Unlike the small businesses of the Centro, this district was dominated by high-rises of banks, hospitals, and office spaces. I couldn’t tell if it was all the coffee we had consumed but Jethro looked jittery and very exited. We stopped at a curious looking building; it was Alberto Song’s Caffe Sospeso. The first thing I saw were towering Yama drippers, a brew bar on the left, and an espresso bar to the right. This café is spacious and calm, a place where doctors and bankers take a coffee break.

Alberto is motivated by quality, experimentation, and education. As a member of the Coffee Quality Institute, he understands the factors that affect quality and are later translated in the cupping room. His participation with CQI has taken him to Africa, South America, and Central America. This obsession over quality and traveling to origin began with Alberto’s visits to Mexico’s Chiapas coffee-growing regions in 1997. Now he roasts small batches on a San Franciscan, just behind the brew bar, and origins are rotated every fifteen days.

I had the pleasure to indulge in two different coffees, both brewed with a V60. The coffees were presented in shot glasses set on custom wooden trays, reminiscent of a mezcal tasting flight. I was given a washed Kenya Gatomboya that exhibited a lively acidity with sweet molasses aroma. Also in the tasting flight was a natural Sidamo, with rich and clean notes of blueberry and tangerine. This same Sidamo was also extracted via Yama dripper and sold in a fabulous bottle. This cold-brew blew my mind and palate! It was intoxicatingly blueberry and the sweetness was liquor-like and oh-so-smooth.

In the near future San Diegans will be able to buy Sospeso’s beans and brews without crossing the border when Sospeso becomes the first specialty coffee roaster from Tijuana to expand to San Diego.

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