Where: MRKT Space, 782 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024***
Open: Daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
What: Public Square MRKT Space Roast Batch Brew
Price: $4.27 after tax
What I’m listening to: K.Flay, “It’s Been So Long”
Am I still in Leucadia? Or have I magically been transported back to Park Slope in Brooklyn? For the record, I didn’t live in Park Slope. Miranda from “Sex in the City” resided in Park Slope. I lived a few neighborhoods over.
In the morning, I’d walk through the park and emerge from the bushes like a young Mary Lennox in “The Secret Garden.” I’d blink, blink, and gaze upon this magical land that was somehow New York but cleaner, shinier, and with well-marked bike lanes.
Marketplaces like MRKT Space are the upscale equivalent of a bodega (minus all the black plastic bags and straws). They are a self-proclaimed “modern convenience store.” They have coffee — the reason I’m there— and cocktails, wine, beer, food, and accessories to enhance the eating and drinking experience. They’ll make you a sandwich, and if you like it, you can probably find the ingredients in the marketplace to take home.*
Not to mention a bottle of wine and some ethically sourced chocolate. I order a batch-brewed coffee which the sincerely engaging barista tells me is from Public Square, a roaster out of La Mesa.
They make a special roast exclusively for MRKT, and mine is fine…just fine. I’m always glad to see one local business support another. Still, I don’t know that this batch represents the way they hoped.
I’d venture it is over-extracted. I can feel the astringency on my lips and taste the bitterness on my tongue. Generally, bitterness is a good thing, but it covers up more approachable flavors and natural sweetness in this case. A common cause of over-extraction in coffee is being brewed too long, which would be my guess with this batch.
The coffee is still hot and drinkable. I take it with me while I wander around the shop listening to indie pop music, peeking into coolers, and taking in all the fine foodstuffs available to take home. The curated products seem to lean towards ethical sourcing — always appreciated.
Everything in the market seems to be placed just so. It’s a lot to take in and comforting in a lived-in but still cared-about way. Someone is paying attention to the design in this space. The upside-down hanging Christmas tree is a nice touch.
MRKT Space has a modern look. The seating isn’t overtly fancy, but it is sleek and comfortable. Other customers are posted up throughout the space with laptops nibbling on snacks. There are multiple seating areas at various heights to suit your fancy.
The deceptively large space is open air on the north end, with a counter overlooking the Coast Highway. The south side of the operation is more gourmet market-heavy and features an outdoor patio.
Many outdoor spaces are abutted by large pots of towering snake plants that offer the illusion of privacy. I’m grateful for the thick green stalks next to my table on the sidewalk when a big truck pulls up next to me for no other reason than to idle and spew exhaust.**
I sip my coffee at one of the sidewalk tables in the shade of an umbrella. The people-watching here is excellent—so much denim in Leucadia. I must have missed the memo.
As my coffee disappears, I’m struck by how comfortable I feel in the MRKT Space’s…Errr…space. It isn’t hard to envision sitting here typing away on a laptop, having a meeting, or joining my wife for a late-in-the-day cocktail. The cocktail menu looked pretty enticing. MRKT is a place for coffee and communing. While I didn’t stay for a second cup of coffee, I’ll be back to try again.
*You and I know that if you take those ingredients home, you’ll never recreate that sandwich. Don’t blame yourself. It’s not possible. No one can.
**Why own a colossal diesel truck in Leucadia if you don’t need it for work? Navigating the narrow streets has to be puckering, and parking can’t be easy. Not to mention the gas mileage, dear goodness, the gas mileage. I don’t understand.
***MRKT Space also has a location in La Jolla. You can find links to order online at either location here: https://linktr.ee/MRKTSPACE.
Follow MRKT Space online @mrktspace_us. 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.