Coffee & Tea Collective

North Park: 2911 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

East Village: 631 9th Ave, San Diego, CA

The Ampersand. I’ve grown to love this curvy punctuation mark. It looks like a little man sitting on his bum and looking down at his feet &. I’ve been using this a lot lately – so much so that the word “and” has been placed on my ‘endangered punctuation’ lists. I’ve recently recovered from my hype and toned that down a bit though. Not going to lie, that’s a big draw to this coffee house for me. The ampersand. I’m a huge fan of how C & T Collective and James Coffee Co. don’t bother with putting the full name. They just put up a sign. For James Coffee Co. it’s an owl. For C & T it’s just the ampersand. Visually appealing but their coffee is also amazing so let’s talk about that.

Some toast, Ethiopia, latte, and good company

Pictured above is the best of…three worlds. Coffee, Lattes, and their Toast! There are times I sit at home with an actual craving for toast specifically from C & T Collective. It’s just sooo bomb! Pictured above is some regular sourdough toast with butter, but they also have an amazing cinnamon sugar toast and at their East Village location, they have an avocado toast and this other one – the name slips my mind – but it’s soft and smothered in a sweet jam. Funny story about the above picture:

I went to this location with my friend Karis. On the way there I got distracted looking for it on my left off El Cajon Blvd. I found it and pointed at it excitedly to Karis, “There it is! With the ampersand!” Just like that, I ran a red light and nearly cost us our lives, and I’m not even exaggerating. I had to swerve and a car had to slam his breaks to not crush my poor passenger. That was the first time I ran a red light. But God protected us and we got to enjoy our toast!

I’ve been to the North Park locations maybe 5 times total. One such time was with my sister when she came down to visit me. She took some candids for fun below.

Against the white wall at the North Park location

But they recently opened up their East Village location and I was stoked. I went there the very first day they opened their shop and was among some of the first customers! I wasn’t aware that they shared the space with a juice bar, Juice Saves. I found it quite an interesting collaboration but it works. I haven’t tried any of their juices but I sure plan to. There seems to be a good amount of traffic there. Personally, I’d rather throw my money at $3-$4 coffees than an $8 juice – despite the health benefits. I wish I snagged a picture of the outside and inside of the store rather than just of my latte art on some sort of generator next to my parking spot….

Outside of the new East Village location

I love their coffee and vibe and all that jazz, but my personal opinion? Not a huge fan of the ambiance. My friend Karis prefers it to the North Park location but I’m a fan of the NP location. They’re imitating a similar vibe to that of James Coffee Co. (Similar, but nowhere near as awesome – sorry). It’s retro. Definitely cool looking. But I mean, I would never go here to study or hang out. They just haven’t optimized the space they have. Seating is limited and the width of their coffee bar is too thin to sustain a whole load of books and laptops. I’ve been to the East Village location twice and both times I dropped in with a to-go order. The ambiance thing is really just a preference issue and I know a lot of people are stoked on the environment and style to a much greater degree than I am. One thing they’ve got going for them too: good looking baristas 😉

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