San Diego Joe

a coffee blog


Coffee, Rock Stars & Film Blunders—Oh my!

Here’s a time lapse short of roasting organic Colombian beans with roast master David Kennedy. He, in addition to his Dad and Brother, run a small batch coffee company based out of Poway, CA called James Coffee Co. They currently have an online store as well as attend local events from time to time.

In fact, it was his participation in the second Coffee For A Cause event in March 2013, benefiting the EOD Warrior Foundation, that I first made his acquaintance. He was a little unsure about making his public debut in coffee, so of course we made him the first station as the crowds poured in the door (you’re welcome). He and his Father handled it like pros and he made more than a few fans that day; locals and fellow roasters alike.

Sadly, on this occasion, because it was my first time filming, I accidentally filmed our whole interview in time lapse on mute. Epic fail.

However, it would be hard for a film novice such as myself to visually translate just how thrilling it was to see the seed of the coffee cherry go from a pale sage green to an earthy brown. Or what it was like to finally hear the first crack of the coffee beans rather than just read about it.

And the aroma… No video has scratch and sniff technology anyway, so I don’t know if there was a way to allow you to really get the full experience even if I were a film guru. Just reaffirms that there is no substitution for first hand experience.

David poured me a fresh mug once the beans had cooled enough to brew up with his Hario pour over system. We sat for what seemed like hours at a table he made in his metal works shop talking about everything; life, family, health, personal endeavors…

The freshly roasted Colombian sweetened as it cooled; we noted between childhood memories of growing up surrounded by family in small town America. David recommended being aware of how the coffee would change over the next four days.

About the fourth day, it had reached perfection. So good. Up until this moment, I had no idea coffee changed a little in the few days after being roasted. I knew if you waited too long, it definitely changed, but not that there was a “settling” period after roasting. You live and you learn.

I must confess, I’m happy that I didn’t have any foreknowledge of Angels & Airwaves popularity, or even that he was a musician before doing the interview. And the answer is YES, I live in an undisclosed location deep beneath the Earth’s crust. There’s no YouTube or MTV down there. Wait, is MTV still on? Do they play music or just so-called “reality” shows about pregnant teens?

"Hi, my name is Jessica, I love coffee and occasionally kicking it with Rock Stars."

I can hear my Sister, Ann, audibly calling me a DORK. It’s weird. I’ve seen the videos now. The music’s good. Really good. But David is still just David Kennedy the new Roaster in town, who has a metal works shop that fondly reminds me of my Grandpa’s workshop, who works on motorcycles, use to race them and created a cool roasting room encased in glass out of salvaged doors (seriously cool stuff).

Being a musician is just one part of the picture. He’s like an old friend you see when you go back home who has a lot of different irons in the fire and is just super chill to hang or whatever.

And like a friend, David has encouraged me to give this film making endeavor another take, so you can expect to see more of him and hear more about what he’s roasting up in the future. He’s definitely building local buzz around his coffee from people, who like me, know him only as the new roaster on the block.

Until next time my coffee loving friends, remember to tip your Baristas and stay classy San Diego!

Suspended Coffee in San Diego?

Suspended coffee is now available in San Diego! For those not familiar with the concept read this recent post outlining the practice sweeping the nation.


Where can one commit this simple act of kindness? Currently, at either the Poway Farmer’s Market on Saturdays or at the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market on Sundays. Just look for Robin Sherman (below) and the colorful banner on her mobile coffee house that reads DIVINE MADMAN COFFEE!


So what happens if you buy a suspended coffee and it doesn’t get used the same day you might ask? Easy. Robin gives you a choice at the time you purchase: You can have it carry-over to the next market or at days end designate it to go in The Fund For Animals donation can she has at her booth. Either way, you’ll spread the warm and fuzzies or it will go to the warm and fuzzies.

I’m a huge fan of suspended coffee. If your cafe or coffee house has adopted this pay it forward act of kindness, contact me. I’d love to let San Diego know!

Caffe Calabria. A romantic journey any day of the week. TGIF!

Caffe Calabria. A romantic journey any day of the week. TGIF!

Thanks for the submission David! The first photo to go on my virtual coffee house walls. I almost forgot I had an Open Mic page! If you have art, poetry, prose or music (has to be your own) you’d like to share, please do. Coffee luv xox
Four. Photo By David Hanjani

Thanks for the submission David! The first photo to go on my virtual coffee house walls. I almost forgot I had an Open Mic page! If you have art, poetry, prose or music (has to be your own) you’d like to share, please do. Coffee luv xox

Four. Photo By David Hanjani

Sunday Sunday…La, la, la-la-la…

If you’ve been living in San Diego oblivious to the triumph of fresh, often organic produce available to you at your neighborhood Farmer’s Markets, consider this your wake up and avoid the colon cancer call.

