A Guide to Hillcrest Coffee Shops
Near and dear to the heart of the neighborhood, Better Buzz is one of the most aesthetically gifted coffee shops in Hillcrest, given its sleek, modern atmosphere, posh furnishings, cozy nooks and corners, upper mezzanine, touches of greenery, bookable conference room, gram-worthy brunch fare, and tantalizing aroma of gourmet java that’s been diligently roasted on-site. The attention to detail that has gone into designing this welcoming space with a delightful balance of charm and utility makes it an easy go-to for daytime meetings with colleagues, long overdue coffee dates, and solo study sessions.
Snuggled amongst the storefronts lining University Avenue, Lestat’s has a vibrant ambiance boasting an iconic six-foot sphynx at center stage, movie poster-adorned walls, palm trees here and there, an abundance of seating arrangements, later hours, accommodations for remote work, and a sidewalk patio where you can watch the surrounding night-life scene begin to heat up. The unique Egyptian decor serves as an accomplice to thoughtfully crafted, rewardingly delicious coffee beverages, hot breakfast sandwiches, personal pizzas, and a range of lite lunch options.
Snuggled at the base of a gorgeous residential building, HOB offers guests a polished setting accentuated by cement floors and walls, wooden tabletops, blue chairs, and great big windows that let the sunshine pour on through. In addition to single-origin, house-roasted java, the menu features award-winning avocado toast, crepes, acai bowls, salads, and a well-curated selection of craft beers and fine wines.
If you truly love and appreciate the art of java, search no further than Quiet Storm, which has been a center for coffee culture in the community for ten years and is passionate about intentionally roasting the world’s finest beans in-house. Furthermore, they have an enchanting lounge area complete with sophisticated vibes, a plant store, and an impressive collection of cigars to choose from (smoking outside only). Should you meander on in at the tail end of an exhaustive work day, feel free to take a load off with a crisp craft beer.
Instagram connoisseurs of cuteness ever on the prowl for all things pretty, allow us to introduce you to Oliver Coffea, a petite, hidden gem among Hillcrest coffee shops that can be found on the breezy corner of University Ave and Centre St. Their dreamy interior showcases warm earthy tones set against minimalistic white walls, chic furnishings, well-nurtured plants, plenty of natural sunlight, a countertop display case filled with scrumptious pastries, and brewing equipment hard at work, producing soul-stirring magic in a cup.
What this adorable drive-through and walk-up cottage may lack in size, it more than makes up for with wholesome hospitality, photogenic appeal, efficient service that’ll have you back on the road and headed toward your final destination in no time, refreshing seltzers, and last but certainly not least, delectable specialty drinks like the toasted marshmallow topped Campfire Latte and caramel hinted Amber’s Coffee.
Kona Coffee Co.
Kona coffee trees thrive on the rich volcanic soil and humid climate of Hawaii’s big island, it’s the one-of-a-kind tropical ecosystem there that produces java beans savored by coffee connoisseurs the world over. In a nod to the spirit and flavor of Hawaii, the team here proudly serves pure Kona coffee. Located across the street from Scripps Mercy Hospital, Kona Coffee Co. is an intimately sized tropical oasis with warm tones and several seating arrangements.
Nestled in the Mission Hills neighborhood, Heartwork carries thoughtfully sourced coffee beans, as well as maintains a tempting selection of loose-leaf teas, fresh baked goods (vegan options available), and coffee beverages enhanced by house-made syrups. The shop itself is quite quaint, with not much seating to speak of, so perhaps plan on grabbing and enjoying your immaculate morning delight elsewhere.
Whether you’d like to settle into a cozy corner and appreciate the company of loved ones over a steamy cup of house-roasted joe or take your coffee on a pleasant stroll through nearby Balboa Park – home to breathtaking works of Spanish colonial revival architecture, museums, gardens, grass fields, several theaters, and the city’s renowned zoo – whatever the case may be, James has got you covered.
Peet’s maintains a reliable work and gathering space that features plenty of tables to sit down at and stay awhile, there’s also a lovely outdoor terrace shaded by umbrellas. The founder, Alfred Peet, wasn’t trying to start a coffee revolution when he set up shop in Berkeley back in 1966. He just thought Americans deserved a real cup of coffee.
Five decades later, his lone store has since blossomed into 200, each holding true to his vision: sourcing directly from the world’s finest estates, hand roasting to order in small batches, and making sure every cup is brewed as fresh and full-flavored as possible.
If you enjoyed this guide to the best Hillcrest coffee shops, check out our list of the Top 20 Coffee Shops in San Diego County!
I do not claim to own any of the images used in this article, unless otherwise noted, they are sourced from each business’s Facebook page, website, or Google account.