Where Have I Been All My Life? Part 2
In my one-week quest to rejoin the hipster world, if only briefly, I enjoyed another outing today (two in one week!). This time, the backdrop was coffee. Not just coffee, but coffee culture.
If I had time to indulge my most unessential passion, I would become a coffee connoisseur. I was asked a question on a quiz once: What’s your favorite beverage? After a heroic battle with wine, coffee triumphed. I can’t imagine enjoying those quiet moments at dawn, when the possibilities of the entire day lay ahead, without a steaming mug of strong coffee warming my hands. As it rises up, the steam molds a hopeful smile onto my face and fortifies me as I emerge into full, enthusiastic consciousness. Besides that, it tastes good!
I, in my former life, listened to a coffee podcast to learn the tiniest intricacies of the bean, from farm to roaster to cup. It was, at once, absurdly specific and undeniably intriguing. Did you know they have worldwide barista competitions? I mean, people take this seriously. And I was following them. It was kind of embarrassing to be so interested in something so mundane, but there I was. I had even researched the finest machine a busy home brewer should own: a combo burr grinder (it’s a thing), timer, and coffee maker in one. You get barista fresh coffee every morning without setting foot into the cold morning air.
Given this penchant for all things coffee, I was rather looking forward to experiencing Cafe Moto, a coffee bar in the gritty Barrio Logan. These folks understand coffee beans like a sommelier understands grapes. They source fair trade and often organic beans, roast them onsite, and produce a small but marvelous menu of serious beverages. They are happy to customize anything for you in any way you require. They understand your obsession.
My mom, not a coffee fan, but a great supporter of cream and sugar and a champion of foam, asked for a recommendation. She was presented with a latte. She, of the delicate palate, pronounced it smooth and the latte art on top delightful. She also raved about the cold brew coffee which you can sample over ice. Curious about a new (to me) brewing method, I tasted it as well. It is so smooth, without a tickle of bitterness, that it almost isn’t coffee at all. My mom aptly describes it as Kahlua without the sweet.
I ordered a plain cup of coffee. I don’t normally add cream (and never add sugar) but I was also getting a croissant (they get their baked goods from Bread & Cie so it was a mandatory accompaniment) and it just sounded good together. It was. A balanced, distinct coffee flavor charged through the rich cream. Importantly, it was heated enough to tolerate the dilution and remain pleasantly hot.
Beyond actual liquid coffee, Cafe Moto has whole beans and a warehouse full of coffee gear for sale. From assorted glass jars to cappuccino cups to these great steamer pipe cleaners. I picked one up to clean the stainless steel straws my kids use.
Cafe Moto is a fun, funky, place that doesn’t seem to be putting on an act. It has heavily industrial decor punctuated by fresh flowers on every metal table. There is a concrete floor, exposed equipment, and just general coolness that this suburban mom doesn’t get to enjoy enough anymore. The staff were kind enough not to be snobby to one so clearly more in touch with dry cleaners than coffee bars. They were generous with their knowledge and seemed to genuinely enjoy their work. It’s enough to launch you into a “Why don’t we do this more often?” lament, complete with promises to meet back there, same time next week.
Gather at the bar, open your laptop at a table, or sit outside at a tiny sidewalk seat, it doesn’t really matter. It’s all about the coffee.
2619 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113