Fourtillfour Cafe embraces good coffee, vintage cars

Fourtillfour Cafe is located along Coast Highway in Encinitas. Photo by Ryan Woldt

Open: daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: Brew of Four coffee 002a blend of coffee beans from Guatemala and Honduras
Roast: medium-dark
Tasting Notes: Chocolate, Nutty
Price: $3.15 with cup discount
What I’m Listening To: Tokyo Police Club,”Be good

i applaud fourtil four in front of them for conventional wisdom. The coffee shop branding relies heavily on the coolness of the vintage car culture. They have a terrace with a decent parking space – a real Leucadian luxury, and yet they have chosen to turn their parking spaces into another sitting area.

A nod, I suppose, to the walkability of the neighborhood and their belief that neighbors will determine their success. The bold yellow umbrellas along the Coast Highway bang against the matte black fence like the Harvest Moon in the September night sky.

Fourtillfour fills the end cap where Moonage Food Co. parked their truck in late 2020 and is one of the newest coffee shops to open in the North County coastal area. The transition seems to have quite a bit of black paint in it.

The color scheme is matte black on matte black on matte black throughout. The darkness causes the occasional splash of orange and mustard to draw attention like a hummingbird to the generic red fire truck feeder.

The classic red Porsche in the parking lot and the Baja’d out Volkswagon inside the gate attract me in much the same way. I find myself peering through the windows as if they were art students’ dioramas. I do not know why. I’m not really a car guy. Some things just exude inherent coolness.

A classic red Porsche parked in front of Fourtillfour Cafe in Encinitas. Photo by Ryan Woldt

Inside the gate, opposite the VW Bug, is a repurposed walk-behind tractor that serves as a café. The menu is displayed next to the side-cut service window. The black block letters have a glossy varnish that makes them stand out nicely against the matte black wall. I order a black drip coffee which the barista describes as “…roasted to medium, but it has our darkest flavor.”

Indie rock music from the early 2000s – The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, The Hives – sets the tone when I’m looking for a place to sit. In this outdoor terrace there are four different seating areas. Chance? I wonder.

Adjacent to the RV cafe is an elevated patio lounge with floating counter benches. Patio tables with shade umbrellas line the succulent wall planters to the left of the gate. In the back corner is a small podium and merch stand with a bench and some benches.

At the back, under an overhang, a final set of patio tables and another set of counter benches are lit by a neon sign and kept cool by ceiling fans.

On this morning, coffee drinkers, the most seemingly remote workers with laptops, are scattered sporadically. Several tattooed gentlemen dressed in black T-shirts, non-ironic mustaches and flat-brimmed caps sit by the entrance, looking as if they could have been set as decor. Motorcycle helmets take place on the table next to their coffee and computers.

Four Coffee 002, a medium-dark blend of coffee beans from Guatemala and Honduras.  Photo by Ryan Woldt
Four Coffee 002, a medium-dark blend of coffee beans from Guatemala and Honduras. Photo by Ryan Woldt

I look for a crutch and make myself comfortable. The baristas make the rounds to chat with customers. Most seem to be regulars. My coffee is hot and black and matches the barista’s initial description as a medium roast with some dark tendencies. Four coffees is the roast side of the Fourtillfour cafes, of which there are two. The first opened in Scottsdale, AZ, in 2015

I move to the lounge chairs closest to the cafe so I can hear the beans grind and smile at the happy dog ​​who seems to be playing hide-and-seek with his own tail. I listen to a man covered from head to toe in motorcycle leather explain the differences between his old exhaust system and his new one to anyone within earshot.

For the most part, the Fourtillfour experience this morning is calm and quiet, save for the occasional train whistle tearing up the tranquility. This Instagram-friendly store seems designed for a new type of customer who wants more than just coffee. The store is looking for a place where a few well-placed selfies let its friends and followers know that they’ve experienced coffee.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to ogle at the red Porsche outside the door and imagine myself feeling the rumble of the engine as I downshift around a bend and race away on my next coffee adventure.

Pro tip: The door behind the stage that you think is the toilet isn’t. There is one in a walkway in the back right corner that is shared with the flower shop next door. Check both locks!

Want more coffee content? Listen to the roast! West Coast coffee podcast on Spotify. Follow @RoastWestCoast on Instagram.

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