Coffee Culture Brewing in Carlsbad

September 22, 2021

When the pandemic forced lockdowns and remote work everywhere, the occasional coffee shop run was a brief reprieve in the lives of many isolated Carlsbad residents. An opportunity to break away from the house, hop in the car, and interact with someone — albeit distanced — helped many customers keep their sanity last year.

And as coffee shops reopened their patios, people were eager to continue their remote work outside of the confines of their home. While the restaurant and dining industry was hit hard during the pandemic, coffee houses across the country experienced an uptick in visitors comparatively. With the ability to offer comfortable coworking spaces, free WiFi, and the safety of a patio — many coffee shops were a safe haven for customers during the pandemic and their popularity continues to grow even as people head back into the office.

Lofty Coffee, Carlsbad Village’s newest coffee shop

Carlsbad’s coffee community was abuzz pre-pandemic, boasting 16 local coffee shops clustered in or around the Carlsbad Village. Now that all have reopened and welcomed guests back into their shops. Here’s how they’re holding up.

“The coffee shops in the Carlsbad Village provided a real service during the pandemic,” said Christine Davis, executive director of the Carlsbad Village Association.“I don’t know what I would have done without them, and I know a lot of other Carlsbad customers feel that way. Being able to go, work, chat, and just be outdoors after being cooped up made a huge difference for me.”

Carlsbad coffee shops are popular coworking spaces for many in the business community, offering a neutral but peaceful setting to network, conduct meetings, and catch up. Davis said the Carlsbad coffee shop owners and managers were more than happy to accommodate customers who relied on them to get office work done.

Remote workers at Steady State Roasting. Photo credit: Steady State Roasting

“They never wanted anyone to have to leave early,” she said. “Our coffee house owners went the extra mile to make their indoor and outdoor spaces comfortable and functional for people who were going to be working there all day.”

Carlsbad coffee shops are now chock full of out-of-office workers. “It’s uncommon to go to one of the coffee shops and not see someone working on their computer,” Davis said.

Although Carlsbad’s local coffee shops are within close proximity of each other, the community spirit among them makes them closer to comrades than competition. One of the Village’s popular coffee shops is Baba Coffee, a charming hub that specializes in small batch Italian roasts. 

Baba Coffee is named after a 16th Century coffee bean smuggler named Baba Budan. Photo credit: Visit Carlsbad

“We love the Carlsbad Village and our loyal customers and regulars,” said Baba Coffee co-founder and owner Robert Pastor. The Village is always full of people and activity. We just celebrated our five year anniversary at our Carlsbad Village location and we wouldn’t have been able to make it through the last year without the support of our Carlsbad customers.”

It’s not just the coffee shops enriching the Carlsbad community, but the specialty roasters too. Carlsbad is home to Steady State Roasting, Sleeping Tiger Coffees, and more. The Carlsbad Village’s other coffee shops include Cafe Ground Up, Carlsbad Danish Bakery, Chocolate Bar, Daily News Cafe, French Corner Cafe, The Goods, Naked Cafe, Shorehouse Kitchen, Succulent Cafe, and Vinaka Cafe

“People used to say that San Diego couldn’t keep up with Silicon Valley because it lacked community meeting spots for entrepreneurs and tech workers,” said Matt Sanford, Economic Development Manager for the City of Carlsbad. “But in the Carlsbad Village alone, there are now 16 coffee shops — as well as other amenities — that are changing that perception. No matter the coffee shop you’re at, the chances are there is someone there working away on their laptop. These coffee houses aren’t just providing a great resident resource, but a locale for clandestine business encounters too.”