Where: Bird Rock Coffee Roasters – Torrey Pines, 2212 Carmel Valley Rd, Del Mar, CA 92104
Open: Mon-Thurs 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Closed Christmas Day
What: Single-Origin Colombia Suyusama Program (batch brew)
Tasting Notes: Sugar cane, baked peach, plum
Price: $3.75 (batch brews range from $3.00-4.25
What I’m listening to: El Michels Affair, Piya Malik, “Khabi”
A salty, wet morning mist greets me as I walk up to the Bird Rock Coffee Roasters overlooking a calm Los Penasquitos Lagoon and the iconic cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve. I time my visit well and walk right up to the counter. There will be a line about a dozen deep, albeit a fast-moving one, for the next 45 minutes.
They offer a light roast single-origin batch brew from Colombia.* Yes, please. I’ve been on a bit of a Colombia coffee kick lately. The flavors balance neatly between sweet and bitter. The coffee is clean and open.
Employees do the “Barista Shuffle” — the smooth dance of the feet — as they reach around for a mug, pull an espresso, steam milk, or slide over to take an order.
To my right, a wall of coffee and branded merchandise fills an entire wall of shelves. To the left, indoor seating is available at the bar in the window and in a lounge area with a couch.
In the back, a separate seating area offers the illusion of privacy without wasting space or blocking out sight lines of the lagoon. A mural of a coffee plant extends floor to ceiling.
I find a seat outside at a two-person hightop near the door. The coffee is solid. It is a working-class cup of coffee with some round raisin sweetness and some sugared fruit that comes out near the end of the sip, more so after the coffee has had a chance to cool.
The clouds are lightly sprinkling, but I’m under an overhang. I’d stay here, but the line has gotten long enough to extend outside and wrap into my personal space giving me anxiety. Where are all these people coming from?
I never realized how much traffic came down this vein of blacktop, splitting La Jolla and Del Mar in two. Teslas and Porsches line the street. Trucks rumble by. Community members appear from around the building corner, having walked down from the townhomes in the hills behind the cafe. I relocate to a stool at the bar near the street, braving the light rain.
Between the stools, high tables, and lounge chairs under umbrellas, there is plenty of seating strategically arranged so everyone can view the ocean. Bird Rock Torrey Pines is open until 7:00 PM, and I bet this is a pretty sweet spot to watch the sunset while sipping a hot chocolate.
On the deck, other customers are part of the experience. Even with shoddy, early June weather, there are few empty seats. I relocate again to the next door patio in front of the new pizza-by-the-slice joint. I watch the busy hive of customer on-goings next door.
A parent shouts, “Why are you like this? Why are you like this?” Their kid momentarily examines a leaf on the ground before taking off after a lizard. “Why are you like this?” You can imagine the exclamation point.
I take the last of my coffee back to the car, but instead of leaving, I sit facing the coast. With each sip, my coffee seems to be more flavorful. The clouds are getting lighter, putting the cliffs in stark relief, and I contemplate the day’s possibilities.
*This Bird Rock Coffee scored 93-points from Coffee Review.
Highlights: The coffee, the deck, and the view.
Roast! San Diego is a new column by Ryan Woldt, host of the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast, which can be streamed at: TheCoastNews.com. Look for features on North County coffee shops, cafes, and coffee roasters.