The best coffee shops in San Diego to work or study

The best coffee shops in San Diego to work or study
Photo by Rachel Claire on

If you’re seeking cute coffee shops in San Diego to study in or get some work done, then your hunt has come to an end. While the library or the office might be an optimal place to grind in peace, we sometimes need a fresh vibe to get our productive juices flowing.

It’s time to put aside the laid-back beach lifestyle for a few hours. Sip on an iced craft coffee while you make a to-do list and set up your laptop.

Finding a cafe equipped with outlets, seating, and amazing coffee can prove tricky, especially during a pandemic. It’s even trickier to track down a coffee shop with snacks to fuel your workday and an aesthetic that puts you in a productive mood. Bonus points for a chill playlist that motivates without unnecessary distraction (maybe some yacht rock or Phoebe Bridgers?).

We scoured every neighborhood in San Diego for the perfect coffee shops to fit the bill. And we’ve got to admit that So Cal’s highway-studded jewel knows what the people want when it comes to an alternative milk coffee and cute interior design. Read on to find the perfect spot to get caffeinated, send emails and do your math homework. For the locals: Lestat’s is not included, because everyone already knows Lestat’s.

Better Buzz Coffee

Hillcrest location or nothing, friends. Better Buzz Coffee, a beloved San Diego institution for caffeination and breakfast treats, sports sleek modern interiors warmed by dark wood and offers ample comfy seating. It’s an open and inviting space with more outlets than any other coffee shop in San Diego (we didn’t count, but we’re 90% sure of this) and calm energy perfect for a few hours of hitting the books. Despite having multiple locations and lots of seating, be prepared for a crowd.

In terms of the drinks, Better Buzz is known for being a bit too sweet for some. If that isn’t your coffee style, then you’ll need to request less sweetener. But those who opt out when it comes to sugar don’t need to worry. They have purist drinks, killer espresso and more.

Favorites include the Rose Water Latte, a creamy coffee scattered with crushed rose petals fit for Instagram or TikTok, Orange Infused Matcha made with coconut milk and Avocado Toast stuffed with nutrients and flavor.

Yerba Mate Bar & Empanadas

While this Pacific Beach spot might not be a coffee shop, at least in name, Yerba Mate Bar & Empanadas offers an impressive selection of lattes (made with either Yerba or a shot of espresso). And who wouldn’t want to try housemade empanadas while studying on an outdoor patio surrounded by plants? The simple, contemporary design makes for a beautiful place to finish up your marketing proposal or English class reading.

The best part about Yerba Mate Bar & Empanadas is that the outdoor patio is an enclosed space, so you’re not distracted by the commotion of the street, but the ceiling opens up to a view of San Diego’s blue skies. White walls accented by earthy orange tones and creative seating arrangements allow for a range of ways to study or work, whether you prefer a conventional table and chair or reclined seating perfect for finishing a good book.

Favorites include the lavender latte, any of the freshly baked empanadas and the pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese balls).

Moniker Coffee

Liberty Station is meant for a chill Sunday to study, stroll and pick up some groceries. Moniker Coffee’s white tiled floor and modern industrial space highlighted by art pieces and plants exude studious hipster. Aside from the cafe’s seating area, Moniker also offers a store stocked with clothing and home and lifestyle accessories.

There’s bar seating, walls lined with tables, couches, benches and a back patio. Though a popular cafe, Moniker usually has lots of available seating. Moniker might win when it comes to outdoor studying because of the plentiful outlets.

Favorites include the iced Viennese coffee and the Hawaiian matcha.

Garden Coffee

San Diego’s Old Town hides an adorable coffee shop adorned with plants and colorful decor. You’ll never get bored of studying at Garden Coffee since they change the menu all the time. And, unlike many places, the menu changes don’t disappoint or annoy loyal customers. The experimental beverages and tasty pastries will fuel your study session for sure. Where better to have a remote meeting than the outdoor patio or the gazebo?

Favorites include absolutely everything.

Communal Coffee North Park

Communal Coffee embodies spring. The lovely airy atmosphere will cleanse you of stress and turn a chore into a well-spent morning. Need extra creativity to write that essay? Want to feel a bit fancy without fuss? Communal Coffee is for you. While the South Park location is more suited to a weekend afternoon with friends, the North Park location is great for getting your work out of the way.

Infused with a diverse portfolio of florals, the drink menu includes coffee, alcoholic beverages and other miscellaneous drinks like seasonal lemonade. They also dish out some delicious vegan fare that will appeal to everyone from hungry college students and chattering friend groups to tired workers and families. Indoor or outdoor? It’s your choice.

Favorites include the specialty rose vanilla latte, the flower spritz Prosecco and the mango mint chia bowl.

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