Hillcrest Farmer’s Market just jumped to the top of my favorite markets to shop for several reasons. As many of you know, I’ve had to radically change my diet due to a number of food intolerances, but as you may not know, my dietary requirements for quality, fresh produce has increased since I discovered I have an autoimmune disease that is more successfully managed through diet.

As soon as I entered the market from Washington St., Divine Madman Coffee and GreenFix Organic Smoothie welcomed me with open arms and bright smiles. Two of my favorite things side by side? It’s like receiving a ginormo hug from the Universe and it’s not awkward even if it lingers a bit too long.

Usually I’m immediately greeted by some gluten infused crepe or panini stand taunting me with its savory sweet goodness. No offense, but damn you BREADIES!!!

The only thing taunting me when I entered the market this time was a guy in a “Kiss Me I’m Certified Organic” t-shirt with sample shots of freshly pureed raw, organic fruit and veggie smoothies. Yes please! So good. What’s better is I can purchase a large jug, which saves me juicing time and ingredients for part of the week at home. Double—yes please!

And just a few stands down between the luscious strawberries, fresh sunflowers and lavish carrot and radish displays is Asana Natural Foods Co. selling organic, vegan, gluten free non-gmo almond butter infused with vanilla, maca powder and himalayan salt (tastes so good on crisp apples). Sorry peanut butter, this girls got a new lover!

All I have to say at this point, is thank GAWD I haven’t had to say NO to coffee. In fact, it turns out that coffee is a friend to my particular immune disorder, so it is no wonder that I enjoy it so much. Robin Sherman of Divine Madman coffee sells quality organic, freshly roasted, shade grown (bird friendly) whole beans, and I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that she was our FIRST stop on Sunday.

Robin has been roasting for nearly seven years in San Diego. She credits her Grandmother’s wooden spoon, which she utilizes during roasting for knowing when the beans are roasted to perfection. I highly recommend picking up her Honey Boubon, which smells truly divine. It’s round, rich with a hint of caramelized sugar.

I also recommend the Amaro Gayo she carries from Ethiopia. It is the first specifically sourced from Ethiopia’s only female miller/exporter according to the Ladies at InterAmerican Coffee (Formerly Elan Organic Coffee); San Diego’s green coffee importer. It lives up to the berry-licious nature of many Amaro Gayo beans and also has an amazing nose. I’ve been enjoying both this past week.

Oh, and if you don’t have a grinder at home, she has a commercial grinder on hand to grind for the brewing method of choice, so just let her know what you use at home.

Next time you’re at the market stop by and talk coffee with Robin. At $9 for an 8 oz. bag of whole beans, her consciously sourced coffee is a steal! Now that I know she’s there, you just might see me hovering.

Until next time, be sure to check out the plethora of wonderful Farmer’s Markets in San Diego, and as always, Happy Coffee-ing!

My new favorite mug and my latest #coffee discovery; Divine Madman Coffee. This berry delicious Amaro Gayo is not only organic and grown sustainably, it is grown completely by a women’s cooperative in Ethiopia. How cool is that for acting locally and thinking globally? You can pick up these locally roasted gems at the Poway Farmers Market on Saturdays, or the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Sundays. Cheers!

My new favorite mug and my latest #coffee discovery; Divine Madman Coffee. This berry delicious Amaro Gayo is not only organic and grown sustainably, it is grown completely by a women’s cooperative in Ethiopia. How cool is that for acting locally and thinking globally? You can pick up these locally roasted gems at the Poway Farmers Market on Saturdays, or the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Sundays. Cheers!


On May 10, 2013, I was invited to cup 20 of the coffees chosen at the Cup of Excellence in Colombia with the Ladies at Elan/InterAmerican Coffee in Downtown San Diego. Joining in the experience were John of Caffe Calabria and David of James Coffee Co. It was a fun experience and of course we agreed on a few, and agreed to disagree on a few others. But cupping 20 coffees at once was quite a feat for moi. Can you say palate overload? Thanks Yesenia, Sheridan, Kika, and Kayd for putting up with the rookie in the house. It was definitely a memorable experience.

