Where: Barefoot Coffee Roasters, 439 S. Cedros Ave #204, Solana Beach, CA 92075
Open: Sun to Thurs, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fri to Sat, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: Batch Brew Cerberus Dark Roast
Tasting notes: Dark chocolate, caramel, roasted nuts
What I’m listening to: Kid Kudi ft. Ty Dolla Sign, “Willing to Trust”
I don’t get to Solana Beach that often anymore. I don’t have friends or family there, and it is just far enough that the fear of getting stuck on the 5 is real and visceral.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I haven’t been going to live music shows. That means no visits to my favorite music venue nor the accompanying cocktails and dinner on Cedros street beforehand.
I only share these details of my personal travels to help explain why I hadn’t realized that Solana Beach has had such an influx of craft coffee.
Within a five-minute walk, you can visit Lofty Coffee Roasters, Barefoot Coffee Roasters, Achilles Coffee, and Café LaTerre. There is a Lofty near me, and my affinity for CLT is already well-known. On a recent morning, I made it my mission to cruise into SB to visit Barefoot and Achilles.
The Solana Beach location is Barefoot’s second location. The first is up in the South Bay and has been around since ’03. I pull up and park—plenty of street parking on the south end of Cedros Ave.
I see the name above the door and am briefly disheartened. I don’t see a patio, and I like to drink my coffee outside. I say briefly because a huge patio leads into the cafe through an open sliding door that takes up an entire wall. I just couldn’t see it behind the greenery. This place is huge.
I go inside and immediately notice the taps behind the coffee bar. Beer and wine license, very nice. Somewhat hidden behind the coffee grinders are a collective of baristas who take my order. I’ve heard from plenty of coffee shops that staffing has been tough, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
The greeting is warm, friendly, and offered without the metallic cynicism of faux-hospitality niceness. The barista asks me about the book I’m carrying. I think the pandemic was good for books. No one ever asked what I was reading before we were forced into solitude for extended periods.
Now, seemingly everyone is in a book club or has an opinion about the words I’m reading. Another barista pops into our conversation to chat about books, and another just smiles and slides a mug of Cerberus, the day’s house brew, across the counter to me.
Cerberus is the shop’s “darkest, fiercest roast.” It isn’t what I would have ordered had I been paying attention. A wave of bias against dark roasts rolls over me. I generally lean towards a medium roast, but I’ve been gifted a happy accident this morning. I really love this coffee.
It is rich and deep, and I can taste each of the tasting notes — dark chocolate, caramel, and roasted nuts—in their finest form. In Greek mythology, the Cerberus is the multi-headed Hound of Hades blocking the dead from passing back the gate from the underworld into the land of the living.
I take my coffee and head for the doorway, but a notepad leaning against the wall at eye level catches my eye — a Grateful Peoples “I Am Grateful For” notebook.
Inside it is filled with handwritten comments from past guests about what they are grateful for in the moment they were standing where I am now. There have been so many entries in the two years since BCR opened that it has spanned into a second journal.
Scrolling through it, a familiar albeit not immediately recognizable feeling pulses through me. I scan the Rolodex of emotions most humans have—I mean…that I also have—until I find it. It’s hope.
Long pause. It’s been a long few years. Hope is what I feel reading through this journal and being surprised by the quality of a cup of coffee. I’m not sure it is realistic that a visit to a coffee shop can feel like a turning point. Still, after several years wound tightly on the defensive, this feels like a release.
The patio is about half full. The shaded spots were taken by early morning remote workers with laptops. The lounge chairs and picnic tables with dog walkers and a few obvious tourists fill in around the outdoor fire pit table. The crowd skews older, as does Solana Beach. The average resident is 28% older than that of the state of California.
I sip on my coffee, peruse the huge food menu (also huge) and consider the trajectory my day will go. Based on the beginning, it’s headed up.
Pro-tip #1: If you start your coffee walkabout at Barefoot, you can finish where you started with lunch and a glass of wine, hard seltzer, or beer!
Pro-tip #2: The food menu features breakfast staples—toast, bagels, baked pastries—and also offers sandwiches, salads, and appetizers, not to mention locally-famous Cardiff Crack™ tri-tip sandwiches and tacos.
Check back next week for a recap of my Roast! West Coast experience at Achilles Coffee just over the coastal highway and walking distance from Barefoot Coffee Roasters.
Want more coffee content? Listen to the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast on Spotify. Follow @RoastWestCoast and @barefootcoffee on Instagram.