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A sign points to Captain's Grounds Coffee in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt
A sign points to Captain's Grounds Coffee in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt
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Bean Journal: Captain’s Grounds Coffee

Where: Captain’s Grounds Coffee, 1832 S. Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
Open: Daily 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily
What: Hot Matcha Latte with Honey
Price: $4.25 for a 12oz
What I’m listening to: Daisy the Great & AJR, “Record Player”

I’m always surprised to see two coffee shops in the same building. Captain’s Grounds was there first, and that’s important, I think, to some long-time Oceansiders. When I ask the barista about it, she merely shrugs. “It happens,” she says. I get the impression she doesn’t much concern herself with the goings on next door, so neither do I.

I do order a hot matcha latte with whole milk. Their matcha is unsweetened, so when offered a dab of honey, I agree. I’m not big on sweeteners in my coffee shop drinks, but on the rare occasion I add anything, it is always honey.

Captain's Grounds Coffee offers sidewalk seating. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Captain’s Grounds Coffee offers sidewalk seating. Photo by Ryan Woldt

I couldn’t tell you now why I ordered a matcha latte instead of my normal black drip. Perhaps I was inspired by the hipness of South O or the view of Captain’s Helm through the walk-up window. The clothing and accessories shop that houses Captain’s Grounds has a new vintage vibe. They expertly mix and match new brands with resale denim, flannel, and trucker caps.

Captain’s Grounds takes up more space inside with a row of two-person booths and a coffee bar with tall stools. Most of the seats are filled with customers tapping on laptops or snacking on acai bowls today.

My matcha came in a takeaway cup, even though I said I’d drink it there. I’m only surprised because there is a shelf filled with branded coffee mugs behind the bar, presumably for sale. It’s a vibrant green drink, which makes me happy. I sit out under an umbrella, resting my elbow on the thick wooden rail that acts as both a coffee table and protection from the sidewalk.

Even now, well after the morning happy hour, the people-watching in South Oceanside is second to none. You can see surfers wandering around anywhere, but here you see them intermingling with rockstars and apathetic grunge artists and corporate millennials and grizzled neighbors who don’t consider most of new Oceanside to be local. They’ve seen more change on these streets than most neighborhoods experience in a lifetime, and they’ll happily tell you how it used to be.

As an added bonus to the day’s sipping experience, there are a slew of classic cars cruising the Pacific Coast Highway. My favorite is a pale green lowrider truck with white-wall wheels and a sparkling roof of deep green that reminds me of the old motorcycle tanks on a kid’s ride at a rural county fair. Perhaps I enjoy it because it reminds me of my latte.

Captain's Grounds Coffee in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Captain’s Grounds Coffee in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt

The breeze is light but enough to cut the heat of the autumn sun. My matcha latte is earthy and sweet. It is a nice blend of dairy, matcha, and honey. The barista has some skills! It disappears while I sit enjoying the day. The patio in front of Captain’s Grounds feels like a natural blend of an older, grittier Oceanside and the new South O that demands both recycled jeans and $200 branded sunglasses. It’s a fine line they are walking, but they are doing well.

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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