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North County Roastery in Oceanside
Columns Food & Wine Roast! San Diego

Bean Journal: North County Roastery

Where: North County Roastery, 129 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
Open: Daily
What: Organic Peru Minca Drip Coffee
Price: $2.50-3.00
Tasting Notes: Citrus, chocolate, molasses
What I’m listening to: Sublime, “Doin’ Time”

There is a San Franciscan roasting machine in the picture window to the north of the doorway at North County Roastery. The gold-and-black machine draws the eye even as I tug on the knob to go inside. It has an elegant, almost antique, look to it. The colors match the North County Roastery logo.

Inside the walls are white subway tiles. The countertop is white, as are the coffee mugs and the frosting atop the cinnamon rolls in the pastry cabinet. Plaques with inspirational sayings are mounted on the walls aligned with photos of heroes from far — firefighters at the Twin Towers, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Sitting Bull — and near. Junior Seau looms large in Oceanside and in this room.

At the counter is a display of Bradley’s House Blend coffee, a medium-dark roast coffee blend and a shop collaboration with the Nowell Family Foundation. The proceeds go to help fund build a six-bed recovery facility that will provide treatment for people in the music industry with opioid addiction.

Bradley’s House is being built in the memory of Bradley Nowell, the frontman for ska-punk band Sublime, until his passing in 1996.

North County Roastery in Oceanside
A quote by the late Bradley Nowell on the wall at North County Roastery in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt

My coffee mug is full of organic, house-roasted Peru. Black. No room for cream. I head outside to sip and ponder the North County Roastery motto — strong and bold.

The Fin Hotel is a Boutique Hilton Tapestry hotel connected to The Switchboard Restaurant and Bar, which is then connected to this small-batch roaster.* The patio is a lovely place to sit and people-watch. I watch the cars and characters of Oceanside roll by, walk by, and stumble by.

This block is an example of how new businesses can rejuvenate a block or even a neighborhood. What was once the Dolphin Hotel, nicknamed the Dirty Dolphin — for reasons I’ll let you imagine — has become something new and beneficial to Oceanside while uplifting the past.

The Switchboard owes its name to the communications operators that worked and lived on-site during World War II. It took some strong and bold thinking to envision what this corner just south of downtown O-side has become.

North County Roastery in Oceanside
Pastries at North County Roastery in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt

There are more than 800 different flavors associated with coffee making it one of the most complex beverages on Earth. By comparison, wine has about 200 different flavor components. In addition to the house-provided notes, I can taste a little nutmeg, graham cracker, and even raisin in this one.

When I’m really paying attention to a coffee’s flavor, I close my eyes and slurp the liquid across my tongue. With this one, the flavor fills my mouth without the extra effort.

The morning is already ungodly hot, and I’m grateful for the teal umbrellas keeping the sun off me. Behind me, I hear customers ordering breakfast from The Switchboard. Someone orders an espresso martini made with the house coffee and Locals Only Vodka, and I think, in the name of research…

*North County Roastery roasts coffee in five-pound batches.

Listen to an interview with Kevin Shin (Owner and Roaster) and Jason Walker (General Manager and Roaster) of North County Roastery on the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast, which can be streamed at: TheCoastNews.comSpotify, and Apple Podcasts.

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