New Breakers cafe specializes in great wines, California coffee
Breakers Coffee and Wine hopes to be your new favorite local spot with a rotating wine list served by the glass, bottle or tasting flight and grove to cup small-batch coffee, grown right here in Southern California.
Open since late October at Del Mar Highlands Town Center, the relaxed yet stylish lounge with outdoor patio is located just steps from the happening Sky Deck. Owner Kyle Rosa said Breakers is meant to be an experiential place, a “House of Flights” with options for coffee flights (called cuppings), wine flights, beer flights and even mimosa flights.
Breakers sources its green coffees direct from farmers and co-ops and roasts all of their coffee onsite with a small batch roaster, affectionately nicknamed Little Boy Blue for its blue hue. Their flagship roast is Cyrus the Great, a bright yet creamy blend of Brazil and Ethiopia beans named in memory of his father, featured in the espresso drinks like the cappuccino, Sugar on Snow Latte with maple syrup.
The wine menu will change up frequently with up to 30 selections (the Bichi, Mistico Field Blend from Tecate, Mexico has been a hit) and on the beer side they have local favorites on tap like Pure Project and Burgeon. Breakers has already done its first collaboration with Burgeon—the Carlsbad brewery used its Ancestor java roast to create a golden stout called Coffee Break.
To pair with the drinks, the cafe serves up “California comfort food” with an evolving menu with items like fresh O’Briens pastries, smoked salmon benedict, housemade cornbread, a jam toasted brioche, salads, flatbreads and a fully-loaded charcuterie board.
Eventually, Breakers will be pouring coffee directly from Rosa’s farm, Bluetail Coffee Grove in San Marcos.
Rosa has always had an affinity for agriculture, he grew up in Vermont surrounded by farmlands and jokes that he got his tractor license before his driver’s license. “Coming from Vermont, farming is ingrained in us,” he said
He moved out to San Diego about 10 years ago, relocating to San Francisco to work in finance and accounting for tech companies, including Uber. Wanting to raise a family, he moved back to San Diego where his wife Erika grew up (she is a Torrey Pines High School alum). The couple now lives in Cardiff with daughter Harlee and six-month-old son Austin.
Originally, Rosa wanted to be a winemaker and have his own vineyard. Winemaking came with its own challenges so he started looking around at other potential crops and learned about Jay Ruskey of Frinj Coffee, a pioneer of California coffee who started growing coffee in Goleta near Santa Barbara about 15 years ago. Many weren’t sure that growing coffee could work in this part of the world.
“He discovered not only did it work but he created really amazing coffees,” said Rosa.
An evaluation by Coffee Review, the world’s coffee rating organization, rated the California-grown coffee as 27th in the world with a score of 92, which is considered exceptional.
Rosa met Ruskey and Frinj co-founder Andy Mullens at an educational talk held at Grangetto’s. With his interest in coffee farming brewing, the connection turned into weekly conversations as he fine-tuned the how-tos of growing Frinj plants here in San Diego.
Four years ago Rosa leased four acres on a 50-acre farm in San Marcos, becoming Bluetail Coffee Growers, named for the local orange throated whiptail lizards which have bright blue tails. He started with 1,500 trees and is now up to 2,000 trees growing six types of arabica varieties. The trees are different sizes: some are stout, some tall and lanky, while the Laurina is shaped like a Christmas tree and produces naturally half-caffeinated coffee.
Among the varietals is Geisha, a natural, untouched species: “The taste is almost like a black tea, it’s very sweet and floral with jasmine notes. It’s a very different coffee,” said Rosa.
Rosa estimates he puts in about 20 hours a week at the farm. The first seasons have been a lesson in perseverance, he lost over 30% to freeze one year and then winds knocked out several trees the following year: The trees are big enough now that the freeze or winds can’t kill them.
Coffee takes three to four years to produce a viable harvest. With Bluetail, Rosa is about a year away from first commercial harvest and pouring his very own coffee into cups at Breakers: “I’m so excited I cannot wait,” he said. “We’re in the first wave of California coffees. I’m a firm believer that it is California’s next crop.”
While tending his crop, Rosa got into roasting his own small batches on Little Boy Blue and then made the decision to get into the retail side, developing the concept of Breakers as a coffee shop. The Breakers name is borrowed from the process of breaking the crust with a spoon to release the aroma during coffee cupping, it is also a nod to the coastal environment.
Rosa was in the build-out phase in another location when COVID-19 hit and their lease fell through. Fortunately, they were approached by the Del Mar Highlands team to fill a space in their expansion.
“I couldn’t be happier to be here,” Rosa said. “It’s such a fun place, my wife has come here her whole life, it’s such a good feeling and a good fit.”
Despite being new, Rosa said Breakers has weekend brunch rushes and has already established a fun group of regulars. In a couple of weeks, he will launch memberships on coffee and wine. Subscribers will get a bag of coffee and bottle of wine a month and discounts when they come in to visit.
Rosa has seen the similarities between wine and coffee, the love and care that goes into the craft. As a farmer, he understands the importance of recognizing the people who influence the quality of the finished product.
“We think of ourselves as storytellers,” Rosa said. “The number of people who touch wine and coffee is astronomical, I really want to tell their stories.”
Breakers is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.,
Thursday through Saturday until 9 p.m. Learn more at breakersdelmar.com and follow them on Instagram @breakers_delmar
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