When I’m headed to San Diego I’m pumped, because there’s some great late night coffee houses. And my favorite is Lestat’s. As in, Lestat the vampire, from the Anne Rice books. The only thing that could be possibly better, might be a lost boys themed coffee shop, Or even Blood and donuts!
the first thing you notice when walking up to the window at ceres, is that it seems to be a place found elsewhere in the world, like France or Italy. Definitely not the Sonoran desert. İt’s housed in a former burrito restaurant, one that had operated and been a family business since 1927 but closed around the late 90s. İ hear the original owners still stop by from time to time.
this place is a gem, and i appreciate it on several levels. It serves coffee, and has a dark artistic aesthetic, and is also way into cycling. Beyond that, there is ample parking and is easy to get to, with outdoor seating and plenty of indoor tables too.
Open till midnight, it’s not too different than the beatnik-punk era coffee shops of the late 80s early 90s. It’s usually pretty busy, and the crowd rotates between students, bikers, goths, and some relatively regular folks. Everything about the place reaches back in time to when coffee houses were more social, more like a bar. There’s a few students doing homework silently on laptops, but the vibe is anything but 3rd wave.
As you enter, you may notice there are large plate glass windows lining the exterior walls, but it mysteriously remains dimly lit inside. Then, as you proceed to the counter, You pass a spiral staircase that winds up to a loft with couches, coffee tables, and a shelf of board games. there is only one place to stand to order, and in classic fashion, a line forms out towards the door. The espresso machine blocks the view to the barista. There is no chaos. it’s an old school set up with a pastry case by the register, and a drink menu looming behind the cashier. Black crown never felt the need to evolve into the 3rd wave coffee ‘experience’ that feels like you’re ordering coffee from the apple store.
then there are the little soft touches and flourishes. a Bathroom key is connected to a soup ladle, dangling from a nail on a post. Music is period appropriate with the occasional souxie and the banshees or sisters of mercy. Missing however, are the poetry readings and open mic nites that plagued the 90s. That’s ok, we can get by without those. They have a full rack of torani syrups. They have their own names for lattes and mochaesque concoctions.
after noticing all the important details and ordering, you can go up to the loft, sit ground level in wooden booths that line the large plate glass windows, or step out to the front patio.
the coffee is good and strong, the espresso drinks are made well. The atmosphere is inviting and cozy and never an air of snootiness from the baristas. This place is a nice break from what coffee houses have become. You’re actually meant to hang out here, And most importantly the doors are open when you need coffee at 11:30 pm…because you’re trying to stay up all night…to make art. Get directions. Next post: the lost art of staying up all night.