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Banana Dang Coffee in Oceanside offers a unique vibe, delicious coffee and plenty of decorative bananas. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Banana Dang Coffee in Oceanside offers a unique vibe, delicious coffee and plenty of decorative bananas. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Columns Food & Wine Roast! San Diego

Oceanside’s Banana Dang Coffee is a vibe

Where: Banana Dang Coffee, 115 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA, 92054
Open: Daily 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
What: Super Monkey Blend batch brew (Colombia + Guatemala)
Tasting Notes: Dark chocolate, mango, caramel
Price: $2.85 (with the bring your own cup discount)
What I’m listening to: Wolf Parade, “I’ll Believe in Anything”

I’m literally half a step past the entrance of Banana Dang Coffee in Oceanside when some universe-altering force causes me to U-turn and step over the threshold into this previously unexplored craft coffeehouse.

This place is a vibe. I’m greeted by some fresh hip-hop beats, a mismatch of tables and stools, vintage chairs and funky artwork — it all seems to fit together perfectly.

I make my way around the bar, past the perfect-looking pastries from SPLIT Bakehouse (one of my favorite vegan baked goods providers), to the register to order my coffee. The staff is all wearing masks, which I appreciate. I realized the world has moved on from “the Covid,” but I’m still keeping a wary eye out for the virus.

Today’s (and I think most days’) batch brew is Super Monkey, a blend of coffee beans from Guatemala and Colombia and it comes out scorching hot.

Banana Dang Coffee is direct trade and roasted at a co-op in San Diego. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Banana Dang Coffee buys directly from growers (direct trade) and is roasted at a co-op in San Diego. Photo by Ryan Woldt

I set it down on a tall table near the back of the space and take in my surroundings. In the back, there is a wall of banana artwork over a pair of lounge chairs. A shelving unit is filled with Banana Dang merchandise. More artwork lines the front walls over picnic tables and bar seating.

The big front window looks out at the South Coast Highway. An oil painting of Spock keeps a watchful on my coffee while I wander around.

There are bananas everywhere. There is even a flyer proclaiming the Benefits of Bananas in a frame, and on the shop’s website, it says, “Bananas are the world’s most perfect fruit.” Besides coffee, the shop has an extensive smoothie and menu (Guess which ingredient is in every offering?) They also serve “Happy Toast,” which you can order with or without bananas.

Despite the vintage-casual atmosphere, this place is CLEAN. The sun reflects off the floor, and every surface shines from years of elbow grease. I can practically see the Tribe Called Quest lyrics bouncing off the surfaces.

The interior of Banana Dang Coffee in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt
The interior of Banana Dang Coffee in Oceanside. Photo by Ryan Woldt

The only downside to this cafe is that there isn’t a full patio, but there is a nice bench out front. I relocate just in time for the marine layer to roll back and the sun to come out. I lean back against the wall, sipping away at what has become a really lovely cup of coffee now that it has cooled. The mango and fruit flavors shine over the more traditional dark chocolate. There is just a hint of bitterness. It drinks clean with a crisp finish.

The morning traffic is light but provides a calming, constant white noise. I can just make out some French club hip-hop notes from the nearby entry. I pull out a scrap of paper from my pocket and start a grocery list. Bananas are at the top.

Author’s note: I ran into Matt Delarosa, founder of Ironsmith Coffee Roasters in Encinitas. It’s always a good sign when your coffee shop is where other great coffee shop owners are hanging out drinking coffee and eating smoothies. Matt was a guest on the first season of Roast! West Coast. Check out that interview here.

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.

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