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Racer Coffee Company in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Racer Coffee Company in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt
ColumnsFood & WineRoast! San Diego

Bean Journal: Racer Coffee Company

Where: Racer Coffee Company, 4040 Calle Platino #111, Oceanside, CA 92056
Open: 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM Monday-Friday
What: Black Drip Coffee – $3.00
Find them at: • @racer_coffee_company on Instagram
What I’m listening to: Tyler Childers, “Whitehouse Road”

Racer Coffee Company is tucked away in the back of an Oceanside business park. Beer fans might recognize the address as being in the same building as Horus Aged Ales. You’ve got to work in the area or want to find them to pop in for a coffee.

When you do, you’ll find a small race-inspired cafe with brewed coffee ready to go and a simple menu offering espresso and lattes, and cappuccinos. There is a pastry cabinet on the counter, but it is already empty when I arrive on another damp, grey morning in late May.

The owner, Kevin, serves my coffee and chats a bit about who his customers are. More coffee seekers and fewer from the nearby school than expected. While I’m there, more than a few other customers, seemingly regulars, roll up. “I love Racer Coffee,” says one through the rolled-down window of a sedan as she leaves. I think she was talking to me, but it is possible she was just putting it out into the world.

A cup of Racer coffee on top of a Stranahan's whiskey barrel. Photo by Ryan Woldt
A cup of Racer coffee on top of a whiskey barrel table top. Photo by Ryan Woldt

According to the Racer Coffee website, they are the official craft coffee of racing. It’s a big statement, but it goes with the bold coffee I’m drinking. I’m sitting on a stool next to a Stranahan’s* whiskey barrel, looking out at the landscaping that leads up to a wall separating this business park from the Titleist Performance Institute. It is quiet, except for the birds, and a nice respite from the world.

Kevin pops out to tell me that the whiskey barrel had been home to many, many aged batches of coffee beans before being retired. That is one of the things they do that makes them unique. They have a barrel-aged Guatemala coffee called Whiskey Throttle available on their website right now.

“The green bean absorbs all the odors and tasting notes from the previously used bourbon barrel. The alcohol is removed during the roasting process, but the deliciousness remains.”

Bags (and oil cans) filled with Racer coffee. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Bags (and oil cans) filled with Racer coffee. Photo by Ryan Woldt

Racer Coffee Company isn’t just a fixed-location cafe. They have a very cool-looking mobile set-up parked out front and are fixtures at racing events in the community. They also host events bringing fans of cars, racing, and coffee to this calm outpost in North County.

The clientele here is eclectic. In the time I’m sitting out front Kevin serves mechanics from a neighboring shop, educators from the school, and even a young man who I’m choosing to stereotype as a coffee frat bro.

He asks for the “strongest espresso you offer.” He proceeds to describe in great detail the drink he would like. It is a very simple drink and one that is already on the menu. Kevin nods, and the bro leaves happy, as have all the other customers who’ve passed through this morning—including me.

*Stranahan’s is one of my favorite whiskeys. It felt like a sign that I was meant to be here.

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!