Latte by the Sea: Little business with a lot of heart


A new La Jolla coffee and food cart is giving health-minded and socially conscious consumers a few more options.

Located on Ivanhoe Avenue between Park Row and Silverado Street, Latte by the Sea has been serving up organic coffee and espresso drinks, along with a bevvy of healthy breakfast bowls, soups and sandwiches, since opening last May.

When selecting items to offer his customers — largely working professionals from nearby banks, real estate offices and law firms — owner John Christofferson seeks to align himself with vendors that have a more socially responsible ethos.

“And they turn out really good products,” he said, noting the breakfast burritos, sandwiches and paninis he offers from Feast on This, a local company that employs nearly 30 deaf workers.

“They’ve won awards for catering,” Christofferson said. “Plus, they’re really good people.”

Latte by the Sea also sells vegetarian, gluten-free soups from Pacific Beach-based Decker Brothers Gourmet, including pumpkin Thai, Chili Mole and Broccoli Blue Cheese Bisque.

In his spare time, Decker Brothers co-owner Chris Decker teaches wounded army veterans how to surf.

“He says it’s so much better than teaching kids, because they don’t feel sorry for themselves,” Christofferson said. “They’re just so eager to learn.”

The Evolution Fresh juices sold at Latte by the Sea are made using a new form of pasteurization equipment that relies on high temperature instead of heat, which can harm the flavor and deplete nutrients.

Latte by the Sea’s coffee drinks are made with organic, Fair Trade coffees from Café Moto.

“It makes a big difference in the flavor,” said Christofferson, an Encinitas resident who opened his first location in Oceanside, after his job as a software designer was outsourced in 2010.

“I’ve been addicted to coffee for a long time,” he said. “I went to France where you’d expect to drink a lot of wine. I drank a lot of coffee. Even on the street it was good.”

The cart also offers freshly prepared a Açai bowls, smoothies and pastries.

When introducing new products and flavors, employees offer customer tastings. A bargain priced “happy hour” is from 2 to 3 p.m. daily.

Hilde Stephan, an event planner who works around the corner on Cave Street and comes by frequently for a piping hot Mexican mocha, said she likes the selection and friendly service at Latte by the Sea.

“It’s just the personalized attention you get,” she said. “They have really good coffee … and they know your name.”

Latte by the Sea is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

—Pat Sherman