Where: Ironsmith Coffee Roasters, 458 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA, 92024
Open: Mon thru Fri : 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sun: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: Filter Coffee – Colombia La Coqoueta Castillo Washed
Tasting notes: Caramel, chocolate, tangerine
What I’m listening to: Handsome Boy Modeling School, “The Truth”
I might be sitting under an umbrella at an Ikea patio table less than a stone’s throw from the iconic Encinitas sign — still arching gracefully over the coastal highway—but I feel a bit like I’m back in Brooklyn.*
The vibe at Ironsmith is casual and relaxed. The cafe is narrow, with a long tree trunk bench along one side and the coffee bar taking up most of the space. A roll-up garage door substitutes for the front wall, bringing the breezes from outside in when up. The floors are finished concrete. The coffee bar shines. Blonde wood shelving above holding up the menu board softens the vibe.
Like every hip Brooklyn coffee bar I’ve ever been to, hip-hop beats float through the air, out the door, and dissipate over the 20 or so patio chairs, which are sparsely populated this late on a fall morning.
This is my favorite time of year in Southern California. But, unlike every hip Brooklyn coffee bar I’ve ever been to, the weather is still perfect in September.
Warm days bleed into cool nights. Summer, and the crowds that flock to Encinitas with it, are gone. This gap between Labor Day and the influx of foreign tourists is when locals reclaim their neighborhood streets, sidewalks and beaches — not that they ever give them up completely.
Like every hip Brooklyn coffee bar, there is a guy near the door chattering away about his start-up while clacking away on his Macbook.
But, unlike every hip Brooklyn coffee bar, most other customers (myself included) wear casual flip-flops and swim trunks. More than a few rest their feet on longboards. One outlier leans up against the building in jeans and cowboy boots.
The Colombian coffee I’ve ordered is the current flagship offering. It’s what you’ll get if you walk in and ask for a cup of coffee, and it is what you’ll find blended into a latte or cappuccino right now. They call it “The Problem Solver.” This particular cup is my second of the day, and the caramel and juicy citrus are more noticeable to me than the dark chocolate in the tasting notes.
While I drink, I consider pairing it with a Lava Cake Muffin, offered here only on Mondays, from the nearby Herb & Sea restaurant.
Like every hip Brooklyn coffee bar, you don’t come here for privacy. So without any eavesdropping effort, I overhear snippets of a half dozen conversations.
“They have full life insurance, and..”
“After yoga, I have that thing….”
“We 3D printed the drop-outs on the frame in Taiwan….”
“No. They’re real. I think they’re real….”
I drink my coffee and tune out the voices. Instead, I tune in to the white noise of cars cueing at the stoplight, cyclists (so many cyclists) whirring by, and the clickety-clickety of the skater wheels on the sidewalk. Across the seat, I look at the marquee of La Paloma Theatre.
Built around 1927, the 95-year-old building was one of the first to show “talkies.” Encinitas looks and feels like what a kid growing up in the Midwest imagined California was. I know because I was that kid.
Like every hip Brooklyn coffee bar, Ironsmith Coffee Roasters is cool. Unlike many hip Brooklyn coffee bars, they don’t seem to be trying too hard. They are just cool.
Pro-tip #1: Don’t want to wait in line? Pre-order and pay for your latte online, and then grab it from the pick-up window! Not in the area? Ironsmith offers free shipping on all U.S. orders at www.ironsmithcoffee.com.
Bonus fact #1: Ironsmith Coffee Roasters is a veteran-owned business. Founder and head roaster Matt Delarosa is a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Bonus fact #2: Matt appeared as one of the first guests on the Roast! West Coast coffee podcasts. We chatted while he was in the throes of a shop upgrade.
Want more coffee content? Listen to the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast on Spotify. Follow @RoastWestCoast and @ironsmithcoffee on Instagram.