The Coast News Group
Photo by Ryan Woldt
Cheers! North CountyColumns

Cheers! North County: Welcome to the COVID Cafe

The best thing about the COVID Cafe is the location. No more than 10 steps from my bed, and I’m already placing an order for a coffee, and a side of toast with peanut butter. I’ve heard that this is the hottest new cafe in the neighborhood.

There is no one at the counter. This must be one of those hip self-service coffee shops I’ve heard so much about.

With a little luck, I find a generic-looking brown bag of whole beans in a cabinet. The word “Sumatra?” is handwritten on the outside. I’m guessing they are from an underground, fair trade Indonesian coffee farm where the beans range freely in the fields, and after harvest make their way stateside in the hold of a small ship reminiscent of Captain Zissou’s Belafonte.

I eyeball what is probably, roughly the exact right number of coffee beans for the large French press the proprietors of this establishment left in the sink.

All of their fancy professional grinders must be in the shop because all I can find is a Magic Bullet personal blender. I’ll note that on the comment card.

I press down on the blender cup filled with beans. It sounds like I accidentally dropped a fork in the garbage disposal, but the sounds of coffee being made is just one of the things that flesh out the ambiance of this hipster cafe.

The beans look fairly well chopped up in a variety of sizes, which is probably right. I can’t believe they don’t charge extra for this immersive experience.

Shop policy must be to leave grounds in the press between uses. Probably to maintain a consistent humidity in the press. I rinse out the beans releasing day-old coffee aroma and dump the dry grounds into the base. I look for a hot water dispenser, but this cafe is so passionate about handcrafting each cup of joe that I can’t find one.

In the spirit of the craft, I heat up some water in a small pot that smells, slightly, of marinara. I didn’t realize this was an Italian cafe! I pour the boiling water into the press with a bit of a swirl to really draw out the flavors of some of the bigger chunks of coffee bean.

I only splash a little, but it is hot enough to merit running some cold water over my wrist. Thankfully the cafe is conveniently located near a kitchen sink.

While I wait for the freshly steeped coffee, I find some bread to shove into the small slot of a toaster. They must normally trim the slices into perfect squares here. I wonder if Killer Dave home-makes each loaf or has a team of artisans he works with.

I’m a little disappointed there isn’t some freshly smashed avocado to pair with my toast, but peanut butter will do just fine. This seems like an eco-friendly place, so they probably are just reusing the Costco jar to store their homemade peanut butter.

Shoot, how long has it been since that coffee’s been steeping? No matter. I’m sure it is fine. I take the French press and toast into the dining area where I find a worn orange velour chaise lounge in the corner next to a coffee table made out of an old erector set.

Honestly, I may not be cool enough to be in this establishment. I’m glad no one has pointed at my gray sweatpants yet or even noticed that I’m not wearing shoes.

I forgot to grab a mug from the coffee bar, but someone conveniently left one sitting here that looks pretty clean. I’m sure this is the kind of place that has all different kinds of mugs. This one has a camper van on it. So cool.

Steam swirls up as I pour the coffee. There is no background music here so I can really focus on the ambient sounds. Is that a truck backing up? I definitely hear a leaf blower. A burnt charcoal smell wafts into my nostrils as I lift the mug to my lips. I breathe in deeply.

The essence of the coffee fills my whole being, and I take a sip. What are those delicate flavors? Is that chocolate? Or dirt? Perhaps a hint of marinara? I better snap a photo for my Instagram.

Is that the manager over there? She’s wearing pajama pants too! I better introduce myself. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time here.

1 comment

Ryan Woldt May 6, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Just an FYI: The COVID Cafe turns into the COVID Cocktail Bar at about 5, no 3, no 12:00 PM…Just kidding. 11:00 AM.

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