The Heart of Little Italy – Heartsleeves Coffee

heartsleeves coffee little italy

The Heart of Little Italy – Heartsleeves Coffee

Little Italy, San Diego

Everyone knows that Little Italy, San Diego has plenty of great coffee shops. But what sets them apart? Every place has its own distinctive personality and flair. How do you find the cafe that fits your style?

I’d like to introduce to you a very unique cafe in the heart of Little Italy that offers a cozy, “I like to take my time drinking my coffee” experience you are searching for. Recently opened, Heartsleeves Coffee aims to provide quality artisan coffee in a people-focused atmosphere. Love coffee and that neighborhood community feel? This is the place for you.

heartsleeves coffee little italy

I spent a sunny morning with Brandi, the owner of Heartsleeves Coffee, who graciously answered questions about her new business. 

Brandi shared about how her love of coffee really came alive when she visited Costa Rica and a taxi driver showed her a tree where the coffee berries were growing. The coffee culture in Costa Rica, she explained, is relaxed – a sit-down experience. Pour overs, which can take some time to make, are just how everyone drinks coffee there. She explained that she wanted to bring that experience to her own customers – to provide a place where you can drink local craft coffee and simply take your time to enjoy it. For someone who desires quality coffee versus a barista cranking out drink after drink, this would be the place to go.
Why “Heartsleeves” as a Name?

Brandi found inspiration for the name of the coffee shop from a song by Natasha Bedingfield. The lyrics are pretty cool! Check them out here:

“And if I keep my heart open
If I wear it on my sleeve
No matter what life’s throwing
Nothing’s ever gonna get to me.”

~ Natasha Bedingfield

What Make Heartsleeves Cafe Unique?
Heartsleeves brings the atmosphere of a cafe tucked away inside a courtyard, where you can read a book or just catch up with friends. The quality of the drink and the care that goes into each drink is important. They are all about the whole experience of drinking coffee including the coffee, food, decor, and service – they want you to go home and remember that experience as a memorable one.

Throughout the cafe, you’ll notice the art and decor is inspired by an Alice in Wonderland theme. From vintage keys to silverware made from wrenches, you can spot an eclectic assortment of fun items all throughout the cafe. 

“Why sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

heartsleeves coffee little italy

heartsleeves coffee little italy


Although at first, Heartsleeves sounds like a cutesy name, Heartsleeves Coffee takes a “sweet with an edge” approach. This plate and tea towel will give you a feel for the unique atmosphere. Check out for more decor like it.


heartsleeves coffee little italy

heartsleeves coffee little italy
Heartsleeves Coffee
From artisan coffee drinks, pour overs, house coffee, and a variety of food (including awesome donuts from Devil’s Dozen), you’ll find exactly what suits your coffee time mood.

heartsleeves coffee little italy

Try the house made vanilla syrup!

heartsleeves coffee little italy

Heartsleeves gets their coffee from Swell Coffee Co., one of my favorite places for locally roasted coffee in San Diego. I got the house brewed coffee which was a Brazilian roast. It gave me the impression of dark chocolate – a rich tasting coffee that was not too bitter. And that’s all I really need to make me happy.
heartsleeves coffee little italy
Let’s Go!
Hidden away in a quiet courtyard, you’ll find Heartsleeves Coffee a welcome corner of Little Italy to relax and get away from all the hustle and bustle of the main streets. Just off Fir street, look for the Heartsleeves signboard and follow the smell of delicious coffee.

Heartsleeves Coffee loves getting involved with the community and hosts plenty of events each month. You can check out their facebook page or instagram account for more info on upcoming events.

heartsleeves coffee little italy


Thanks to Brandi for a lovely chat over coffee! Thanks for making the San Diego coffee experience even more unique and fun!


Yours truly,
a girl who dreams


3 Awesome Hikes in San Diego for Adventure Seekers

potato chip rock view in san diego

San Diego offers a great selection of outdoor adventure activities including several hiking trails less than 30 mins away. If you’re like me and can’t wait to get away from the busyness of city life and traffic, grab your water bottle and head out for a rewarding and beautiful hike. 

Here are 3 awesome hikes in San Diego (or nearish) where you can catch a great view, soak up some outdoor awesomeness, and set your spirits high with adventure. These are also highly recommended for watching an amazing sunrise or sunset as well!

You haven’t experienced San Diego until you’ve gone on these 3 awesome hikes for adventure seekers:


Cowles Mountain

Total miles: 3 miles out and back
Difficulty: Moderate

cowles mountain hiking trail

You’ll find plenty of people hiking this trail but don’t let that dissuade you from joining in. It’s popular for good reason. It’s close, a random mountain right in the city actually. The view at the top is amazing, especially on a clear day where you can see all of San Diego. Want an extra challenge? Try joining in with some of the crazy runners who run all the way up the mountain. I mean, I like adventure, but running up a mountain? That’s pretty hardcore. 


