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From Mocha Marketplace, to Old Cal, to Ascend: San Marcos coffee shop set to close March 1

Erin+Harper+stands+in+Old+California+Coffee+House+in+San+Marcos+in+August+2022+during+the+shop%E2%80%99s+transition+to+Ascend+Coffee+Roasters.+%28NCC+file+photo+by+Jen+Acosta%29
Erin Harper stands in Old California Coffee House in San Marcos in August 2022 during the shop’s transition to Ascend Coffee Roasters. (NCC file photo by Jen Acosta)

A longtime San Marcos spot for coffee and community gatherings will brew its last cup in Old California Restaurant Row on March 1.

Ascend Coffee Roasters made the announcement official on social media Friday, Feb. 16.

The coffee brand itself isn’t going anywhere, however. Ascend recently opened a second location in south Carlsbad as it prepared for the closure of the entire Restaurant Row property for new development. Owners have said they hope to return to San Marcos in the future.

A Mocha Marketplace advertisement from December 1992. (Pioneer, CSU San Marcos collection)
A Mocha Marketplace advertisement from December 1992.

“Thank you San Marcos for three decades of memories, friendships, and the best community ever. We will be open at 7 am everyday until March 1st,” Ascend stated on social media in a post titled “No unhappy endings.” “This coffee shop has survived so much and has felt indestructible at times. Who would have thought it would stand strong up until the very end.”

The coffee shop has been a Restaurant Row staple since 1990, when it opened as Mocha Marketplace, setting itself up as a go-to for the college crowd as California State University San Marcos started holding its first classes.

Mocha Marketplace became Old California Coffee House and Eatery in the 2000s under its second owner, Tonya Buchanan, and the name continued through owners Kimry Wells and Kenny Morris followed by Giovanna and Craig Garcia, who owned the shop for more than 10 years until selling to partner Erin Harper in 2022, who brought the shop under her new Ascend Coffee Roasters brand.

Ascend’s Carlsbad location is at 231 Camino De Los Coches, Suite 107, in La Costa.


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]northcoastcurrent.com.

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)
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