Café LaTerre in Encinitas
Where: Café LaTerre,1022 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024 (inside Salon World Suites)Open: Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.What it is: Crossings Coffee Guatemala Huehuetenango*Price: $3.00Tasting notes: Lemon, praline , caramel**What I’m listening to: John Hartford “Joseph’s Dream”
There is no sign*** for Café LaTerre when I pull up in front of the Salon World Suites in Encinitas. Near the Target? Check it out. Any patio tables and chairs out front? I think this is it? Imagine my voice raised at the end of that sentence. I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure I’m in the right place.
I push through the front door of the salon and get a smile from the receptionist.
“Coffee?” I respond. She points out. Turn the corner, and there’s the cleanest white coffee bar I’ve ever seen, stopping me in my tracks. The top is shiny and the chrome on the rear bar shines. I take it in. I’ve been in some small cafes, but the footprint of this space can be one of the smallest.
Alden Hozouri comes out of nowhere. I’m not even sure how he managed to hide in such a small space, but he managed. In addition to being the operator for the growing Café LaTerre empire, he has been the founder and head roaster of North County San Diego-based Crossings Coffee Roasters since 2015.
Hozouri is calling a new brewery and offers me a made-to-order Guatemalan coffee he roasted earlier in the week. It’s still not up to his standards—which are incredibly high—so there’s a lot of coffee for me to try.
The small space is by design. Everything is within reach. The local owners of Salon World Suites would like to have a cafe inside all their locations as a collaborative business offering coffee, tea, drinks, pastries, and pre-packaged food.
The original location is in Solana Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway. It has a strong following from the cycling community, who take advantage of the outside window and patio space.
While I sit at the bar waiting for another coffee, several hairstylists come to order lattes for themselves and their clients. As a bald man who shaves his skull in decent shape and lets his beard grow wild, I don’t really need a hairstylist these days, but if someone throws in a good cup of coffee with the deal, I can ‘ I reconsider.
I make my way back through the front door to test the patio. It is cool in the shadow of the overhang of the building and deceptively quiet, considering the location in a strip mall next to the street. I can hear birds chirping through the bushes covering a large green embankment that acts as a sound barrier to the west. I have to admit some surprise, but the atmosphere is quite tranquil. The wind howls through the palms, and I feel like I’m in a spa. Excellent coffee helps.
This little corner of Encinitas used to be a craft coffee desert. I’m not saying there wasn’t some coffee to be had here. I’m just saying it wasn’t something someone had put their heart into crafting. Alden joins me for a moment between customers and asks for my opinion on the coffee.
I’m flattered. He has a better palate than I do, but I offer a few notes to make conversation until he is called back to the espresso machine.
I finish my coffee while listening to the music, allowing myself to stay cool. It’s hot out there in the real world, but this little corner of Encinitas just got a little less of a coffee desert.
**Do you say car-mel or cara-mel? I wonder if that is regional?
***The lack of signs was due to an agreement with a huge, non-local coffee chain that had priority. They have since closed their doors, and a sign of Café LaTerre hopes to emerge soon. Until then, go through the doors at Salonworld Suites and take a left. You will find it.
The Bean Journal is a new column by Ryan Woldt, host of the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast, streamable at: TheCoastNews.com. Look for features on North County coffee shops, coffee shops, and coffee roasters.