Iron Mountain

Total miles: 6 miles out and back
Difficulty: Moderate

iron mountain trailhead san diego

This is a beautiful hike all the way up. Get your panorama shots ready for an awesome view at the top! I’ve actually even done this one as a night hike with a group of friends and saw a shooting star! The glow of the city lights in the distance wasn’t bad either.

Iron Mountain panorama san diego hike


Mt Woodson aka Potato Chip Rock

Total miles: 6 miles out and back
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

potato chip rock adventures

You haven’t truly experienced San Diego until you’ve hiked Mt. Woodson. The most famous landmark is a ledge of rock that juts out, known as Potato Chip Rock. A classic photo opportunity. It’s a moderately difficult trail so be sure to bring lots of water and take plenty of breaks.

potato chip rock view in san diego


Get out and enjoy the beauty of Southern California! San Diego offers plenty for the outdoor adventurer seeker. 

Have some favorite hikes in San Diego? Share your insights with me!


Yours truly,
a girl who dreams


Where to Find Craft Coffee in South Bay – Pavaraga Cafe

pavaraga bonita san diego

Let’s face it, there are limited options when it comes to coffee in the South Bay. Local coffee culture is choked down by the ever populating chain coffee shops. I have found a few gems during my coffee adventuring with San Diego Coffee Questers, and today I offer you one more to add to the list.

Pavaraga – the World’s Most Luxurious Coffee

Pavaraga actually originated in Hawaii where they have a family-owned farm that grows local produce including coffee beans. All of Pavaraga’s coffee comes directly from their farm in Hawaii and is roasted to produce a variety of specialty coffees. While many Pavaraga coffee shops exist in Hawaii, this is actually their first cafe on the mainland and has only been open since August 2015.

aloha pavaraga san diego


Did you know? Picking 7 lbs of coffee cherries will make one cup of brewed coffee


I was invited along with several other San Diego Filipino Blogger Network (#SDFBN) members to a coffee tasting last week. The owner Leo was excited for our arrival and prepared a delicious tour of Hawaii just for us.

Let’s start with North Kona.

Pavaraga created a roast called Kyoto Style which is made from an ice drip cold brew. It has a darker, yet warm taste to it.

Next was the Ka’u blend, coming from south point on the Big Island. I thought it had a bold stronger taste, like bitter dark chocolate. This was also served as a cold brew.

White chocolate cold brew pavaraga

White Chocolate Ka’u Cold Brew

The next tasting was the Kona blend from South Kona. This reminded me of a chocolate stout or an 80% dark chocolate bar. It wasn’t too sweet but had lots of flavor.

Kahiko from Oahu on the west side is apparently Obama’s favorite Pavaraga Coffee. I thought that it had a light and slightly bitter taste. Not my favorite. I like my coffee nice and rich.

craft coffee pavaraga

The last brewed coffee we tasted was the most interesting. It was called, 80 year old Wild grown coffee (from Oahu). Some curious person just happened to try and roast it then turn it into a cold brew and voila! I though it was dry like wine. It was also very concentrated with deep earthy tones. There was a distinct roasted taste to it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it was almost like roasted wood.


Did you know? Pavaraga comes well recommended by various celebrities including Iron Chefs who helped design several menu items.


This panini (with bacon, avocado, turkey, and cheese, among other good things) designed by iron Chef Sakai was delicious.

chef sakai panini pavaraga chef sakai panini bite pavaraga

Check out my mini sized Chocolate Haupia Frappe (non-dairy). It had a chocolate and coconut flavor. Yum! Best ever on a hot day.

Chocolate Haupia Frappe pavaraga

We also sampled the Lilikoi iced tea and The Iron God of Mercy – a white oolong passion tea. Very refreshing with lots of fragrance.

Lilikoi iced tea pavaraga

Lilikoi Iced Tea

Iron God of Mercy pavaraga

Iron God of Mercy

Leo also served us some desserts flown in from Hawaii – a Kona cookie crunch and two types of baclava.

Thanks Leo! You are awesome!

sdfbn pavaraga

sdfbn pavaraga cheers

Cheers to the San Diego Filipino Bloggers Network!

Be sure to stop by Pavaraga and support the local coffee movement. Leo and his crew are very enthusiastic about sharing their love of coffee and will welcome you with plenty of aloha smiles.

Experience a taste of the Hawaiian islands. Indulge in luxury coffee. Go home happy.


Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

***Be sure to check out the San Diego Filipino Bloggers Network Facebook page for more awesome places to visit in San Diego.


Coffee Oasis in the North – Mostra Coffee

mostra cold brew craft coffee san diego

Yesterday I went with the San Diego Coffee Questers to a cold brew release party at Mostra Coffee, located in Rancho Bernardo. It’s in North County? I thought as I googled directions. “The North,” tends to be a land of suburban neighborhoods filled with chain restaurants and chain coffee shops. Don’t get me wrong, I still drink Starbucks. But I love craft coffee too. I don’t consider myself a coffee snob, but I do enjoy seeing local businesses who take pride in their art and craft.

