Where: Succulent Cafe, 505 Oak Ave, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Open: 9:00AM – 1:00 PM M, W-F and 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM S-SN. Closed Tuesdays.
What: Americano ft. Coatl Coffee Chiapas, Mexico
What I’m listening to: Nina Simone, “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)”
The Succulent Cafe in Carlsbad looks quiet when I walk up. The fence around is built out of posts and roof gutters filled with succulents (obviously) which offers the customers some privacy despite being one block off the central business district of the Village.
Step through the doors, and you’ll find that not to be so. Inside I’m greeted with an overload of charm. The open-air patio isn’t just filled with cacti, air plants, moss, and driftwood encompassed in varying styles of upcycled, oft vintage, and D.I.Y. potters. It has been designed just so.
The succulents provide a calming presence and inspire in me a feeling of agreeableness that isn’t familiar to my normal morning personality. It is quite lively inside. Several tables on the patio are occupied by birthday and bestie meet-ups, business persons on laptops, and tourists heading to the beach.
I make my way through the courtyard, following the natural path to the coffee bar. The counter is inside, but with a large open garage door, it still feels like one big open space. A single barista is running the show today. He apologizes for the pace, but it is no matter to me. There is plenty to see, and traveling forward in time just a bit slower feels right.
All the drinks are made with espresso here, meaning my normal black drip coffee with no room for cream isn’t an option. I order an Americano, which is an espresso topped off with hot water.* Espresso bars seem to be increasing in popularity in San Diego.
One roaster I spoke to recently estimated that at least 75% or more of their daily coffee sales came from espresso drinks—flavored lattes and cappuccinos, primarily.
The Succulent Cafe offers plenty of options, including their popular lavender mocha.
While I wait, I wander the garden looking at succulents I want to take home and sending photos to my wife of upcycled artwork I think she might like. “Americano in the window,” the barista shouts, and there my mug sits. Steam meanders upwards. I find a seat in the shade.
All the tables and benches are socially distanced and sometimes segregated by walls of succulents making each space feel like it has its own little bit of magic. I find an open space in the shade and sit down to enjoy my coffee and the view.
The coffee beans used for this particular cup are from Coatl Coffee** based just up the road in Oceanside and sourced from one of the founder’s family farms in Chiapas, Mexico.
“[Their] goal is to provide a high-quality roasted coffee bean to boost creativity, self-confidence, and to not compromise the pure elements that mother nature has provided,” according to the team at Coatl,
There is no wasted space at the Succulent Cafe. Upon closer inspection, even a tree in the courtyard is actually an electrical pole decorated with moss and hummingbird feeders hanging from mounted driftwood. I wonder if this cafe is more succulent or more cafe?
*There is disagreement as to whether an Americano should be made with espresso or the water put in the glass first. In this case, it was made with espresso first and water second.
**Coatl Coffee coffees are bird-friendly. From CoatlCoffee.com: “What this means is that there are over 100 different varieties of birds that are present on the farm in which our coffee grows, including the famous Quetzal, an elegant, exotic, mystical creature.
The large trees that shade the coffee plants provide perfect conditions not only for the coffee but for these wonderful creatures that sing and maintain the ecosystem of the farm. The bird-friendly certification is given by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and is very difficult to obtain, which is why we are proud to share that our coffee is bird friendly, and a portion of the proceeds from your purchase will go to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.”
Listen to an interview with the founders of Coatl Coffee, Dorian Escobar, and Louis Elguera, on the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast here! Follow @RoastWestCoast on Instagram.