Cafe Hounding: Caffe Calabria – San Diego

3933 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
www.caffecalabria.com

Caffe Calabria is one of a few hidden gem roasters in San Diego, CA.  Located in a unique section of town known to locals as North Park; it has the charm of an Italian espresso bar mixed with a ‘work-in-progress’ pizzeria and the edge of North Park mixed in for good measure.  The owner, Ernie, got his start manning a coffee cart at the local hospital.  Over time he developed a passion for roasting and has grown his business via carving out a niche serving the local restaurant and coffee shop market with his fresh roasted beans.

The Roast Master, Jesse, is a very cool operator with a keen sense of knowing when beans are ready to eject from the large industrial roasting machine they have in the back of the shop.  They have plenty of outlets, a rustic and open space, and a great – although limited selection – of sandwiches/paninis.

The “work-in-progress” has evolved into quite an attractive space over the past three years but has yet to reach the goal of an authentic pizzeria.  The most impressive piece within the restaurant is a pizza oven brought piece by piece from Italy and reassembled in the store.   Also, the art work is mostly done by local artists and the clientele is quite an eclectic mix of hipsters, students and locals (there is plenty of overlap between the three).  Before some of the sales staff left, there used to be free cuppings every morning at 8am – not sure if this is still firm policy.  According to store staff, the pizzeria should be opening very soon on Thursday and Friday evenings.  Unfortunately, many a café squatting afternoon was prematurely ended at Calabria – they close their doors to business at 3pm.

Their espresso is tops in San Diego, with only Bird Rock spending more time and effort in perfecting the pull.  Both the blend that Calabria uses and the training of their baristas is well above average for the specialty coffee world.  It’s well worth stopping by this location just to get a well made drink.  Calabria delivers some of the best quality roasted beans in San Diego AND has the well trained baristas to prepare top quality drinks too!

A portion of their beans are purchased from renowned importer, Elan Organic Coffee, now of the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe.  Calabria wholesales to many local coffee shops and other retailers such as Café Mono (Mission Beach), Whole Foods and Fresh & Easy in San Diego.  Check them out and tell them the Café Hounds sent you!

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