Like any big city, San Diego has its share of coffee shops. People come in, order their coffee, and move along with their busy day. But, it doesn’t happen quite this way at The Kouch by Simon Says.
The small but vibrant neighborhood of Hillcrest is known for its eclectic array of bars, restaurants, boutiques and unique shops. It’s also known for its friendly, accepting vibe and a strong sense of community.
So when Jacob Sapochnick, a San Diego immigration lawyer from Haifa, Israel had the chance to purchase the coffee shop in October 2017, he did so with a vision.
In a town that already invites connection, The Kouch would be a place where all are welcome, all day long, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour. They could stay as long as they wished and a shelf full of games in-house encourages more interaction and fun.
Jacob already owned a thriving coffee bar in downtown San Diego called Simon Says Coffee with a mission of “We don’t just serve you coffee. We serve you with a smile” just like European open coffee bars where people stop by every day on their way to or from work. The coffee bar got its name after the popular 80s detective television show Simon & Simon was filmed here.
When Jacob opened the coffee bar in Hillcrest, it became known as The Kouch by Simon Says. Why? Because like any good bar, patrons love to gather and share stories about life, and baristas, like any good bartender, are more than happy to listen and interact. No one leaves here a stranger.
It’s was a chilly San Diego morning on our visit, and we were hankering for a great cup of coffee. Specialties of the house here are amazing. Jack, the engaging manager, a U.K native, recommended, with a wry sense of humor, the Viennese Latte, one of the café’s most popular. And was as he ever right. Creamy, rich and deep-flavored, this guilty pleasure was meant to be savored.
My hubby, a huge Macchiato fan, proclaimed his to be the best he’s ever had. Bold, invigorating, smooth as silk, it was the perfect morning picker-upper.
Kouch coffees come from only one source, Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon. Jake says their organic beans make the very best coffees. His favorite is the Hairbender, a sweet, balanced bean perfect for coffee concoctions. We can attest they make a phenomenal cup of java.
Where there’s coffee, there’s food, and we had the pleasure of sampling some of Kouch’s best breakfast entrees proudly prepared by Hector, the chef hailing from Mexico City. He is setting the bar on coffee shop breakfasts with a focus on Southwestern cuisine with some creative twists.
Avocado Toast, served on multi-grained bread smothered in avocado, diced tomato, crumbled feta cheese and scallions and topped with an egg was a delightful surprise.
We loved sampling two brand new menu items, the Chilaquiles, strips of house-made tortillas topped with salsa, feta cheese, avocado and an over-easy-egg.
The second entrée, avocado fries, are deadly. Dipped in egg batter and rice flour and accompanied with three dips, this new appetizer item will disappear quickly from the tables.
While dining, we noticed an array of vintage clocks from various time periods adorning The Kouch’s walls. Jacob explained that the clocks signify the stages of people’s lives. Patrons from all age groups enter the coffee shop with stories to share.
Like our lives, the hands of the clock just keep moving. One customer in his 60s shared his regrets one day that he’d never traveled overseas. The barista told him that it was never too late. Where did he want to go?
Upon the customer’s return visit, he gleefully announced “I did it. I booked a trip to Europe, and I am thrilled!”
This is exactly what makes The Kouch so unique.
Photos and article by Noreen L Kompanik