It is summertime. You want to get out of town, travel, and see the world, but gas prices are high, the market is in a slump, and making a reservation is a nightmare. Could I recommend a coffee staycation that is close to home but off the beaten path? Check out Acento Coffee Roasters in the Morena District of San Diego.
You are familiar with Morena District, a small industrial area on the left side of the highway en route to a Padres game or Tijuana.
You already know it. By the dance studio with the banner Learn to Waltz! You see the red and black building made of concrete blocks that sells thousands of different types of lightbulbs! It is Bay Park. Take Route 5 northbound from North County. Take the SeaWorld exit and then turn around.
Then, continue along the Morena Boulevard frontage road around the bend and into an industrial area. Turn right onto Sherman, then left onto Banks, and voilà! You’re almost there. You must still park. There is limited street parking, but at the end of the block there is a large gravel lot. It’s not technically a parking lot, but if there’s nothing available on the street, it’s fair game. Backtrack to the Acento Coffee Roasters entrance.
Now you have arrived. Through the large door is a beautiful, two-part space. The coffee roasting operation with the large Diederich roaster is located to the right. On a daily basis, someone will be roasting here. Acento’s beans are roasted over the course of several hours, while other local roasters rent time on the machine. There are benches with small round tables where you can observe the coffee roasters up close.
The owner and operator, Luis Sanchez, greets me warmly upon my arrival from behind a sky-blue La Marzocco espresso machine at the coffee bar on the left. I can tell he is smiling even with his mask on. The espresso maker is constantly in use.
Acento is an espresso coffee bar, so even black coffee is made by pulling espresso and mixing it with hot water to create an Americano. Luis is originally from Mexico, but he developed a passion for coffee in Australia and has traveled extensively throughout the world. Acento is infused with traces of this international influence.
The space is partitioned by a decorative built-in shelf wall with books and indoor plants, which adds ambiance and life to an already vibrant area. As the back wall connects the roastery to Made Lumber, a lumber distribution and fine furniture store, live edge wood slabs were used to construct the coffee bar. The bar’s seating, walls, and even wall art highlight the beauty of the wood available next door.