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Published on November 20th, 2012 | by Ashley Shafer


Cafe Bassam, Vintage Appeal and Dirty Chai Lattes

Cafe Bassam Buzzes with Vintage Appeal and Dirty Chai Lattes

Take it from someone who’s been to their fair share of coffee shops, Cafe Bassam is a diamond among rhinestones. I hope you don’t underestimate me when I say I have paid my coffee shop dues as a barista and customer. Of course, there are always new trails to be blazed, but as a fairly new San Diego resident, I think it’s impressive when I rattle off (in a heartbeat) more than a dozen independently owned coffee shops in the county, all of which I frequent. They may even know my somewhat unusual order by memory: “Can I have a soy, [insert name for medium-size], iced, dirty-chai, please?”

I digress.

The Review Actually Begins Here:

The thing I love most about Bankers Hill’s Cafe Bassam, is its true individuality. It has such a vintage/European/cool 1920’s vibe that I never see in Cali Cafes. Just entering the dark, moody interior makes me feel more cultured. There are wall-to-wall whosits and whatsits galore (Little Mermaid reference) that spark my interest. Maybe it’s the collection of old rifles strapped to the walls that make me feel like I am the victim of time travel. Yes, rifles, several of them. Not to mention, a collection of flasks!

On the menu is not only coffee and espresso, but also wine, a very large assortment of loose leaf teas, cigars, baked goods like baklava and sandwiches. As mentioned, my drink of choice is an iced chai latte with an added shot of espresso (affectionately known as “dirty chai”) — and Cafe Bassam makes the best one. Maybe it’s the fancy glass or romantic ambiance, but I adore this drink. It’s a perfect combination of sweetness from the chai (I’m pretty sure they use a powder) and strong espresso. I’ve also had just a regular hot chai latte, (which they tell me is their most popular drink), dusted with cinnamon atop foam. On other occasions I have gone more traditional, ordering a delightful cappuccino, priced just around $5 (like most of the beverages). All have impressed.

Don’t Dine-and-Dash

By the way, the payment method at Cafe Bassam is European style, meaning that if you wish to enjoy your beverage there (recommended) don’t forget to revisit the counter when you are finished to pay for your drink. Sorry men, the pretty women that work here (seriously, I’ve noticed that) are not giving you a freebie; please pay your bill.

One Disappointment

Now that I have raved, I should tell you I am pretty disappointed in one thing at Cafe Bassam. The free Wi-Fi wasn’t properly connected during my last two visits. The barista was very apologetic about the issue, and restarted the router for me, but to no avail. She said that it may be due to the fact that their network is not password protected, so neighbors can steal it, which results in high use and problems. It’s a bummer, but I think Cafe Bassam is the type of place you frequent with a date, a good friend or a book anyway, NOT work or Facebook — just my opinion. But you should probably trust my judgment; I am a bit of a coffee shop snob.

Cafe Bassam
3088 5th Avenue, San Diego, 92103 (Bankers Hill)

Open daily 8:30 a.m. to Midnight


About the Author

is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur and proud “foodie”. She has made consuming/writing about food and coffee her favorite pastime. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Biola University, where she wrote restaurant reviews for her school newspaper. She has brewed up frothy goodness at three different coffee shops and currently works in the communications industry. LinkedIn | Twitter

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