Where: The Goods Doughnuts, 2965 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 7 a.m. to Sold out (of doughnuts)
What: Zumbar Hummingbird Blend drip coffee ($3.25) and glazed doughnut ($3.00)
Tasting notes: Buttery-sweet, balanced, chocolate, creamy
What I’m listening to: Shinyribs, “The Sacred & The Profane”
My buddy Justin is a coffee and doughnut* aficionado. He is particularly fond of cake doughnuts and strongly believes in dunking. Riding bicycles with him to various doughnut shops in North County is likely the only reason I ever started eating doughnuts in the first place.
Justin is my doughnut sensei. I should clarify. He is my doughnut and coffee sensei. His expertise and passion are both together, not one or the other.
Justin is who I’m channeling when I walk into The Goods on State Street in Carlsbad. An Instagram post tagging Zumbar Coffee & Tea put the shop on my radar.
Walking down the street, I see the lit-up gold “Donuts” sign first and the white-on-white patio tables blending into the white wall second. I step across the white honeycomb tiled threshold at the entrance and into an Instagram Influencer friendly cafe.
The coffee bar is to the right. As my eye runs past the hanging menu, it settles on row after row of doughnuts behind a glass shield protecting them from the heavy breathing and soon-to-be sticky fingers. Each column has its own spinning fan to prevent sugar-loving winged creatures from alighting.
As I stare through the glass, it is hard to determine which doughnuts want to be liberated and which might prefer staying in the pose for the adoring gawkers.
Beyond the dough and sugar is the open-ish kitchen — enough that I can see the bakers but not so much that I could sit and watch them work. The doughnuts are the true stars of this shop.
There are doughnuts covered in chocolate, sprinkles, bacon, nuts, and buttercream. There are doughnuts filled with jelly and citrus, and custard. There are cinnamon rolls as big as Thanksgiving serving platter and apple fritters so large they must have played baseball in the ‘90s.
Some doughnuts manage to be gluten-free or vegan, or both. I decide to keep it simple. I ordered a yeast-raised glazed doughnut and a black coffee. Sorry, Justin. There were no cake doughnuts on the marble countertop.**
The morning service at The Goods is better than excellent — upbeat and smiley, leaving me feeling upbeat and smiley too. No easy feat considering I have pre-gamed my visit with a cup of coffee at home. I’ve been reading and hearing about the difficulties finding hospitality industry employees, but the staff here is pretty happy in their work.
Perhaps they are just good actors, but the interactions feel sincere.
They pour me a batch brewed Zumbar Hummingbird blend coffee, a combination of washed and natural coffee beans from Ethiopia, Latin America, Brazil, and Sumatra. I have this same coffee in my grinder at home. I make it French-pressed. I sit for a moment at the low round table with a faux velvet, puffy booth back with my breakfast and look around.
White is the predominant color and drenches the counters, chairs, walls, and even the La Marazocco espresso machine. Accents of gold and teal pop, or is it teal with a dash of emerald? It’s hard to tell because it is early, and my eyes haven’t warmed up yet. Stenciled on the back wall, over a commuter bicycle propped up on the kickstand, are the words “RISE AND GRIND.” I feel moderately inspired.
The entire shop shouts upscale yet accessible. It is somehow both city yet suburban, hip yet not offensive, and visually appealing without leaving a long-lasting impact. I had to refer to photos I took on my phone to remember the physical details. What stands out is how friendly the staff were to the cranky guy who rolled out of bed to wander down and buy a donut…err, doughnut.
I move outside to the patio. I take a few bites of my doughnut. It is rich and covered with a thick, sugary glaze. I tear it in half the way Justin has taught me and dip it into my coffee. I see the glaze bleed off and mingle with the coffee oils that shimmer atop the mug.
My first bite is delicious. It is light and fluffy, which is lovely but not ideal for dipping. To get the exact right combination of coffee and dough, you need the density of the cake doughnut. I don’t dip again, but it is still an enjoyable breakfast.
The coffee is rich and brewed well. It accentuates more traditional roasted and chocolate notes without going dark past the point of flavor destruction. Around me, families and coastal tourists make their way into the shop. They exit moments later with paper sheaths containing a sweet, doughy treat poking out just far enough to nibble on without losing too many crumbs to the sidewalk passing beneath their Ugg boots.***
I’m enjoying my coffee, but if I don’t stop eating the doughnut, I’m destined to finish it without bringing enough home to share with my still-sleeping wife. If I have to order another, I’ll probably order two, and since I’m already ordering two, I might as well get a half-dozen and a latte for good measure. With doughnuts and coffee, it is a slippery slope.
I wrap the rest of the glaze dough up in a napkin, press the lid down on my coffee mug, and stand up. I take a big sip to get motivated for the walk home. It is still sweet from the glaze. I make eye contact with the staff inside behind the counter. Even though they are ringing up another customer, they smile and wave. I smile and wave and might just be ready to rise and grind.
*Is it donuts or doughnuts? On The Goods website, it is doughnuts, but in the store window, it is donuts. Full disclosure, I’ve adjusted my spelling in this column several times.
**I’ve seen him walk out of a doughnut shop that didn’t offer cake doughnuts. His passion is unparalleled.
***It’s only about 68 degrees this morning. This morning, I saw more than a few pairs of Uggs combined with puffy jackets.
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