Where: Origen Coffee Roasters, 2131 Palomar Airport Rd, Carlsbad, CA 92011*
Open: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday thru Friday
What: Pourover Honduras – Honey processed from Café Organico Marcala, S.A.
Tasting notes: Meyer lemon, caramel, chocolate fudge, and wild honey
Find them at: https://www.origencoffeeroasters.com • @origencoffeeroasters on Instagram
What I’m listening to: Josh Ritter, “For Your Soul”
I’m looking for someplace to go while I wait for a meeting. Origen Coffee Roasters is nearby on the map and presumably open. I turn right onto Yarrow Drive at Burgeon Beer, heading up the hill toward the airport.
The display map tells me to turn left into a driveway across from Newman Windows and Doors, but I’m not seeing a sign or any indication there is coffee in that direction. Like Michael Scott, I put my trust in the machines.
I wind between the trees until I can drive no further. I park facing a lovely tree covered in blooming red flowers. I don’t see Origen, but I’ve committed to following the blue line on my phone to fruition. I follow the concrete path on foot. It leads me deeper into the heart of this office park.
There are office buildings around me, but my senses are overwhelmed by the green space. The scents are intoxicating — rose, sage, and the wetness of spring. I’m comforted by the sound of a waterfall spilling into a koi pond.
As I cross a short bridge, the colored carp rise to the surface. Their mouths open, waiting for manna from the heavens.
This unexpected oasis for the mind is where you’ll find Origen Coffee Roasters. It is a simple coffee cart. Cold drinks are available in a cooler facing out. The counter houses a small pastry case, a display of roasted coffee beans, a register, and a set of laminated menus. Behind an Origen Coffee Roasters sign propped up at the end of the counter sits the espresso machine—the chrome glistens.
When asked what I’d like to order, I blurt out, “Pour over, please. Of the Honduras, I think.” My gosh!
What has come over me? I almost always order a black drip. I must have gotten a buzz from the intensity of the rose bushes.
The barista informed me that my coffee was honey processed at the farm. It is a more complex and time-consuming style of processing that involves partially stripping the cherry fruit from the coffee seed (bean), then leaving it out on a drying bed platform to dry.
The beans are rotated as often as every hour for up to two weeks while they dry. There is no actual honey involved in honey-processing coffee beans.
The pour-over takes about four minutes to brew. While I wait, I stare out over the pond. If I squint a little, blurring the edges of my sight, it is easy to imagine I’m out in nature instead of a few hundred yards from Palomar Airport Road. But then, a passing helicopter snaps me back to reality.
My coffee comes in a heavy, thick, Fellow-brand coffee mug. If I drop it, I’ll undoubtedly break a toe. I take it down the path away to sit on a wicker lounger facing the waterfall. Once I’m settled in, I take a sip. Oh god, this is good. The flavor profile booms in my mouth with a bit of a clean, citrusy snap at the finish.
This is one of those coffees that will induce an audible sigh from my mouth. If you happened by, you’d likely see my shoulders sink as I collapsed back into the chair in a state of relaxation.
For a while, I’m alone in the courtyard. Normally, I’d relish being alone with my coffee, but I’m enjoying this moment so much that I practically long for someone to share it with. I don’t have to wait long. It isn’t overly busy, but a steady stream of customers go through the garden to buy a coffee.
Some take away cups and disappear into the surrounding buildings to do whatever the businesses here do. I never saw a sign, so I can’t say for sure. Some pull up in a car or on foot, order coffee, share a smile and a chat, and then disappear in the vehicles around the bend in the drive.
This place is a hidden gem. I hesitated to write that line because it is oft overused. Nearly every press release I receive uses some variation on the term, no matter how popular and known a place is, but in this case, it fits. This coffee cart is hidden, and it is unquestionably a gem.
If you care about coffee. If you care about service. If you care about the atmosphere. Carve out fifteen minutes or an hour, and go on an expedition. Go to Origen. I strongly recommend you order your coffee to stay. It will be good for your soul.
*A second location of Origen Coffee Roasters recently opened at 2175 Salk Ave, Carlsbad, CA 92008, across from Scripps Medical Center.
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. You can even stream the latest episodes on The Coast News! Also, check out the recent interview with heart transplant recipient Matthew Hankes.