Discovering East County’s hidden coffee scene

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Mainstream, chain based coffee houses are not the only option for a cup of Joe in East County.

Not everyone likes the busy and high-demand Starbucks line, and sometimes one would like a less corporate coffee house to get caffeine. East County holds many small, family-owned coffee shops such as The Library Coffee Shop and Kaffee Meister.

Mainstream, chain based coffee houses are not the only option for a cup of Joe in East County.

Not everyone likes the busy and high-demand Starbucks line, and sometimes one would like a less corporate coffee house to get caffeine. East County holds many small, family-owned coffee shops such as The Library Coffee Shop and Kaffee Meister.

Kaffee Meister was born from a couple who housed coffee gatherings at their house. They were passionate about the social aspect of coffee. They would invite all their friends over for large coffee get-togethers. Eventually, these became so popular that people started recommending they turn it into a full on business.

The couple then started their own business, Kaffee Meister. They now have two locations, one in Lakeside and the other in Santee. Kaffee Meister works to stick to its roots of close community relationships.

Alyssa Albertson, an employee for six years as of March, said loyal customers are a backbone of the café.

“We have a really strong customer base of regulars,” she said. “As a staff, a lot of our energy is directed towards creating a really welcoming space and inviting people to be in the community here. A lot of people on staff, in fact, started as customers.”

Kaffee Meister also hosts live music from community artists in the evenings, Tuesday-Saturday. Anyone in the community is welcome to apply to play a live show on their website kaffeemeister.com.

Jonni M. posted on Yelp: “I absolutely adore Kaffee Meister. I’ve been coming here for about 2-3 years now, and their coffee has actually ruined me for other places because it is so delicious! I recommend an Iced White Mocha with half and half.”

The Santee location is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Lakeside location is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

But, Kaffee Meister is not the only hidden coffee gem in East County, The Library Coffee Shop is another family-owned coffee house.

Jessie Stormoen, coming up on one-year working at the Library Coffee Shop, said the environment in the shop is uplifting.

“It is super fun, and the kids are super fun,” she said.

Fellow barista and a high school classmate of Stormoen, Genevieve James said the coffee shop has been a good job to balance with school.

“It fits really well with our schedules,” she said.

This coffee shop is a very small and quaint place attached to the Rancho San Diego Branch Library in El Cajon.

They open at 7:30 a.m. daily and remain busy in the mornings with patrons getting their coffee on the way to work, while later in the afternoon it fills with school-aged children who have come to the library after getting let out for the day.

While Kaffee Meister is known for their Cappuccino and live music, the Library Coffee Shop is adored for their handcrafted pastries.

Brit K wrote on Yelp: “Such a cute little coffee shop in a cute little library…Service is incredible, and drinks are way better than Starbucks! They use organic coffee and they have a nice selection of teas and pastries – made from scratch!”

But, the community-based coffee shops do not end here. There are also other community favorites such as Brew Coffee Spot, Bad Ass Coffee, Public Square Coffee House, and Lofty Coffee Company to name a few.

So, whether you are a coffee fanatic, feel like trying something new, or are just tired of the cooperate coffee scene, there are unique places to try all over East County.

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