I apologize it has taken me this long to figure out how to make a proper video complete with soundtrack. But now that I know how, watch out world!!! ;D

Love Boobies Almost as Much as You Love Coffee?

Local San Diego Roaster James Coffee Co. does! Catch David Kennedy (below) and family serving up some freshly roasted small batch coffee this Sunday, May 26th in Encinitas. 

Drop in from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the Keep A Breast POP UP SHOP Coffee Tasting and Old Fashioned Bake Sale at UNIV Garage: 1057A South Coast Hwy, Encinitas, CA 92024.

Oh and if coffee, insulin pumping sweet treats and saving the Boobies isn’t good enough for ya, they have DJ Cute Boobs in the hiz-house, or rather Her-house. Enjoy!

Cupping vs. Tasting

I was invited downtown earlier this month to InterAmerican better known as Elan Organic Coffees to “cup” the top twenty coffees selected from Colombia this year for their Cup of Excellence. While I was downtown, I snapped a few shots of the historic Wheel Works Building and thought I’d share them with you.

Often times Cupping is confused with Tasting, so I thought I’d write a quick post on the differences. Cupping is what Roasters and Importers (Buyers) of coffee do to determine whether the coffee has arrived untainted as well as to discover the characteristics and quality of a coffee and whether they wish to purchase it. Cupping is not for everyone. While it has been helpful in deepening my understanding of coffee, I personally prefer Coffee Tasting over Cupping.

First off Cupping takes a lot of concentration and meditative thought, and timing is crucial, so it doesn’t allow a lot of time for socializing. Also, if you’re just learning to slurp properly, in all likelihood you will end up choking like you’re drowning; essentially all the cool points go out the window. It’s definitely NOT first date material for anyone thinking it might be a fun experience to have with a ‘special’ friend. Most likely you’ll just end up sticking your nose in it (literally), and hacking like a fool. So if you’re keen on giving it a go, I suggest you go with others who are interested in experiencing the industry side of things; others who will still love you after seeing your eyes bulge and water whilst coughing up a lung.

Now that you’ve been informed, many local Roasters offer Cuppings by appointment for their potential clients and customers alike, so it is an experience available to you and it will definitely deepen your understanding of how coffee is chosen and origin, but if you want something that is brewed or pulled from a machine, you should ask if the Roasters hold Tastings and when the next consumer/customer oriented Tasting Event will take place.

Tasting events usually focus on brew method in order to reveal different characteristics in the coffees being prepared. The key here is that the coffees are brewed before you taste them. A key difference from cupping. Tastings are also more akin to a wine tasting event, where you get to talk about what you’re tasting and socialize with friends. This can be especially fun when pairing coffee with gourmet biscotti or gourmet hand crafted chocolates. In some instances, coffees are paired with cheeses, like what you would expect if at a wine tasting, so the tasting is sure to yield some eye-opening experiences.

Whether you wish to Cup or Taste, I wish you happy coffee-ing!

Ending The Coffee-Wine Divide


Since I began searching for great coffee as an alternative to Starbucks and Coffee Bean, which are the more visible chains in Southern California, I’ve been very successful at finding exactly what I set out to find. And thankful for it. What I didn’t set out to do on my consumer centered journey was end my previous relationship with coffee, which really was a relationship with cream and sugar, not coffee. In fact, when my Dad poured my first cup of coffee I would openly joke about liking a little coffee with my cream and sugar.

In those days, “coffee” was defined as anything you’d pull off the supermarket shelf labeled as such, or the late night coffee available at Denny’s long before they introduced clubs for teens. We could stay out late and talk all night with a group of friends without needing a designated driver. That freedom on top of all the caffeine, was a great high in and of itself. I know, I’m a cheap date.

When I went off to college at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, my dependency and expectations would climb a few notches. I spent many nights studying in Stuart’s Coffee House in Downtown Bellingham sipping latte after latte and mocha after mocha. I eventually discovered I liked the taste of coffee with a ‘little’ sweet always asking for less and less sugar until lattes and cappuccinos without sugar became my favorite.

Fast forward 10 years, and I found myself a home owner in San Diego County. I also found that I no longer desired to continue climbing the corporate ladder in the Financial Industry. So I started a blog, really as an experiment to learn about online marketing. What I found was that I not only loved taking pictures and writing about the ‘feel’ or experience of a particular cafe or coffee house, but it seems others were interested in reading about it too, or at least looking at the pictures (that’s okay, I just buy a new pillow after the screaming and crying fits). I picked coffee because I selfishly wanted alternatives and I refused to believe that San Diego was devoid of Coffee Houses or Mom & Pops that could make grabbing coffee feel and taste like it did when I lived in the Northwest. I’ve been more than pleasantly surprised at my findings.

