This New City Heights Coffee Shop Is Also a Nonprofit

Hidden in an alley off El Cajon Boulevard, City Heights Coffee House isn’t just a new ping on San Diego’s craft coffee map. The alfresco café is a registered charity: All proceeds help provide jobs for, and foster relationships among, marginalized City Heights citizens.

"Sterling worked at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and had a passion to see coffee restore lives in a meaningful way," says David Tran, who cofounded the concept with his wife, Sterling Nicole, and Lonny Cheuk.

After raising over $15,000, they transformed a thrift store’s back parking lot with the help of City Heights Community Development Corporation and local volunteers. They hired their first employees—two former San Diego Juvenile Hall detainees—and created a menu reflecting the area’s diversity, with drinks like Mexican cafe de olla and Persian black tea. Up next? A brick-and-mortar shop in late 2017 or early 2018.

"Each cup is our call to a life of significance," says David. "People matter to us."

4323 El Cajon Boulevard, City Heights

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