Public Square Coffee House is more than just another cafe – it’s a place built to bring people together over good coffee, good food, and good vibes. Owner Aaron Henderson gives Kyle Whissel a behind the scenes look of how exactly make their amazing scones, coffee, and the ideology behind the entire restaurant.
Public Square Coffee House
Address: 8278 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91942
Phone Number: (619) 777-8273
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Where can you get some of the best coffee in all of East county? Today on “Everything East County” we’re here at Public Square coffee house in the Village of La Mesa. Let’s get to it. All right, dude, thanks for having us here.
Yeah of course, man, thanks for coming.
So, tell us about the shop, man. You guys are, you’ve been around for a couple years now right?
Yeah so we’re in our third year. I mean, actually, this month is technically our third year. And it’s just been exciting to be part of the community. We like to say that we are a shop that was built by a community for a community. So not just a cafe that provides coffee and food, but also intimately involved in the local community here.
The concept of Public Square comes back from this idea that original civilizations all had some sort of public square where you went whether it’s, y’know, the piazza, or the plaza, or whatever else they called it at that time, the agoras. But that’s where you went for arts, and culture, and news, and food, and community, and I just kind of feel like in the west, specifically the west coast, by the time you’ve got out here and you’ve got kind of the suburban sprawl, we’ve lost some of that sense of centered place and community, yeah. Y’know, that third space of gathering, y’know. So, yeah.
So what’s kind of the goal then, when people come in, what’s the vibe you want them to feel?
It’s just, like an immediate sense of belonging, and just the second that they walk in, that they feel like they’re cared for, I mean up on that all says “You matter to me”, and that’s the sense we want to give away, y’know. Is that, when they sit down at a table, they have our food, they have a coffee, they have the experience at the register, that the entire experience is a sense of excellence, and when they see that sense of excellence, they feel valued, they feel cared for, and that the words on the wall actually mean something, they’re not just put up on the wall for no reason.
So what makes your actual coffee better than everybody else?
So we serve what’s called specialty coffee. Specialty coffee, as far as like a grade, is considered high quality coffee. It would be on the higher end of that grading system. We are what’s called a Multi-Roaster, which means that we don’t just specialize in one specific roaster, whether that be local roaster, or a roaster beyond, y’know, nationally or internationally. But we typically have about three to five different roasters and most of the roasters that we carry as far away as Toronto, or Arkansas, or y’know, Seattle, they have all won awards. So these are all kind of like award winning coffees that are really hard to get a hold of, and we like to give the local coffee community here access to that, as well as roasting our own coffee as well.
And then, as far as like the menu what makes you guys different from like, a traditional coffee shop?
So I think the only difference between us and like a traditional specialty coffee shop is that we do actually make a lot of food from scratch. That was, I guess, kind of one of my pet peeves, is going to get a really good cup of coffee and then being like “man, but I’m hungry” y’know?[Kyle] And then they pull it out of the plastic bag and heat it up
Yeah! You just kind of pull the pastry out of the cupboard and kind of put it on a plate. So for us, we really wanted to have a space where there is actually some legitimate food that you can have with a good cup of coffee.
All right man, I’m hungry, let’s go back in the kitchen.
Yeah, let’s do it man.
Dude, what are we making today.
So the first thing I think we want to make for you is what we’re know for. We’ve got a sign in the window to prove it. But we’re known for the scone. So, kind of the story behind this scone is I love scones, I’m a big fan of scones, I wanted to have it in our shop, I knew ahead of time I wanted to do it. My wife, on the other hand, who is our head chef didn’t want to. She does not like scones. And so kind of our compromise is she worked for months coming up with this incredible recipe for a very unique scone. It’s more on the kind of European, English side of a scone. It’s real crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside And then we also, on top of that, we worked on a bunch of different scone recipes for different flavors of scones. Y’know like orange, lavender, and all kinds of different things. And we put them out to our friends, had them eat them, had them test them, and we couldn’t get a consensus. And so we’re like, ah, y’know, it’s going to be tough to stock all of these scones, and keep them fresh, which ones should we keep? And then, all of a sudden it’s like this light bulb moment we realized, let’s make compound butters. We make them at home, and so we just make a plain sugar scone, and then we have all these different compound flavored butters that we make, and we usually carry about six of them. Anywhere between about five to seven, plus some seasonal ones that come in and out. And people can just put those right on top
Flavor them yourself!
Flavor them, yeah, exactly, it’s amazing.
I love it. So walk me through kind of the preparation here, and how this comes together.
Yeah, so right now, I mean, some of the stuff that she’s mixing all seems like it’s normal stuff, right? Looks like butter, flour, salt, sugar, but it is all how you make it, it’s all how they come together. Especially with scones, it has a lot to do with how you layer the butter, how you form it together, making sure that you’re not really mixing it together too much because then it gets kind of real gummy and gooey. So she’s really paying attention to that right now as she’s putting it together.
All right, so, we got this bad boy all cut up, what are we doing next?
Okay, so the next thing that she’s going to do, she’s going to prep it, usually she’s going to do it with a little bit of sugar, some milk, that way it gets a nice glaze on it, gets a perfect rise on it. She’s going to throw them in the oven, and we usually throw them in the oven for about seven minutes.
So what coffee are you going to pair up with this delicious scone today?
Yeah, so the coffee that we’re going to do today is a black sesame latte. The reason I chose that is, first of all, it’s one of our most popular latte drinks that we have and that we carry here. But the other thing that makes it really special is there’s no one else here in San Diego that has it. I’m half-Filipino, so it’s a little bit of my Asian culture and Asian flair that we brought into it. But basically it’s black sesame, it’s coconut cream, and organic maple syrup, and it’s nutty, and sweet, and creamy, and not too sugary. Just enough to where you can still taste the coffee. It’s just a really good flavor, very unique.
So what happens when this comes out of the oven?
Yeah, so she just pulled it out of the oven, she puts it up on the tray to start cooling, we let it cool for just a couple minutes, and then from there she starts popping them down on our boards. We have these really cool little custom boards that we made just for our shop. And she’ll put them on the board, she’ll cover them with a little bit of powdered sugar just to make sure that it looks nice and pretty. And then from there, she just starts putting on the butters. Right now, we have maple conyan, we have cranberry orange and a pumpkin pie for of course the seasonal. But we also have a guava butter, we have a lemon poppy seed butter, we have blueberry tea butter, so these are all real popular flavors.
Yeah, I love it. All right guys, I’m super excited to dive into this dish. I’ve come here and I’ve had coffee before, but I haven’t had the food. This looks amazing, and after seeing everything that goes into it, I cannot wait. I’m just going to dip it in here. I love the idea of the compound butters, they got a flight here of all the different compound butters they’re serving right now. This thing is super warm. Wow, that, the finish on that is so perfect. It’s nice and warm, it’s got a crisp on the outside, super soft inside, it’s not that flaky stuff like you get at some of the other coffee shops. Then you got a variety of different butters to dip it in, finish it off with a killer latte, you guys you need to come check it out. Public Square coffee house, in La Mesa, in the Village, super cool people, super cool vibe here, you guys will love it. Hopefully you guys enjoyed this episode of “Everything East County”. If you did, we’d love for you to share it so more people can learn about Public Square coffee house, learn about “Everything East County”. Share it, comment, like it, we appreciate you guys for watching, thanks so much. We’ll see you next week.