Where: Gordy’s Bakery & Coffeehouse, 441 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas, CA 92024
Open: Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
What: Regular Joe batch-brew New Guinea roasted by La Costa Coffee
Price: $2.75 to $3.25
Tasting Notes: Caramel, roast
What I’m listening to: Up First on NPR Radio
I take a left of Interstate 5 onto Encinitas Boulevard. Just under the highway, on the right, is a strip mall that I never really noticed. You always see the blue-grey condos with white trim and Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Co. from the highway. I may not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself, but there is a whole world beyond the exit.
Gordy’s Bakery and Coffeehouse is nestled in-between a nail salon and an alkaline water dispensary in a wood-worn strip mall — similar to a sea-faring schooner far beyond its regularly scheduled maintenance log.
Gordy’s stands out from neighboring businesses with fire-engine red tables and chairs and a neon “espresso” sign greeting visitors at the entrance. If this sleepy business plaza is the aging parent, Gordy’s is the brash, wild child that has grown up but won’t give an inch on its punk rock wardrobe.
Inside, heavy rock music (at a reasonable decibel) pumps from the speakers. Mustard and purple walls are covered with framed concert posters of older bands — Ace Frehley, The Hives, Pixies, Pet Benetar and The Black Eyed Peas.
The cafe is rock n’ roll but with reasonable prices on pastries and without the devil horns.
I order a cup of black coffee. It’s a New Guinea organic from La Costa Coffee Roasting, which is a popular coffee wholesaler with cafes in North County, including a coffee shop on the edge of Carlsbad.
The coffee at Gordy’s was batch brewed and delivered way too hot for me to drink but not too hot for me to dip a cookie in. I should have ordered The Plonk, which is the namesake pastry of Gordy’s, but I’m still slipping out of the mental fog of the morning.
The Plonk is a dense-looking muffin filled with oats, raisins, brown sugar, banana, butter, flour, dates, walnuts, water, sugar, eggs, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger.*
My cookie is fine. Actually, both the cookie and the coffee are better when combined. I dip and sip while sitting out front listening to the news of the day and watching an early morning, mid-week crowd filter inside.
Four of five customers are either entering or exiting the yoga studio a few doors down. They almost exclusively order iced coffees. At a nearby table, a sales rep reviews some charts and graphs. A Chevy Suburban pulls up, and a mom runs in to get a quick pick me up before summer camp drop-off.
Gordy’s is the kind of coffee shop that is fiercely beloved by locals but also dependent on those same locals to survive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. I wonder how the customers stopping by this morning found the cafe the first time.
In addition, to drinks and Plonks, the bakery offers a wide variety of good-looking pastries for takeaway, and I imagine they do a good custom order business.
According to one of the more recent posts on the cafe’s Facebook page (from January of 2022), the cafe’s namesake, Gordy, and partner Ellen made way for new owners. From the looks of the website and menu, not much has changed. This is good for me because if I find myself in this corner of the world again, I’ll be able to try The Plonk or the Durfey or the B-Bar or…
*Full disclosure: I copied this list from Gordy’s website.
Check out “Up First” on NPR Radio:
The Bean Journal is a new column by Ryan Woldt, host of the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast, which can be streamed at: TheCoastNews.com. Look for features on North County coffee shops, cafes, and coffee roasters.