Where: Crackheads, 430 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Open: Open Daily at 7:00 AM
What: Batch Brew black drip Crackheads Morning Blend
Tasting notes: Citrus, Caramel
I wasn’t going to Crackheads this morning. I was going somewhere else in the neighborhood— a place with a big a-frame sign out front that says “COFFEE!” every day.
When I arrived, they were closed…in the morning…when people drink coffee. How can you be a coffee shop that doesn’t open until after a good chunk of the population is headed to work in the morning?
Enter Crackheads. I could see their coffee window was open as I walked down the street.* It is cut into the side of a metal shipping container or made to look so. On the corner of State St and Carlsbad Village Dr, they are in the heart of the Village.**
They are part of a corner that includes their breakfast and cocktail bar and Choice Juicery. A few years ago, this plot was slated for redevelopment, but the plan was nixed after enough community members spoke up.
To get to the coffee window, I walked down the faux lawn that splits picnic tables from tall two-top tables that protrude from the white fence separating them from the juicery.
The seating area is entirely open-air. To the ocean side of the window, there is a round fireplace with seating wrapped around it. I was sad it wasn’t lit yet, despite the low-60s chill of the morning and an excess of condensation covering every available surface. Winter is coming.
I ordered my standard drip coffee. The bag said Crackheads The Morning Blend, but they don’t roast their coffee. The barista said it used to be Verve Coffee, a well-known white-label coffee roaster, but she couldn’t say that was still the case. Verve has locations in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and four more locations in Japan.
The service was quite pleasant. I’m always impressed by the positivity of baristas who are mostly engaged with customers who haven’t drunk their morning coffee and are still on the wrong side of functional. We chatted about my lack of affection for the Halloween holiday.
Fifteen-plus Halloweens working as a bartender serving partiers in masks will dampen the appeal. I noticed how efficient the cafe space was. Just enough room for an espresso machine, coffee brewer, and some takeaway cups.
The drink menu covered all the standards, including lattes, hot chocolate, and chai. Nitro cold brew is on tap, and for some reason, cans of Redbull are available. I can’t say I’ve seen energy drinks on many cafe menus.
I took my coffee over to the fire pit to sit for a moment. The sun shining across the patio reflected the wet table tops illuminating my mug. I could hear birds chirping and watching the steam of the coffee. The morning seemed to transition from cold to crisp. Coffee makes everything better.
While I sat — hopeful someone would arrive with a dog I could pet — I sipped and considered.
In all things coffee, I try to be truthful. So here goes. I’ve never gotten coffee from Crackheads despite its convenient proximity to my home. In fact, if it weren’t for this Bean Journal column, I may never have stopped.
For my personal coffee drinking, I love supporting local roasters. I stand by that, but I think the bigger reason I’ve never been here is that I didn’t really consider that they might serve an enjoyable cup of coffee.
Coffee isn’t their only focus. They serve cocktails, brunch, and breakfast all day. I assumed a truckstop diner quality of coffee, which has its place, but not in my cup when I am so close to so many great local roasters.
That assumption seeped into my behavior long enough that I never thought of this place when walking out of my apartment into the marine layer fog in search of coffee. I didn’t account for the experience of the visit or that my assumption could be wrong! I know. I was surprised too.
As I sat and sipped by the fire pit leaning back against my chair and feeling the warmth of the morning sun on my face, I drank my drip coffee, which was quite good. I could taste the citrus, caramel, and even some milk chocolate notes.
I could imagine bringing my father here for coffee that we’d both enjoy and a place where we could sit outside and bullshit and argue and complain about the pop music. We could laugh together, and if we stayed long enough, we could order a cocktail and breakfast too.
You can see the Crackheads menu online at crackheads.com and follow them on Instagram at @Crackheads. A second location is in the works on the S. Coast Highway in Oceanside. Stay tuned to their feeds for more details on their future.
*In the mornings, there is plenty of street parking nearby if you’re driving.
**On Wednesdays evenings, this corner serves as the entry to the farmers market, and there is often a busker playing music.