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Saturday, February 21, 2015


Dark Horse Coffee Roasters now open in North Park.
COFFEE SOCIETY--There was a time in recent history when North Park, the historic and now hipster neighborhood, didn’t have one coffee house.  That was 1993. In fact, the only non-fast food restaurants in the area where you could order a cup of any kind of coffee were Paesano’s on 30th; Rudford’s, Red Fox and Chicken Pie Shop on El Cajon Blvd. and Western Steerburger on University.

For a writer and editor, who spent a career in newspaper and magazine offices, I was hooked on coffee and my home ‘hood was a wasteland for espresso drink aficionados.

But eventually things began to perk up.

In the mid-90s, when most Hipsters were transitioning from trikes to bikes with training wheels, Millennium Coffee opened at Kansas and University Avenue.  Good idea and great location, however, the Millennium just didn’t catch on. It barely lasted a year before folding.

Fortunately, the next tenant to occupy Millennium’s space was a young hard working woman named Claire Magner, who created North Park’s first true coffee house and called it Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge.  That was in the late 1990s.

Claire de Lune is a survivor becoming a quintessential neighborhood coffee house.  Thanks to a remarkable work ethic and a love for North Park, Claire de Lune has withstood and actually flourished with coffee house competitors that have come and gone since Ms. Claire opened her doors to all things coffee.

Thanks, Claire.

Fast forward. 

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters opened for business this week.   It is the second Dark Horse location (others being in Truckee CA and Adams Ave. near Bancroft in San Diego).  The Adams Avenue site has a solid following.  The new Dark Horse (adjacent to Waypoint Restaurant at 30th and North Park Way), offers the full range of coffee drinks.

I ordered a $3.50 café latte for 12 oz.
It was delicious.  Just the right temperature.  The barista also produced a nice flower pattern on the cream.  OK, I like patterns on my café latte.

The décor for this very small operation was exceptional. The indoor/outdoor seating adds to the eclectic and walkability of the neighborhood. This is not a review because one 12 oz. café latte on one day is not a true basis for any serious critique, but it was another good day in North Perk, especially for the neighborhood’s new growth industry.


Caffe Calabria
3933 30th St.

Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge
2906 University Ave. (@Kansas St.).

Coffee & Tea Collective
2911 El Cajon Blvd. (@30th St.)

NEW--Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
3794 30th St. (entrance on North Park Way)

Holsem Coffee
2911 University Ave.
Remodeling the spaces formerly occupied by Chester's Furniture and Chito’s Shoe Repair site.  Chito's is now on Lincoln St.

3000 Upas St. #103 (@30th St.).

Santos Coffee House
3191 Thorn St. (@32nd St.).

2899 University Ave. @29th St.

3206 University Ave., @32nd St.

NEW--Streetcar Merchants
4002 Lincoln Ave. (@30th)

Subterranean Coffee Boutique
3764 30th St.

Young Hickory
4096 30th St. (@Polk. Ave.)

South Park
3015 Juniper St. (@30th St.)

About the Author:

North Parker Tom Shess, a career magazine and newspaper writer/editor attended Roosevelt Junior High School, where they sold no coffee.  Among many posts, he is the founder of this blog and the North Park News, where he was editor and publisher from its founding in 1993 until 2000, when he sold the monthly community newspaper to become editor of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.

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