Growing up, coffee was coffee. Just this hot, bitter thing your aunt drank with her morning Pall Mall. To children’s delicate noses, each seemed in a battle for prime stink. But grown-ups loved it. It staved off night-before ghosts. It made us children seem quieter, and faster to find their shoes. It was the mute button for talkative bosses, and the only way to tackle a spreadsheet before 10am.
Now, of course, coffee is life. Particularly American life. Folgers is a dirty word. Sanka for nothing. Coffee has become a refined, multi-layered, nuanced experience for the new generation. Specialty coffees reign. According to the National Coffee Association, last year 59 percent of coffee consumed daily was classified as gourmet. It was the first time in the 67-year history of their annual report that more than half the coffee drank fell into the specialty category. And most of that is being driven by millennials, who consume 44 percent of coffee in the U.S.
So that’s led to a few local stars in the gourmet coffee biz. From old schoolers like Pannikin and spilling into roasters like Virtuoso, Dark Horse and Calabria. One of the longtime favorites and highest-rated coffee ventures in town is Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. It was started by San Diego native Chuck Patton when his wife bought him a special coffee roasting machine as a Christmas gift. Couple years later in 2006, he opened his shop in Bird Rock. He visited farmers, sourced sustainable beans, paid fair wages all through the supply chain. And it paid off. In 2016, his Kenya Guama Peaberry was named the best coffee of the year in the annual Coffee Review competition. And last year, he sold his company to Kansas-based, direct-trade PT’s Coffee Roasting Company. He’s known PT's owner, Jeff Taylor, for a decade. With both companies known for ethics and quality, you can bet the best-practices will remain as they now start their expansion in San Diego. Especially since Patton remained on board as head coffee buyer for both companies.
To that end, next week they open their first of many new San Diego locations in Del Mar. Located at 2212 Carmel Valley Road (right by the iconic Roberto’s on the way to Torrey Pines State Beach), it’s a modest 1,000 square-foot shop with a 1,000 square-foot patio overlooking the beach and the adjacent Los Penasquitos Creek. Expect more of the same quality, like their daily single-origin coffees, regular joes to go, plus their famed Geisha varietal (changes with market value, but around $11 a cup), a pour-over bar, and all kinds of fancy coffee machines (Slayer SteamX, BKON brewer, MOD pour-over system, etc.). Plus a mural by local artist and former Bird Rock employee, Jennifer Nicole Barber.
Enough of the talk. Please enjoy the first known photos of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters’ new era. Should open around the end of April.