Calling All Coffee Enthusiasts: One Of The Best Cups In San DiegoEat + Drink From farm to cup with Bird Rock Coffee
In San Diego’s Bird Rock neighborhood — with airy windows that welcome in the smells of the sea — rests the aptly named Bird Rock Coffee. Whether you’re a lover of cinnamon honey lattes or a bean aficionado who drinks it black, they’ve got you covered in all the best ways possible.
Known for offering both organic and fair trade coffee, Bird Rock takes their commitment to sustainability a step further with what they call cause coffee: wherein they support and create projects designed to benefit the communities that grow their beans. They build relationships with their farmers and are one of the only San Diego roasters that offer direct-trade coffee.
So, if you’re keen on nerding out about your morning cup of joe and even more excited when you know there’s a lot of heart and soul behind it — read on.
Like New Yorkers say about their pizza, “Coffee is all about the water,” brewer Jacob White tells us as he begins a pour over demonstration, “quality of water, quality of coffee, and your brewing device.”
In addition, he also mentions grinding your beans fresh and rinsing your filter before you add them.
He’s just won third place in the National Brewer’s Cup Competition in Seattle (a massive deal in the land of coffee) and is a celebrity as customers walk in, congratulating and high-fiving him on his recent victory.
Typical home brewers (like your good ol’ Mr. Coffee) don’t reach the 195 to 205 temperature that’s ideal for making coffee. As a result, the flavors of the beans don’t have the opportunity to truly shine.
Pour overs, however, like Jacob specializes in, allow for flexibility. They bring out beautiful notes like caramel, chocolate, flowers, and fruit. The first big pour of water fully saturates the coffee, and is then followed by a steady flow of water over the grinds. There’s a rhythmic art to it — and as Jacob says, there an importance in moving in the same pattern.
At the La Jolla location, Bird Rock’s pour-over bar is one of the first of its kind in San Diego. It features different coffees brewed via the Kalita and the Chemex with the metal Kone filter, and allows you to taste the complexity of the beans.
Public cuppings are offered every Friday morning at 10:30am, so you can learn all about the roast, grind, smell, suck, slurp and spit.
Here are a few highlights from their bean selection:
There’s the El Salvador: with its notes of red wine, fudge and a rich sweet cherry finish. It comes from Finca Kilimanjaro, located high on the slopes of the Santa Ana volcano, where the volcanic soil creates a micro-climate and a uniquely distinct flavor profile.
The French-Roast: buttery, mildly earthy and with a sweetness of brown sugar, carob and cocoa nibs.
And then, there’s the Colombia: with its notes of vanilla, macadamia, and cacao. It’s a coffee that was developed in collaboration with Portolo and Klatch. Bird Rock, along with its collaborators, hosted a competition with a simple yet incredible idea. The farmers were to produce a great coffee: the winning micro-lots would be awarded 1.8 million pesos in farm-improvement grants and the winning farms would receive a 1.5 million peso farm-grant.
What resulted, was a particular blend created from coffees of Narino, Huila, and Cauca and today, 5-10 cents per pound of the blend is dedicated to those growers.
From every piece of the process, Bird Rock takes pride and puts passion into what they do. They’ve been written up in everything from the New York Times to USA Today — so if you’ve yet to venture to one of their locations for an award-winning cup of coffee, give it a go.
The La Jolla location offers kind local vibes, a beach walk nearby, and a special window-filled and sun-saturated environment to sip and savor life in San Diego (and we’re eager to check out the Little Italy and Bay Park locations next).
For some lasting coffee wisdom, we turn to owner and passionate coffee enthusiast Jeff Taylor, who says of methodically and meticulously prepared coffee: “It becomes a ritual – and you have a great cup every morning.”