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The front entrance of Idego Coffee Roasters in Poway. Photo by Ryan Woldt
The front entrance of Idego Coffee Roasters in Poway. Photo by Ryan Woldt
ColumnsFood & WineRoast! San Diego

Bean Journal: Idego Coffee (Poway)

Where: Idego Coffee, 13303 Poway Rd, Poway, CA 92064
Open: 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily
What: Pour over Guatemala Quiche Natural
Tasting notes: Red grape, plum, sweet
Find them at: on Instagram
Other links for photos:
What I’m listening to: Fletcher, “Shh…Don’t Say It

Idego Coffee is…unexpected.

Idego is in a Poway strip mall between a Jersey Mike’s and a Five Guys burger shop, with whom they share some outdoor seating. There is plenty of parking and plenty of generic landscaping. Inside the doors on the left is a large, unlabeled map with the Coffee Belt painted in color on an off-white wall—white round tables down that side of the room towards the bathrooms.

You’ll find an L-shaped coffee bar on the right with a rounded corner. The menu hangs on the back wall. It is white paper tacked to a piece of plywood mounted on an off-white wall. Two shelves to the left of the register hold bags of coffee for takeaway and various merchandise items with the sky-blue Idego logo. It’s all straightforward, almost plain.

And yet…

An automatic Marco pour-over brewer sits next to a shiny La Marzocco espresso machine. I haven’t seen them in many shops, and I order a pour-over to see it work. It’s kind of like a batch brewer and a manual pour-over brewer got together behind the diner, and nine months later, the Marco SP9 Twin was born.

Coffee at Idego Coffee Roasters in Poway. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Bags of roasted coffee at Idego Coffee Roasters in Poway. Photo by Ryan Woldt

The barista — who, I might note, seemed to know his stuff and offered up some excellent service — measured and ground the beans, put them over a vessel under the water chamber, and hit a button. Water started moving upwards through the recirculation chamber and then pulsed the exact amount of water needed into my coffee below.

I assume the motivation for using the machine is creating consistency during the pouring process by removing the human element and freeing up the barista to do other things. Things like recommending one of the most oversized cinnamon rolls I’ve ever seen. They came from nearby O’Brien’s Bakery in Poway. I manage to hold out, but just barely.

I collect my coffee and take a moment to sit at a table inside. I feel awkward being the only customer in the room. I desperately want to say something to the barista, but we don’t know each other. I also don’t want to leave because he might be lonely. He’s just a few feet away…waiting…alone…

The space is functional, but the inside vibe is more grab-and-go than sit-and-hang. Thankfully, another customer shows up soon. They order a batch brew which is served as an Americano. I don’t know if that is the norm or if the barista did it to save time because there wasn’t a batch already brewed. I use the new customer commotion to step out and take one of the patio seats. It has started to mist, which makes me thankful for the umbrellas.

The interior of Idego in Poway. Photo by Ryan Woldt
The interior of Idego in Poway. Photo by Ryan Woldt

The coffee is good! Technology for the win. The sweetness on the back end hits me with a jammy flavor and the plum. I don’t taste the grape immediately, but my palate is warmed. While sitting, I check out the @IdegoCoffee on the ‘gram.*

There are photos of smiling customers, jumbo pastries, and Idego coffees being enjoyed in the wild. There seems to be so much warmth and life expressed in these images. They don’t all seem to be of this shop. With minimal digging, I learn Idego Coffee is (nearly) bi-coastal with another cafe in Blacksburg, Virginia.

The mist turns into rain, and I take my coffee and try to beat the inevitable back-up on the I-15 North. It’s just water falling from the sky, everyone! No need to panic. I take one last look at Idego Coffee. In a space that feels like it was likely once home to a yogurt parlor in a shopping center filled with chain restaurants, you’ll find an indie coffee roaster’s tasting room where you can get a brewed-for-you coffee with a local, artisan-baked pastry.

Like I said, unexpected.

*The kids all call it that.

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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