This new examination of coffee, especially at the Roaster level, meant I had to educate myself on what is necessary to get the best out of the coffee I was taking home in order to give each a fair shake. Also, sustainably grown fair trade specialty coffee tends to be more expensive than store bought coffee and I didn’t want to waste it, but also I honestly wanted to know what goes into brewing coffee so I could have the same taste experience at home.

Proper brewing meant paying attention to a few things: Seasonality, the date roasted, storage, grind, water quality, and water temperature as well as the specific brewing instructions for each choice of brewing mechanism whether a Hario Pour Over or traditional French Press. Just as Roasters taste or cup each coffee they decide to buy and offer their clientele, it was necessary to start tasting the coffee, not just tasting it but examining it in terms of aroma, acidity, body and finish, much like those who taste wine do.

And in the same way, I began a journey of understanding coffees by region, just as there are wines from Australia, such as Shiraz, there are coffees from Indonesia, such as Sumatra. Wines are often described for the type of grape used and beans are described by origin, process, and often times the farmer or farming cooperatives who produce it. Just as certain grapes take on certain qualities depending on the elevation and  environment in which they are grown, coffee cherries also respond in terms of taste to these variables.

With this new journey and understanding, I began to forge a new mind-palate connection, and to do so I had to THINK about what I was smelling, tasting and feeling on my palate. What I found is that once you taste an amazing shot of espresso (minus cream or sugar), your whole consciousness on what you like about coffee shifts. The same goes for a wonderful pour over, just like tasting a superb Petite Syrah, your brain, whether you like it or not, automatically creates a standard on which all others must now be measured.

Your personal preferences in coffee, just like wine, emerge. You realize that while you like chocolate, caramel and berry notes in your coffees, others may not share your preferences. Others may like earthy, tobacco notes in their coffees and will never be happy with natural processed Ethiopian coffees, for instance, with their natural infusion from the coffee cherry of berry flavors. Just like I appreciate jammy, fruit-forward reds with a spicy or smooth finish, others like reds with earthy mineral qualities or hate reds and will only drink white.

This is why I may seem to clam-up when someone asks me, “Who serves the best coffee or shot of espresso in San Diego?” The truth is, only the taster can answer that question for themselves. I can give you a few places to try, but ultimately, you may decide you like the more European style espresso served at Caffe Calabria over the edgy espresso blend that might add a little Ethiopian into the mix at Coffee & Tea Collective resulting in a shot of espresso with nuanced berry notes. I may love the latter and you think it’s weird, and that’s okay.

In the same way, I may not want to drink any “Fucking Merlot" and reach for the Syrah and Pinot every time. You may say you only like late harvest white wines like Rieslings, and I may only drink red, but as I learned at the Le Metro Wine Underground kick-off this past month via my hosts Uva Buena Fine Wines and Protocol Wine Studios, who curated a collection of wines that completely turned what I ‘thought’ I liked on its head, I would encourage you, to find someone you trust in coffee and keep an open mind.

Many of you may not know that coffee has peak timelines shorter than the peak timelines for drinking certain wines, that is why seeking out someone who can speak to seasonality in coffee is so important. If you don’t know what is meant by that, it is likely that what you ‘think’ you like in coffee is about to change. Simply by hitting up a local roaster who concerns themselves with this alone, you are likely to have some eye-opening tasting experiences. Likely, if they’re concerned with seasonality, they’re concerned with the farming practices that produced the quality bean they are offering for sale to you. Once people find what they like, they can be fiercely loyal, and that’s okay too.

But I will leave you with this. At one time in my life there were a lot of things I didn’t like and it took a very special foodie friend of mine to prove to me that if I just stay open-minded and agree to try something new or prepared in a new way, I might be pleasantly surprised. This was a leap of faith that I am fortunate enough to say has resulted in some of the most memorable dining experiences of my life…

I would like to talk about closing the coffee-wine divide when it comes to cost too, but I think if you keep an open mind and set out on your own journey to search out great coffees, you’ll also experience a consciousness shift on what you’re willing to pay for coffee that automatically makes the moment you sip it memorable even if the rest of your day is not…

Until next time, I wish you adventure and discovery on your own journey, happy coffee-ing my friends! xox