Where: Mostra Coffee at 4S Commons Town Center, 10550 Craftsman Way, San Diego, CA 92127
Open: Monday-Saturday 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Sunday 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
What: Batch Brew Black Coffee – El Salvador Anny Ruth’s Yellow Honey Red Bourbon, Light Roast
Tasting Notes: dragonfruit, rosehips, vanilla bean
Price: $4.00 for a 12oz
What I’m listening to: Mad Lasso, “Missouri”
I pull into the parking lot early on a Friday. I intended to beat the morning rush. On my last visit to Mostra Coffee’s location in 4S Ranch, the line was out the door, wrapping around the fountain and filling the patio at Jamba Juice.
Today, luck is with me.
The iconic gold lettering on the door welcomes me into the 2020 Roaster of the Year’s second cafe. I follow the mermaid scale floor tiling around the beer taps, past the bagged whole bean coffee shelf to the counter, and look up at the menu.
The back wall is white subway tiles, and the cursive Mostra with the oversized flourish on the “M” reminds me of being inside Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York.
I’m a bit overwhelmed by the menu. There is a lot on offer at Mostra. I ask Allan, the Barista, for a black cup of coffee. “Whatever the batch brew is today,” I say.
“Actually, we have three,” he replies.
I’m a little shocked. I order a lot of batch brews. I don’t recall ever being told I had more than one option. Allan informs me they have a light, medium, and dark roast batch coffee so they can serve the flavor preference of whoever comes through the door. He recommends the light roast El Salvador Red Bourbon.
Sounds good to me, I think. “Sounds good to me,” I say.
Even though this coffee is from El Salvador, Mostra is known for featuring coffee from the Philippines. Founders Bev Magtanong and Jeylnn Malone were inspired to start the company during a mission trip there, and part of the company mission statement is to shine a “…light on a lesser-known coffee belt region while giving back to the community that inspired them….”
They’ve been doing a good job of focusing that light, not just on the Philippines as a coffee-growing region but also on San Diego as a premier coffee destination. In addition to their 2020 Roaster of the Year award, their Head Roaster, Nick Berardi, recently won the United States Roaster Championship in Boston and is heading to Italy later this year to compete in the World Championships.
I take my coffee out to the patio, which is quite lovely and comfortable. The sun reaches around palm trees and patio shades. The fountains create a soothing white noise. Through an oversized window, I can watch while a staffer preps some delicious-looking pastries. The space fills with couples holding hands, families navigating with strollers, and professionals pulling out laptops or meeting someone for a business meeting.
Also entering the scene is a younger gent in a Google hat, swim trunks, and flip-flops who gets loudly called out by his buddy for getting a free cup of hot water and then pulling a teabag from home out of his pocket. He attempts to defend himself.
He slaps his phone down on the picnic table. “I gotta save money. Check out my crypto account!” he exclaims. His friend laughs and informs him that is no excuse, and he better go back inside to tip the barista.
The best compliment I can give Mostra Coffee at 4S Ranch is that while people watching and enjoying my coffee — which is fruit-forward, very subtle, and easy to drink—I forget that I’m in a shopping center. At least I do until I look up and see a Bed, Bath & Beyond. I consider wandering over, but I’d like to get another cup of coffee. Besides, I got a big day, a pretty nice little Friday, actually. I don’t know. I just don’t know if I’ll have enough time.
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.