Where: 201 N Cleveland St Suite 109, Oceanside, CA 92054
Open: Daily 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM
What: Drip Coffee Jet Fuel Spitfire Blend
Region: Brazil and Colombia
Tasting Notes: Chocolate, caramel, plum, rich
Price: $3.50+tax for a 12oz
What I’m listening to: Kenny Loggins, “Danger Zone”
I’m a child of the ’80s. You know I put on “Danger Zone” while walking up to the wide open doors at Jet Fuel Roasters & Coffee Co. The coffee shop is part of The Lab Collaborative, a new dining spot that hosts a restaurant, bar and TLC Sandbox food truck often found at South “O” Brewing down the road.
The space is eye-catching in that new Downtown Oceanside sort of way. Bright orange and yellow tables liven up the outside space despite it being bathed in shadow this early in the morning. On the wall next to a simple and very clean walk-up counter is a mural with a fighter pilot theme. The Jet Fuel logo of a fighter pilot helmet with wings is very cool.
It’s a Tuesday morning, by the way. I didn’t know it then, but I’ve since learned that means the pastry case is filled with house-made cookies and muffins and cinnamon rolls. Somehow I missed the espresso chocolate chip cookie sign in the case. I noticed it in the pictures on my camera roll, and I nearly got back in the car to try one.
I ordered my standard, or as they call it, a Good Ol’ Black Coffee from the barista. It was a blend of coffee beans from Brazil and Colombia. Jet Fuel roasts their own beans, but not on-site at the cafe. The space behind the coffee bar is efficient.
At least, it is small enough to demand efficiency. There is indoor seating that bleeds into the restaurant space (not yet open this morning), but I take my saucer and mug to one of the uplifting yellow rounds out front to people-watch.
The street is fairly empty, less a steady trickle of locals stopping by to share the neighborhood’s hot gossip and fist-bump one of the employees readying The Lab as they pass. I play a game with myself, trying to identify locals from tourists. It’s barely 60 degrees. The locals are wearing puffy coats, and the tourists are in swim trunks and tees. I think I win.
The coffee is good but a bit watery. I think a tighter ratio of water to coffee would go a long way toward enhancing the citrus and berry flavors, whose spice is tempered by an undertone of milk chocolate and caramel. I pull a little tangerine flavor out too, but the richness has been lost in the brew.
The tables I’m sitting at seem dedicated to the Jet Fuel side of the business. Still, I don’t know for certain what happens after 11 a.m. when the restaurant opens. Most of the space seems to be accessible. I know I certainly am.
Oceanside is the kind of place where people don’t hesitate to talk to strangers. Even ones with headphones on drinking their coffee at a table off the sidewalk.
“I like your beard. I don’t have COVID!” says one woman.
“This isn’t my first coffee today,” a gentleman said wearing a vintage Michael Jordan t-shirt and matching Chicago Bulls ball cap. “Think the Bulls will be good this year?”
I love Oceanside for that. Jet Fuel is straddling that line between local and new downtown fancy. Doing a pretty good job of it too. I’ll be back to try the coffee again, and hopefully, an espresso cookie will be waiting for me.
Pro-tip #1: There is an Early Bird Special. $1 off all specialty drinks from 7 to a.m. daily.
Pro-tip: There is an Early Bird Special. $1 off all specialty drinks from 7 to 8 a.m. daily. Follow @jetfuel.coffeeco on Instagram for updates on their coffee and pastry specials.
Always tip your baristas, and be sure to drink good coffee. Get more Bean Journal on roastwestcoast.com or listen to the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast on Spotify. Follow @RoastWestCoast on Instagram. Read more columns here!