Banana coffee from Oceanside’s Banana Dang is a great vibe

Where: Banana Dang Coffee, 115 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA, 92054
Open: Daily 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
What: Super Monkey Blend (Colombia + Guatemala)
Tasting notes: dark chocolate, mango, caramel
Price: $2.85 (bring your own discount mug)
What I Hear: Wolf Bared, ‘I’d Believe in Anything’

I literally passed the entrance to Banana Dang Coffee in Oceanside when some universe-changing force made me turn around and skip to this previously undiscovered artisanal coffee shop.

This place is the vibe. I was greeted by some new hip-hop beats, mismatches of tables and chairs, old chairs and funky artwork – it all seemed to fit perfectly together.

I make my way around the bar, past perfect-looking pastries from SPLIT Bakehouse (one of my favorite purveyors of vegan baked goods), to the register to order my coffee. All staff wear masks, which I appreciate. I realize the world has passed from Covid, but I’m still watching the virus.

Today (and I think most days) of the drink is Super Monkey, which is a blend of coffee beans from Guatemala and Colombia and comes out hot.

Banana Dang Coffee is purchased directly from farmers (direct trade) and is roasted at a co-op in San Diego. Photographed by Ryan Woldt

I put it on a long table near the back of the space and took in my surroundings. In the back, a wall of banana artwork sits above a pair of lounge chairs. Shelving unit full of Banana Dang merchandise. More artwork lines the front walls above picnic tables and bar stools.

The large front window overlooks the South Coast Highway. Spock oil painting keeps my coffee awake while I’m walking around.

There are bananas everywhere. There is even a flyer advertising the benefits of bananas in a frame, and on the store’s website it says, “Banana is the perfect fruit in the world.” Besides coffee, the shop has an extensive juice and food menu (guess which ingredient is in each offering?) and they also serve ‘Happy Toast’, which you can order with or without bananas.

Despite the casual vibe, this place is clean. The sun is reflected off the Earth, and every surface is illuminated by years of elbow grease. I can practically see the words of the Tribe Called Quest jump off rooftops.

The interior of Banana Dang Coffee on Oceanside.  Photographed by Ryan Woldt
The interior of Banana Dang Coffee on Oceanside. Photographed by Ryan Woldt

The only downside to this cafe is that there is no full patio, but there is a nice seat outside. I turn just in time for the marine layer to recede and the sun to come out. Leaning against the wall, I sip what has become a fine cup of coffee now that it’s cold. The mango and fruit flavors shine on the traditional dark chocolate. There is only a glimpse of bitterness. Drinks clean with a crisp finish.

Traffic in the morning is light but provides steady, soothing white noise. I could just jot down some French hip-hop notes from the nearby entrance. I take a scrap of paper from my pocket and start the grocery list. Banana on top.

Diary: I met Matt Delarosa, founder of Ironsmith Coffee Roasters in Encinitas. It’s always a good sign when your coffee shop is where the other great coffee shop owners hang out for coffee and juice. Matt was a guest on the first season of Roast! West Coast. Check out that interview here.

The Bean Journal is a new column by Ryan Woldt, host of Manal! West Coast Coffee podcast, which can be streamed to: Find the features of coffee shops, coffee shops, and coffee roasters in North County.

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