See My City: An Instagram Guide to San Diego's Coffee Scene

When my parents visited us recently, they noted that they expected to go to one or two coffee shops with me since I seem to frequent them so often. (They watch my Instagram Stories.) It's true. I've fallen hard for the fantastic coffee - and tea - scene here in San Diego. And I'm on the verge of admitting that I have become a bit of a snob about where I order my caffeine. Can you blame me? Not only are the drinks impeccably well made, the designs of these shops are top-notch, which has the added benefit of making them highly instagram-able. See for yourself. (Note that these are listed in no particular order because I can't pick a favorite. I just can't.)

Communal Coffee

Communal Coffee is a coffee shop after my own heart, because not only does it serve caffeine-done-right, it also shares its space with a lovely flower and gift shop, Native Poppy. The combination absolutely can't be beat.

The iconic COFFEE + FLOWERS wall has become a bit of an Instagram darling, so If you come just for that, I understand. But you'll come back for the lovely lattes (the latte flights are worth a try - the floral flight is my favorite) and delicious avocado toast, and you'll leave with a little gift that made you think of THAT friend when you saw it - plus, I'm betting, a fistful of fresh flowers.

Communal Coffee and Native Poppy

2335 University Avenue SD, CA 92104

Holy Matcha

Okay, I'll admit that I first went to Holy Matcha solely for the design aesthetic and not at all for the drinks. I had never tried matcha, but from what I had gathered, the green drink didn't seem like my cup to tea (so to speak). But all credit goes Holy Matcha and their lovely employees, who steered me in the right direction and have some wonderful blended drinks to try if you aren't ready to dive right in with their ceremonial blend. And on a hot San Diego day, their iced matcha drinks are a fantastic refreshment. (Not to mention the soft serve. And donuts. And now they are serving waffles?? Yes, please.)

And back to that design aesthetic? It's so good. Go for the design, stay for the matcha.

Holy Matcha San Diego

3118 University Avenue SD, CA 92104

Coava Coffee San Diego

Coava Coffee

New to the San Diego coffee scene but an old favorite - for good reason - in the Pacific Northwest, Coava Coffee recently opened in downtown San Diego. They take their coffee seriously here, much to our benefit, and the black paint & wood accents in the shop will make you want to stay and savor their lovely work and quite possibly go back for seconds. Or thirds. Watch your caffeine intake here, my friends.

Coava Coffee

400 West Broadway, SD, CA 92101

Moniker General Exterior.jpg

Moniker Coffee


I go to Moniker for a lot of reasons, but my first visit was because of the general store. It is exquisitely curated. But this is not about the shop (but definitely check out the shop). No, this is about the coffee that is served alongside the shop. My bar for an excellent flat white is one that is the perfect temperature, creamy and strong, yet drinkable straight from the cup without a thought of putting a grain of sugar in it. Their coffee exceeds that standard and keeps me coming back for more. And can we talk about those tiles?

Moniker Coffee | Moniker Group

Liberty Station, Point Loma, SD

Holsem Coffee

If you admire a clean, modern aesthetic like I do, Holsem Coffee is for you. And if you like a strong but smooth cup of coffee paired with a delicious pastry, Holsem Coffee is for you, too. Have I convinced you yet?

I like the vibe of Holsem. It feels like a coffee shop that you might find in the heart of New York City. It's bustling, but quiet, with most people working away on their various devices with headphones in and the world tuned out. But there are also small tables of two or three - friends catching up, colleagues taking a break. Holsem takes the laid back nature of San Diego and elevates it to a cool but casual coffee destination.

Holsem Coffee

2911 University Ave, SD, CA 92104

Coffee & Tea Collective

I LOVE the East Village. As a city girl, it ticks all the right boxes for me. So I'll admit that I haven't been to the Coffee & Tea Collective location in North Park because I prefer to have my caffeine fix here (although I'm sure the other location is lovely).

The mix of materials is what struck me first about this space. Just look at the rough concrete, textured walls, wood benches, and lucite furniture. Once I stopped gawking at the design, I sat down to enjoy a great iced coffee and some of the best avocado toast that I've had in town. (I know I'm repeating myself, but I have to try the avo toast in every shop coffee shop that offers it.)  And what's particularly great here is the people watching: it's large doors open out to the street, and it also shares a space with Consortium Holdings, the force behind some of the biggest restaurants in San Diego.

Coffee & Tea Collective Downtown

631 9th Avenue, SD, CA 92101

All images published above were shot using an iPhone.

On evolving content, consistent style, and Instagram followers

We are nearing the four month mark since we left England and are settling in quite nicely to life on the West Coast. I have taken to San Diego like a fish to water; there are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is the glorious weather (it's no exaggeration how magnificent it is), but it's a bit more complicated than just the increase in vitamin D. Without getting into too much detail (we'll save that for my therapist), let's just say it's the change I needed.

That's not to say that I didn't love England (I did!) or that I don't miss it (I do - just not the rain!), but the lifestyle my family lives means that we are always ready for a new adventure every two or three years. And living in a city in an area of America that I have never lived before is proving to be a wonderful adventure. I've fallen for Southern California.

It should come as no surprise that a move from rural England to urban California means that the types of things I see on a regular basis are very, very different. Gone are the country lanes and thatched roof cottages.  Gone are the quaint village scenes and the dramatic, bucolic vistas. They have been replaced by the Spanish architecture and gardens of Balboa Park; the hip coffee shop, restaurant, and boutique scene; the majestic views of the Pacific Ocean; the eclectic architecture of SoCal.

When it comes to photography, and particularly Instagram, my content has always been centered around what I see on a daily basis - whether it was while walking around the villages of Hampshire or while traveling through Europe with my family. The images I share are typically place-oriented, no matter where that place is, and my style is (hopefully) conveyed through how a photo is framed, lit, and edited.

Leaving England, I was aware that there would be a noticeable shift in my Instagram posts.  They would still be place-based, but that place would likely be more urban than rural, and the posts would feature more interior images, a skill that I have been wanting to hone and improve upon.  Despite this content shift, my goal has always been to maintain my style - my photographic signature - and to maintain a focus on what I'm truly passionate about, namely design and architecture.

And there is the tie, the commonality that I hope bridges the thatched cottage to the mid-century modern house. As a lover of design, I appreciate both of these styles, recognizing the value that each brought to the built environment and landscape of the eras in which they were developed. And while my personal style may prefer one over the other, my goal is to convey a universal appreciation for each.

Now not everyone has that same appreciation, and that's okay. Lovers of the English countryside may not dig the California vibe. I get that. So I'm riding the evolution of my Instagram following - both the highs and lows - with a bit of ease. I'm hoping those that stick around do so because through the shift in content, they can see that my style remains the same. That's not to say I won't be experimenting with and refining that style, but I have no plans to veer too far off course.  So thanks to those who are riding that evolution with me, and hello to the newcomers - I hope you continue to stick around.

Summer in the exquisite Balboa Park.

Summer in the exquisite Balboa Park.