The entire neighborhood of Bird Rock, not just the namesake Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, was entirely off my radar until San Diego native Giselle Wellman shed light on a previously unexplored component of her city’s culinary culture: specialty coffee. The Petrossian West Hollywood executive chef directed me to Zumbar Coffee in Sorrento Valley, and to the bucolic Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, which former English professor Chuck Patton and wife Elke opened in 2007 after graduating from selling beans at area farmers markets.
The Bird Rock space is open air, with a roll up garage door, reclaimed wood accents, bench and table seating. The establishment also contains a glass fronted lab, and a Giesen coffee roaster. Premium equipment includes a La Marzocco Strada three-group espresso machine, Mazzer grinders, and a pourover bar.
My first Espresso ($2.15) incorporated two Sidamos and displayed high acidity.
Kenya Ngunguru, a single origin espresso, was even brighter.
Barista Chris O’Brien was the espresso technician during my visit to Bird Rock.
A balanced Cold Brew ($2.25) featured beans from Ethiopia’s Yukro Cooperative.
The menu features a few unconventional choices. Cannonball is undiluted cold brew, Sugar Daddy is a Mexican mocha, and Trophy Wife is macadamia nut latte. Sugar Daddies and Trophy Wives in a ritzy town like La Jolla? Unlikely, I know.
Of course a coffee roaster sells bagged beans. What’s less certain is a company’s commitment to educating customers. Bird Rock’s efforts include posting photos of farmers on the walls and hosting Public Cuppings at 10:30 a.m. on Fridays. Sure, it’s rewarding enough to get good coffee, but I appreciate that the Pattons spotlight the product’s provenance.