Something’s brewing in Vista, and downtown is becoming increasingly caffeinated with a blooming coffee scene.
While other areas of North County have long been known for their strong culture of shops and roasters, new, upcoming and seasoned coffee shops with a twist are growing the culture in the City of Vista. Steel Mill Coffee, the soon to be opened Archer’s Arrow, and Cat and Craft cat café have all made their homes in the city and are bringing new flavor notes to the growing scene.
Originally from Oceanside, Steel Mill Coffee opened their doors on Main Street in downtown Vista this spring. Founders Shea Cooper, Chris Balingit, and Riley Hawk, son of professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, dreamed of creating a collaborative space with friends where they could support each other while enjoying a good cup of coffee.
“We spin records. We have our own music in there…One of my favorite things is teaming up with my good friend Michelle who does vintage [clothes],” said Shea Cooper, co-founder of Steel Mill Coffee. “It’s a rad space while expecting a good cup of coffee.”
Not far down the road is Archer’s Arrow, that’s expected to open its doors in August. Husband and wife co-owners Josh and Kat Barille have a goal to operate the most approachable coffee shop that caters to newcomers, casual fans and connoisseurs.
“There’s been years of the coffee scene where it’s gotten a rep of being exclusive,” said Josh Barille, co-owner of Archer’s Arrow. “My brother drinks black coffee because years ago a barista said ‘If you’re not drinking it black, it doesn’t matter.’ But it should be something enjoyable and approachable.”
“The way we want to be is if you want to put creamer in it, go for it! If you don’t, great!” said Kat Barille, co-owner of Archer’s Arrow.
For both Steel Mill Coffee and Archer’s Arrow, there’s an excitement to breaking ground in the Vista coffee scene.
“A high tide raises all ships,” said Josh Barille. “It’s better to have a cool coffee scene than it is to have a cool coffee shop. The fact that we’re on the same street as [Steel Mill Coffee] is good for Vista and good for us both…it’s bigger than us. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”
“Being a part of creating the scene [in Vista] is an honorable thing, especially along Main Street, which is developing into the coolest place you can be,” said Cooper.
Also based in downtown is Brewed Vista. Founded by Jim and Jennifer Clark, Brewed Vista is known for their gourmet coffee and craft beers. Brewed Vista also hosts weekly special events like live music, trivia, karaoke and open mics.
Another nearby must-stop is Cat and Craft, a cat café with a full-service coffee shop and delectable, cat-pun titled treats like their “avogato” and “cat-prese” toasts. Cat and Craft has a separated space where they partner with The Rescue House, a non-profit dedicated to finding forever homes for unwanted, abandoned, homeless and abused cats.
“We’re a space that can house cats available for adoption in a public and comfortable environment to meet and interact with them,” said Caroline Vaught, founder of Cat and Craft.
The cats you’ll meet at Cat and Craft are available for adoption. Their goal is 2,000 cats adopted by the end of the year, and as of June, they are more than halfway there with 1,180 felines finding new families.
“Finding homes for homeless cats is the core of our mission, but it’s more than that,” said Vaught. “It’s giving people the connection to unconditional love that we’ve encountered if we’ve had pets in our lives.”