This is what I mean. Check out this excerpt from Mostra’s website:

“MOSTRA. The Italian word for ‘show,’ ‘exhibition,’ or ‘performance.’ We are dedicated to giving the best performance. From the quality of our coffee beans, to the way we roast, brew, and serve our customers. Mostra Coffee. Because the best performances offer the best of life.”

Who knew that such a gem could exist in an unlikely location? But I’m sure being the oasis for locally roasted craft coffee does have its benefits. Maybe they will be the pioneers for bringing more craft coffee to the North County. Yay!

I opted for trying the Indonesia Sumatra pour over.

mostra pour over san diego

How does a pour over work, exactly? It’s really simple. It’s basically a simple method of brewing, using just enough ground coffee beans for one serving. Placing the beans in a filter, the barista pours the water over the grounds in gradual successions. It takes about 4 minutes.

Mmm, delicious!

mostra pour over coffee san diego

I also bought a bottle to take home of the Mostra Cold Brew Elder Mostrasity – barrel aged coffee – with a slight taste of Coconut. Seriously, it was heaven in a bottle.

It made my Sunday morning extra lovely.

elder mostrasity cold brew craft coffee san diego

Guess what? One of the owners is Filipino and he told me about how Mostra Coffee is planning to offer a new roast using beans from the Philippines. The coffee bean farm they are working with is located in Mindanao, the southern most part of the country. Although the Philippines produces a lot of coffee, most people are not familiar with it, yet. But they will. Local Philippine roasters, such as Bana Cafe in Sagada, were my favorite for buying grounds for my daily morning brewed coffee. Look for the new line of Philippines coffee at Mostra this coming fall!


Yours truly,
a girl who dreams


Want to join us in our coffee questing adventures? Check out San Diego Coffee Questers here. Feel free to just show up at our weekly Saturday morning meet ups. We love meeting new people and sharing our love of coffee.

Fine Dining in Mission Beach – Oceana Coastal Kitchen

oceana coastal kitchen catamaran resort

Recently I had the chance to dine at Catamaran Resort at the Oceana Coastal Kitchen. They told us we had the best seat in the house and with this view, I couldn’t have agreed more.

oceana coastal kitchen outdoor patio

Tucked away in Mission Beach, Oceana Coastal Kitchen gave us a relaxing evening spent with good food and good friends. The outdoor patio seating offered a gorgeous view of the water, while still providing privacy away from the busyness of the tourist crowds.

Several chefs greeted me as I entered the restaurant. They enthusiastically showed me how to make sushi rolls and even let me steal a picture from behind the counter.

Love these guys! They’re the best!

oceana coastal kitchen chefs

oceana coastal kitchen seafood tower

The food was absolutely delicious. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking from here on out.

Try not to get too jealous ;)

Here is what we had for an “appetizer.” Although I have to admit, I can’t eat seafood, my friends devoured the seafood tower and sushi with delight. “You’re missing out!” they told me. “This is amazing!”

oceana coastal kitchen seafood tower san diego

oceana coastal kitchen sushi

I decided to order the Roast Filet Mignon and I did not regret this decision. The filet, cooked to perfection, was tender and flavorful. The best part was the blue cheese butter on top and a red wine sauce drizzled on the plate. Au gratin potatoes, cumin roasted carrots, and white raisins complimented the meal making for a gorgeous picture.

oceana coastal kitchen filet mignon blue cheese

oceana coastal kitchen titos sunrise cocktails

A waiter also brought us orange scented biscuits, fresh from the oven. Love it! Yes please!

oceana coastal kitchen hot orange biscuits

oceana coastal kitchen orange biscuits

Dessert was heavenly. We tried the New School Banana Pudding, Warm Skillet Brownie & Cream, Warm Chocolate Cream-filled Doughnuts, and Trudy’s Black Velvet Cake.

oceana coastal kitchen warm brownie and cream oceana coastal kitchen black velvet cake oceana coastal kitchen banana pudding oceana coastal kitchen chocolate filled donuts

Just when I was about to fall asleep right there and then with a delicious food coma, a fireworks display filled the sky over the water directly in front of us.

Seriously, can it get better than this?!

fireworks mission bay san diego

Best for: Fine dining with a gorgeous view, excellent food, quiet, peaceful, and relaxing atmosphere.
Favorite Part: The staff were very friendly and welcoming. They made sure our experience was a memorable one!

Thank you to the staff at Oceana Coastal Kitchen for an enjoyable evening! It was awesome!

And thanks to the San Diego Filipino Bloggers Network for a fun time! Come check us out at our Facebook Page.

san diego filipino bloggers network

San Diego, you romance me more and more everyday. LOVE

Yours truly,
a girl who dreams