The Coast News Group
The interior of Skybound Coffee and Dessert Lounge in Vista. Photo by Ryan Woldt
The interior of Skybound Coffee and Dessert Lounge in Vista. Photo by Ryan Woldt
ColumnsFood & WineRoast! San Diego

Bean Journal: Skybound Coffee and Dessert Lounge

Where: Skybound Coffee + Dessert Lounge, 1661-A S Melrose Dr, Vista, CA 92081
Open: 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. 8 p.m. on Sunday
What: Black Drip Coffee
Find them at:* • @skyboundcoffeedessert on Instagram
What I’m listening to: Jack Johnson, “Flake” (Live)

Skybound Coffee + Dessert Lounge occupies the corner space in a retail center in Vista. They’ve got a prime corner location with an entire wall of windows overlooking South Melrose Drive. The center is just one of many on this stretch of road. I can see why they chose the spot.

Unfortunately, time has not been kind to their particular corner. The CVS Pharmacy** appears to have closed. As has the pizza place and the dentist leaving Skybound and Chase Bank to fend for themselves.

After I park, I realize I’m only a space away from the other car in the lot. The psychology of that choice strikes me. I’m not sure what it means, but I can theorize that I’m looking for community this morning.

The size of the cafe strikes me as I walk inside. There are several different sitting, eating, and working spaces, including a lounge area to the right of the entry, extended communal seating down the middle of the room, and a row of stools at a bar mounted against the windows looking out at the street.

The front entrance to Skybound Coffee and Dessert Lounge in Vista. Photo by Ryan Woldt
The front entrance to Skybound Coffee and Dessert Lounge in Vista. Photo by Ryan Woldt

They’ve leaned into the idea of a cafe as a place people want to hang out and work. In addition to the comfortable seating, they’ve added numerous outlets for laptop users, excellent lighting over the tables, and even a printer for customers to use. Today, a single person sits watching their phone charge.

The menu is shockingly huge, with numerous coffee drinks, desserts, a gelato bar, and a fancy toast and sandwich menu. Skybound serves coffee roasted by Cafe Virtuoso (recently acquired by TK Coffee), a wholesale roasting company based in San Diego.

I ordered a batch-brewed black coffee. I don’t have much to say about it. I can’t remember much about it other than it was scorching, and when it cooled enough to sip, I could taste every bit of the roast. Whatever unique flavors that bean may have had were lost to the darkness of the brew.

I 100% don’t put that on the barista, who was quite pleasant and provided an enjoyable service experience. As far as I could tell, they were the only employee working at the moment. They were the only ones brewing coffee, making food, serving customers, and keeping the cafe moving forward. Even during a slow lull, running a restaurant, which is more of a restaurant than a coffee shop, takes a team.

The part of me that spent most of my youth and the first two decades of adulthood working in hospitality ached for the barista. There is a slow dulling of excellence as one realizes there is only so much to do with limited employee resources.

Skybound Coffee and Dessert Lounge. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Skybound Coffee and Dessert Lounge. Photo by Ryan Woldt

Do you choose to provide excellent service, or do you ensure the pastry shelves are cleaned until they are transparent? Do you run to answer the phone or finish picking up after customers in the lounge? Do you keep an eye on that Chimichurri Toast or finish making a VanillaCali Latte?

The answer is yes. You do it all — somehow, someway.

I take my coffee out to one of the tables out front. If I angle my chair in such a way, my back is to the empty parking lot, and I’m only enjoying the view and scent of in-bloom Bird of Paradise plants. Fun fact, the Bird of Paradise is a relative of the banana tree. I sit and reminisce on the years I spent on the other side of the counter. A soft sheen has fallen over most of those memories, but the ache in my knees is a continued reminder of my efforts.

I didn’t find a new community to join this morning, but for a moment, I’m visited by the ghosts of coworkers whose phone numbers have long since been lost. I can still see them at the bar, behind the kitchen line, and dropping a dray at table 12. Cheers to them and the barista at Skybound this morning.

*Their website allows for online ordering, but links to overseas watch deals exist. Take that how you will.

**CVS would have been the anchor store at this location. They draw the most significant customer traffic, enabling the satellite stores around them to benefit merely by proximity.

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 local coffee roasters like Crossings Coffee, Mostra Coffee, and Ignite Coffee Company. You can even stream the latest episodes on The Coast News!

Leave a Comment