I’ve had kind of a love and hate relationship with coffee the past few months. I like to have coffee, but for awhile, I was unable to have it at all. It really tended to tie my stomach up in knots and drinking a cup of coffee made my stomach unhappy for a whole day. I laid off the stuff for awhile until I started taking probotics on a regular basis to help ease my stomach woes. I’m happy to say and coffee and I are friends again.
It was fortuitous then that I was invited to come to Kona Coffee Company in Hillcrest to try out what they had to offer. I was still a little wary of coffee at this point, but I had slowly started to partake of the fragrant beverage again and was hoping my stomach would be amieable enough for the ride. Jake and T were with me for this particular adventure. Jake isn’t a fan of coffee really and neither are most teenagers (T included). But I was hoping there would be enough here for them as well and happily there was.
We had a small snafu in the beginning as the manager gave me a blank look when I told her why we were there. But, after everything got cleared up, we were well taken care of. I let the manager make us whatever she wanted us to try.
[Outside of Kona Coffee Company from across the street]
The Kona Coffee Company in Hillcrest is one of the few shops in town that will offer you a 100% Kona coffee (french pressed for you, no less). They also offer 35% Kona blend at a lower price. I started off the day with the blend.
[35% Kona Coffee Blend]
I kept it simple and added milk and Splenda to my coffee. I’m not good at describing coffee flavors, but this had a bold and somewhat rich flavor. It wasn’t too bitter tasting with just one package of Splenda in this large mix of coffee which I liked.
[Hawaiian Mocha – espresso, milk, Ghirardelli chocolate, banana, coconut flavor, ground cinnamon and topped with whipped cream, coconut flakes and a sprinkle of cinnamon]
I’ve never had a mocha quite like this one – this one goes beyond just a dash of chocolate in your coffee drink! This is filled with intense flavors, giving the mocha a very tropical taste and feeling with the coconut and banana flavors in the mix. It’s also quite sweet – the mix of flavors and chocolate made this a rich, chocolately drink – enough to make you forget that it even has any espresso in the mix. The cinnamon rounds out the flavor nicely giving it a nice heat and spice that I really enjoyed. Jake and T also enjoyed this one, so it was winner for the coffee and non-coffee drinkers alike.
[Vanilla Latte – espresso, milk, vanilla and foam]
The Vanilla Latte was a little bit more to my liking. It was not nearly as sweet as the exotic Hawaiian Mocha. Jake and T tried it but didn’t like it as much so I happily had this one mostly to myself. I love foam for some reason. I don’t really know why. The vanilla here has a nice note of flavor to it, not overpowering the drink but scenting and flavoring the drink.
To my surprise, at this point we got sandwiches!
I couldn’t really tell from their menu that they even offered sandwiches so it was a nice surprise and I’m pretty sure my stomach thanked me, since I hadn’t eaten yet.
This sandwich was made on a plain, warmed bagel with ham and egg. The egg tasted (and looked) freshly made and the ham was also heated up along with the bagel. A solid sandwich. Nothing really ground breaking here with this one, but it sure tasted better than anything you’d get from a fast food window.
We also got it on a crossiant! I preferred the bagel sandwich just because I like the firmness of the bagel a bit more. I tend to eat my crossiants with nothing in them (or, filled with chocolate…)
Jake also requested this “Strawberries and Cream” blended drink. It reminds me of that frappuccino one from Starbucks but I think this one is better. It has swirls of chocolate and caramel mixed in with the blended strawberries. This this is like a dessert! I love that you can see the swirls of chocolate and caramel in the sides.
T also ordered a “Mango Fusion” smoothie, but the photo didn’t come out very well. I only had one little sip and it tasted like you were eating a blended, whipped up mango. T loved it.
The boys also picked out some pastries from their bakery case. The manager told us that the cookies and pastries were from Bread and Cie. On the left is a chocolate dipped coconut macaroon and on the right is a cherry filled pastry.
I don’t remember the actual name of the cherry filled thing. Pastry seems sufficient.
I had nibbles of each. My tummy was starting to full from the sloshing of coffee that was in my belly. And yet… I still had one more drink to go!
100% Kona coffee, coming right up!
I can’t belive this, but I actually drank this straight and black. And it was actually good, especially after I had a bite of coconut macaroon to go along with a sip. The manager told me that Kona coffee is a very low acid coffee and is good for people who have stomach woes (like me). I liked it a lot, even black, though I think if I hadn’t been eating some of that delicious cookie I would have had to add something to it to lighten it up. But paired with something already sweet, the coffee and the cookie balanced each other out quite well.
Another kind of fun story I learned about this coffee shop is that it used to just serve regular old coffee. After a visit to Hawaii, the owner came back to San Diego and was determined to transform her shop into a cofee shop that sold Kona Coffee. They shut down for a few weeks as they remodeled the shop, bringing in decorations that the owner obtained in Hawaii and reopening as the Kona Coffee Company. Cute story!
Disclaimer: I was invited on behalf of BAM! Communication to come in and try the food. All food and drinks were complimentary. I was not paid for this review and, as always, all opinions are my own.
Kona Coffee Company
3995 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92113
6 thoughts on “kona coffee company / hillcrest – san diego, ca”
That’s a lot of coffee to drink in one visit! I love a good cup of coffee – to me, that’s one that I can drink black without it being bitter or harsh. Having said that, I still drink my morning coffee with a splash of milk.
Isn’t it weird when you show up at a place and no one knows why you’re there? I always feel awkward trying to explain that I was sent by some PR people and they were supposed to coordinate something.
Yeah, it sure was A LOT of coffee. I paced myself and didn’t drink all of it though. The 100% Kona was the first coffee I had totally black – and it wasn’t too bitter (just a tad) so I really liked it. I’d probably have it with milk another time though.
And yeah, I hate the awkwardness of trying to explain why you’re there. Happened to me this week, too! And it was extra awkward because the manager didn’t know and then sort of questioned me about it (but in a nice way, if that makes any sense)… uncomfortable!
We used to get KCC’s peaberry coffee beans years ago (certainly not cheap). The peaberry bean is so smooth and is the only kind of coffee that I can drink black, if I have to.
That last coffee I had was smooth enough that it didn’t quite need anything, but I’d normally still want some milk in it at least! It’s nice to find a coffee that has less acidity and bitterness to it.
I found this little place across from my hotel while in town for a business trip.
The coffee was EXCELLENT as was the service. Very friendly and personable. San Diego is a friendly town to start with but Kona puts it over the top. I stopped in early Monday morning and for the rest of the week the most beautiful and friendly young lady remembered me (Kona Blend with room for lots of cream). That made me feel special while I was away from home…2000 miles away from home. She made my week.
Hi Mike – Glad you hear you had a great experience! Thanks for your comment!