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Saturday, January 11, 2020


Santos Coffee House, North Park
Even with San Diego’s urban sprawl, there are still eclectic neighborhoods, where coffee lovers can find pockets of cozy, for example Kettle & Stone in the Mission Hills area of San Diego and Santo’s Coffee and Roaster in historic North Park.

Both have a different vibe that’s appealing to a collection neighborhood regulars.

Santos Coffee House, 3191 Thorn, is a tiny North Park café with just enough room for regular patrons, including a pastry counter and a wall of house-roasted coffees.  There’s a small patio for the mutts and an overall feeling of neighborliness.  Coffees are roasted to appeal to all.  I prefer the darker roasts and I can never seem to get enough plain ol’ Cuppa Joe (also available in bulk).  As said, it’s a small place with a huge Euro-style food menu starring deli-style sandwiches (served with potato salad and a pickle). 

Lately, they’ve added Hawaiian ices of all flavors to complement the frozen blended drinks and fresh fruit smoothies.  There’s a parochial theme to Santos menu items (it’s near St. Augustine High School—hence the name Santos means Saints).  And, the house specialty coffee is the Flying Nun ($5.50), which includes 3 shots of espresso, sweetened condensed milk, steamed milk, whipped cream & caramel sauce.  Tip: hold the caramel otherwise you have a sundae float.

They know what a Cortado is and can prepare you iced Vietnamese espresso drinks, too.  And, they excel in cold brew iced coffees.  Insider’s tip: Monday is bulk coffee day beans sell $9 half-pound and $13 full pound. I order half decaf and have regular beans custom bagged by the pound for the amateur coffee drinkers in my house and a full pound of full strength espresso roast for those who see wonders of the dark side.

Kettle & Stone, 1619 West Lewis, is one shop in a block-long, century-old mixed-use building in Mission Hills.  It’s surrounded by beauty salons and design shops, which gives the place a more feminine aura (especially when a display of beauty products are offered mid-shop.).  On this day, however, the shop was filled with male patrons, except my bride.  So go figure.

K&S offers a limited food menu and tea lovers are welcome.  I liked the fact that upon my last visit a customer in the window had a cloth bag full of books.  The tote bore labeling from Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France, my second favorite bookstore in the world.  Weekends are busy and chatty, while late Monday through Thursday mornings are tranquil and uncrowded.  No website.  --By Holden DeMayo, Caffeine Editor.
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