Nostalgia Cafe brings coffee culture to Torrey Hills
Taylor Fields geeks out on every aspect of the coffee process—from seed to roasting to brewing to the simple act of enjoying a cup.
The former accountant turned entrepreneur is the founder of San Diego’s Nostalgia Coffee Roasters, award-winning coffee blends that are sold online and distributed through partnerships with Fortune 100 companies. Her company started with a mobile cafe, grew into a roastery in Miramar and has now become a Torrey Hills cafe—the first brick and mortar coffee shop opened in November 2022 on the ground floor of Torrey Plaza by Breakthrough.
The cafe is the premiere spot to find Nostalgia coffee, by the cup or cold brew, in a specialty drink like the organic caramel latte, by the pound in their trademark bright blue and gold foil packaging or in their innovative brew bags.
Last year was Nostalgia’s breakthrough year coffee-wise with a #15 ranking in Coffee Review and winning gold at Golden Bean, the largest roasting competition in North America.
Recently, Inc. magazine named Fields to its sixth annual Female Founders list, honoring a group of 200 dynamic women innovators and entrepreneurs.
“What an insane list to be on, I’m still shocked about it,” said Fields, 30. “I certainly would not be here without the incredible work and dedication of our entire team. They have spent countless hours pursuing our goal of bringing systemic change to the coffee space and fighting for more equity, sustainability, diversity and inclusion. As a gay female founder, fighting for equity is deeply personal, so this recognition truly means a lot.”
A native of New Mexico, Fields didn’t grow up with coffee at all. Her few early coffee memories are of her parents drinking cups of French press on Christmas morning. When she moved to Chicago to attend to DePaul University, she arrived just in time for the freezing “Snowmageddon” of 2010— the cold drove her into coffee shops seeking warmth and she fell in love with the coffee culture. A favorite spot was Intelligentsia, where she would log long hours cramming for her CPA exam.
“That just totally opened up my eyes to coffee as a craft, as an art, as a science and a place that can bring a lot of people together,” she said.
She eventually moved to San Diego with the audit firm BDO (across the street from her cafe), where she used to treat her coworkers to fresh brew in the conference room, bringing in her own grinder and kettle to do pour overs. Around 2015, she finally decided to pursue what she really loved: “I wasn’t passionate about accounting but coffee…that was it for me.”
Fields went to work for Intuit, where she had the flexibility to continue to work in corporate accounting while starting her own small businesses. Intuit became her first coffee client when she opened Nostalgia in 2018 as a mobile cafe on the campus off SR-56, a trailer she built by herself over a year and a half.
Right before the pandemic, Fields had taken out a “pretty big darn” loan with the intention to expand when all of the sudden she was faced with the shutdown. She took the opportunity to pivot to coffee roasting, taking six months learning everything she could and starting with a small, one pound roaster in a space in the Miralani Makers District.
Nostalgia’s first blend launched at the end of 2020— the Memory Lane earned 92 points from Coffee Review, the highest rated in California: “That put us on the map.”
The Memory Lane, comprising a blend of three coffees from Guatemala, Brazil and Sumatra, has become Nostalgia’s most popular offering: “A coffee for everyone, a coffee that sparks joy in coffee connoisseurs and new coffee drinkers alike”, with notes of Swiss chocolate and fig-like sweetness.
While expanding on her roasting and production, Fields became “obsessed” with the idea of coffee in tea bags. She spent a year in research in development to create the right type of product that wouldn’t sacrifice the taste or quality. With added boiling water, Nostalgia’s brew bags make a cup of coffee in four minutes.
“We think it’s going to change the industry forever,” said Fields, who has goals of getting the convenience of brew bags into the hospitality space.
Providing coffee for large companies remains Nostalgia’s main business—she is competing with brands like Starbucks to come into corporate environments and overhaul the coffee program in office spaces.
“I know the corporate world and I know how important a good cup of coffee is during the day,” Fields said. “It helps create a better experience at work and an improved quality of life which has been important in bringing people back to the office.”
Breakthrough has been hugely supportive—in Torrey Plaza Nostalgia is featured in their StudioLab, an innovation environment for high growth life science companies.
More than just “a normal coffee company”, Fields is on an ambitious mission to make an impact, to use coffee as a catalyst for systemic change by challenging industry standards. Since getting into the business she was troubled to learn that farmers, roasters and baristas are not always paid right.
Producers who grow Nostalgia coffee are paid beyond the commodity value of their product. She views producers to be a part of the team and Nostalgia goes beyond the industry standard to provide a thriving wage so they can continue to grow their business, care for their families and ultimately thrive.
More than 50 percent of Nostalgia’s coffee is produced by women-owned farms: “I’ve never heard of another coffee company who can say that and that’s really cool,” she said of her partners in places like Brazil, Mexico and Sumatra. The company gives 5% of its revenue directly back to those producers each year in an effort to help improve their facilities and to pay employees higher wages.
Locally, Fields also ensures that everyone on her own team is paid a fair and equal wage, focusing on advancing women, LGBTQ and BIPOC community members into leadership roles and everyone into considering coffee as a career.
At the heart of Nostalgia though, is what coffee is all about for Fields—the experience and the vibe. The cafe is the place where she hopes people will come to taste and try Nostalgia. The Torrey Hills space is decked out with funky pink fuzzy walls, blues and golds that mirror the coffee bags, and custom murals done by her artist cousin Marlowe Hermanovski. In addition to coffee, the cafe serves up food such as loaded toasts, yogurt parfaits, overnight oats, paninis and salads.
Since opening in November, sales have increased steadily. Breakfast time gets “crazy” and Saturdays have become their busiest day, she said. They are now open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the hope is to eventually expand their hours—she hopes her cafe will become a favorite study spot for local students.
For Fields, there is nothing that compares to the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee and the way it can evoke memories—it’s what she named her company after. The smell of coffee always brings her back to missing Chicago (even that CPA exam) and merry family Christmases.
“This is somewhat corny,” she admits, percolating over her next words: “Now we’re sparking future nostalgia.”
Nostalgia is located at 10945 Vista Sorrento Parkway, unit 110. Visit nostalgiacoffeeroasters.com
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