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Cafe Elysa in Carlsbad. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Cafe Elysa in Carlsbad. Photo by Ryan Woldt
CarlsbadCitiesColumnsFood & WineRoast! San Diego

Bean Journal: Cafe Elysa (Carlsbad)

Where: Cafe Elysa, 3076 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Open: Mon-Fri 6:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. & Sat-Sun till 3 p.m. (Kitchen closes earlier)
What: Batch brewed San Diego Coffee Company Colombian Medium Roast
Tasting notes: Tastes like coffee
Find them at:
What I’m listening to: Darryl Hall & John Oates, “Private Eyes”*

We’re in the last weeks of summer. The beaches are packed. The streets are awash with interlopers getting the last of the salty sea and sunshine** before the doors of the classrooms open, and the population at the coast drops by half. Cafe Elysa is in the heart of the Village’s tourist district.

Look for the orange awning over the entrance or the giant pink octopus mural on the rear wall. It’s between two stoplights that cause the most extensive traffic backups in town. Still, Cafe Elysa seems to hide behind the shrubbery in its little private world. This may be the biggest compliment I can give. Cafe Elysa should be a tourist trap, but it isn’t. It has a local flair while maintaining a welcoming air.

The inside of the cafe is simple. A pair of registers split two display cases filled with delicious-looking quiche and pastry goods. It’s hard to notice anything else except that there are more than a few employees this morning. Notably, in an era of skeleton crews and QR-code menus, I’m greeted when I arrive, and a human takes my order.

I’m pleasantly surprised that the medium roast batch brew is a single-origin Colombia. I’m partial to coffees from Colombia and Guatemala. They also have a dark roast for those whose tastes trend traditional. They give me a discount for bringing my mug.

The inside is a workspace, so I move out onto the vast patio. Dozens of tables — some under the roof overhand and some under umbrellas are spaced around a pair of gas firepits. The tables span beyond the borders of the building, and there are more private tables around the corner. A group of older men telling tales has occupied the space around one of the fire pits. I’d venture this is a regular meeting spot for them.

Cafe Elysa in Carlsbad. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Cafe Elysa in Carlsbad. Photo by Ryan Woldt

I move the other way, where I have a view of the space. I see happy customers yawning in that casual, “I don’t have to be anywhere else” sort of way. Service runners bring out heaping plates of waffles, omelets, and brightly colored cups of fruit. More than coffee, Cafe Elysa is a breakfast and lunch spot. Although, I’d be more inclined to order breakfast all day based on the food passing me by.

The coffee is solid, better than your traditional diner cup. It pairs well with a cloudy morning. I sip away, listening to classic rock and trying to keep the dog from tangling his leash around the legs of my patio chair. It is a failing effort. We step out onto the sidewalk and return to the real world. A horn honks, and a pair of joggers pass, heading the wrong way in the bike lane.

“I should go back for another cup,” I think. I turn to look over my shoulder. The calmness I felt moments ago feels so far away, but I know all I have to do is step through the shrubbery. It’s tempting, but I take a deep breath, sip my coffee, and stroll toward the arched Carlsbad sign over the boulevard. “Onward into the day,” I think. Cafe Elysa will be here tomorrow.

Fresh fruit at Cafe Elysa in Carlsbad. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Fruit tarts at Cafe Elysa in Carlsbad. Photo by Ryan Woldt

*So many restaurants get down to Hall & Oates. Why is that? Is there some audio science that supports playing “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” to generate more sales?

**Speaking of sunshine… what’s the deal? Is summer over already? I wore a sweatshirt to the cafe this morning and had to grab a blanket to drink my nightcap on the porch last night!

Want to hear the stories of local coffee entrepreneurs or learn how to brew a better cup of coffee at home? Listen to the Coffee People and Coffee Smarter podcasts featuring lots of local coffee roasters like Crossings Coffee, Mostra Coffee, and Ignite Coffee Company. You can even stream the latest episodes on The Coast News!

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