZ” sign distinctively featured over hive-like cream-colored tiles. To all those Instagram connoisseurs of cuteness ever on the prowl for an immaculate photo backdrop accentuated by gilded edges, flamboyant geometric shapes, and the occasional tinge of rosy pink pretty, look no further as there may have never been a more glamorous cafe than Better Buzz Coffee. Don’t hesitate to try some signature favorites; their Mocha De Mexico is a divine amalgamation of espresso, Mexican chocolate, and steamed milk, on another hand, the artistically fitting Rose Water Latte is espresso, rose water, and steamed milk topped with creamy foam and dried rose petals.
Harboring the java talent that has set forth a tsunami of international acclaim, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters recently earned a once-in-a-lifetime Roaster of the Year award from Roast Magazine, consistently posts winning scores above 90 by Coffee Review, and always has a Q-Grader certified roaster on site. The La Jolla location is perfect for a cup on the go or when table seating is a must, not to mention, they have two sidewalk facing garage doors that open up and treat the cafe to smooth ocean breezes and sunny Southern California days. There are six Bird Rock cafe’s meaningfully placed throughout San Diego, aside from serving the highest quality coffee, each takes pride in providing a platform for local musicians and showcasing masterpieces brushed to magnificence by local artists.
Of all the La Jolla coffee shops, Brick & Bell is the first to open each morning, warming to life well before the crack of dawn as expert bakers are extracting scrumptious scones from their glowing ovens by 4:00 am. This tiny brick house near the seashore is a beloved local hangout due to its posh coffee bar, homey outdoor patio, and welcoming vibes. Beyond legendary mochas, they also offer fresh juices, fruit smoothies, Italian soda, and a breakfast menu riddled with mouthwatering sandwiches, but most importantly, do not leave before getting your hands on a baked goody!
Playful quotes seem to be at every turn, from “a little bird told me” on their storefront window to a hottest pink neon sign placed above tabletops reading “birds of a feather;” we’re tempted to guess the rest. Ethically sourced beans and house-made syrups weren’t enough to satisfy Parakeet Cafe’s holistic java philosophy, they take daily rejuvenation one step further by concocting exotic wellness lattes made with adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms, and alternative kinds of milk. Par for the course, their food is made with organic – locally grown when possible – ingredients that bring tasty nutritional value to a diverse array of health-conscious folks including vegans, vegetarians, and those requiring gluten-free dishes.
If enjoying yummy lattes on an upscale, palm-tree surrounded terrace that overlooks shimmering Pacific waves crashing against miles of pristine sandy beaches sounds like the preferred breakfast method to you, then Caroline’s Seaside Cafe is the place to be. Located a stone’s throw north of La Jolla cove, on the UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus, they serve healthy and creative California-style cuisine made from organic and sustainably sourced ingredients. A hot summer’s day may even lead you to throw a bathing suit on, your shoes off, and caution to the wind as you go for a dip into some irresistibly cool blue water.
Harry Rudolph moved from Brooklyn to Southern California not long after his dearest Dodgers, for whom he was once a batboy, headed west intent on establishing a new legacy in the golden state. Although his favorite baseball team called Los Angeles home, Harry preferred life in the jewel of California and opened up his very own diner-style coffee shop off Girard Avenue in 1960. He and his wife, Catherine, fostered a classic American atmosphere that conveyed the same nostalgia, neighborhood comfort, and friendliness that was found on so many street corners throughout the New York City boroughs they came from.
This heartwarming joint is a favorite among local and visiting celebrities, the late great Chargers linebacker Junior Seau frequently dined here, we can’t forget to add, golfing legend Phil Mickelson has been known to make an appearance every so often.
The husband and wife duo that operates Copa Vida originally began their entrepreneurial journey with a lone noodle shop, following the sale of their first business, they looked forward to bringing about a community-oriented cafe experience where everyone could feel welcome to gather. A peek inside the La Jolla location reveals just that: a creamy white, gold-accented coffee bar set in front of decadent honeycomb tile walls along with an ample array of comfortable seating arrangements – more pointedly, luxurious style meets cozily procured grace in a splendid crossover that devoted java farers and virtual, wifi-enabled operatives alike can appreciate.
When it comes to coffee, Copa Vida brilliantly partners with multiple roasters in an effort to consistently showcase a variety of flavors and tastes that are savored by a myriad of palettes daily.
Herringbone is most commonly revered for being a culinary bastion of excellence that offers inventive seafood amidst a dramatic atmosphere whilst taking up residence within a magically vintage 1930s-era warehouse. However, if a photogenically ritzy weekend brunch is on your mind, there’s no questioning a daytime retreat to this verdure-touched, romantically hanging light bulb-laden, rustic beachside oasis. Proceed with caution as it could very well be the buy one get one free Aperol spritz, $25 bottomless mimosas, or endless Rose that catches your eye before reaching the more caffeinated selections.
Conveniently situated on the seaside village’s bustling Prospect Street, Living Room Coffeehouse has been a gem among La Jolla coffee shops since the first store opened on Thanksgiving Day, 1991. Never intended to embody anything particularly fancy, the cafe serves its homey function as a perfect getaway for San Diego students or virtual laborers, considering they’ve got comfortable chesterfields and extended dining room tables dappled throughout each of the building’s two spacious floors.
If you enjoyed this guide to the best La Jolla coffee shops, be sure to check out our list of the Top 20 Coffee Shops in San Diego County!