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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Ascend Coffee Roasters expands to second location in Carlsbad

Ascend Coffee Roasters owner Erin Harper talks to customers during the shop’s Carlsbad grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 6. (Ascend Coffee Roasters photo by Landon Drinkward)

Erin Harper believes that coffee shops can be a vital hub for communities, where conversations and connections take place, and where great drinks, food and ambiance can be enjoyed.

Harper, co-owner of Ascend Coffee Roasters (formerly Old Cal Coffee Co.) at 1080 W. San Marcos Blvd. in San Marcos, has expanded to a second location at 3231 Camino De Los Coches #107 in Carlsbad’s La Costa community. After a soft opening in December and a grand opening on Jan. 6, the shop is now open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There’s already a buzz from locals about the new location, Harper shares, adding that this is the only craft coffee shop in the community.

Opening a new location was part of the natural progression for Ascend Roasters, Harper explains.

“One reason why we started another store was because I had an awesome team, and there was awesome power in one building,” she says.

Real Beans: An ongoing series about local independent coffeeCo-owner Stacey Lopez, who has worked with Harper for the last nine years, will remain as general manager of the San Marcos location, while Andri Santos has been promoted to manager of the Carlsbad location.

Though a redevelopment of the shopping center that houses the San Marcos location has recently been approved, Harper says that they will continue to serve customers at that location as long as they are able.

Harper emphasizes that no matter which location customers visit, they will enjoy top-quality food and drinks every time.

“We want to make craft coffee with homemade syrups and natural flavors, but we want to do it fast,” she says. “We want people to know they can trust us to get them back on the road quickly.”

Along with classics such as fresh brewed coffee, cold brew and cappuccinos, there are enticing treats including the Caramel Brulee Latte, Midnight Mocha, Rosemary Latte and Mexican Mocha — to name a few.

Ascend Coffee Roasters co-owner Stacey Lopez prepares a drink Saturday, Jan. 6, during the shop’s Carlsbad grand opening. (Ascend Coffee Roasters photo by Landon Drinkward)

Light fare, such as artisan toasts and acai bowls, and hearty sandwiches, including chicken pesto, southwest veggie or a breakfast burrito toasted in a panini press, is also offered. You’ll also find classics such as bagels and house-made pastries, and even vegan and gluten-free friendly items.

Customers can order ahead on the coffee shop’s website,

Harper has been a part of the coffee world since high school, bringing that knowledge to Old Cal Coffee Co., then owned by Craig and Giovanna Garcia, in 2011. In 2021, she learned to source and roast coffee beans, which led to the establishment of Ascend Roasters.

Their beans, which are roasted at a facility in San Marcos, were selected by Harper because of their unique qualities. Though their volume has increased, she continues to work with growers directly.

“It’s given me an opportunity to support these villages in a greater way,” she says, adding that this also helps maintain consistency.

Recently, Harper has developed innovative products that bring the craft coffee house experience closer to home.

“I think everyone wants to have coffee prepared for them, and that special service a few times a week — that’s what I like to do,” she says.

But because it isn’t always practical or within budget, she feels that this is another way to bring great quality products with a more intimate experience within reach.

Along with beans, customers can order matcha tea powder, cold brew packs and chai tea bags.

Their products are sold in-store and online, and are freshly prepared so local and out-of-state customers can enjoy the best taste possible.

Watching families visit and kids grow has been one of Harper’s favorite experiences in owning Ascend Coffee Roasters. She hopes that the same will happen with the new location, too, and that customers will learn through them just how special a craft coffee shop can be.

Charlene Pulsonetti is a local freelance writer.

Do you have a favorite independent North Coast coffee shop you’d like to see featured in the Current’s Real Beans series? Let us know at info[at]

Ascend Coffee Roasters owner Erin Harper talks to a customer during the shop’s Carlsbad grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 6. Ascend’s original location in San Marcos remains open as well. (Ascend Coffee Roasters photo by Landon Drinkward )