On The Menu: Copper Top Coffee & Donuts, a new sweet treat for Pacific Beach (2024)

With specialty donuts and fresh coffee, Copper Top Coffee & Donuts has planted its roots in Pacific Beach with a dedication to spread a sense of community.

From all the classics like glazed and sprinkled, to gourmet and funky flavors that include crunchy granola and house-made drizzles, Copper Top is Pacific Beach’s one stop shop for all things sweet and caffeinated.

Located on Mission Boulevard, Copper Top welcomed its first slew of new customers in December. The shop is blocks from the beach and in its short time open, the eye-catching and equally Instagram-worthy donuts have gained traction from passersby and longtime fans.

Founded in 2018, Copper Top’s flagship location in Hillcrest closed its doors in spring 2022. Now, owner Josh McCorkle said he is thrilled to be back in action, with house-made ingredients and a readiness to reestablish the brand.

“I am happy to be as close to the beach as we could get,” McCorkle said. “The timing of this opening is great, and it is all falling together perfectly.”

When originally opening Copper Top, McCorkle had several goals in mind, and with a new location, he is sticking to them.

“I have always wanted to offer something unique,” he said. “I wanted to create something that is different than what is out there. I first started by going on Yelp and looking at all the donut shops with one-star reviews. I noticed three things that always seemed to pop up, complaints of stale donuts, overpriced donuts and a high sell-out rate.”

McCorkle saw a trend of popular spots around San Diego whose items would gain popularity on social media and by word-of-mouth, but quickly sell out.

“I saw a lot of people complain about items selling out and wanted to create something that was fresh, accessible and make sure we never ran out all day long,” McCorkle said. “I spent hundreds of hours perfecting our donuts.”

McCorkle’s time in the food industry stretches back many years. Raised in Seattle, he always held coffee near and dear to his heart, and knew it was something he wanted to bring down the coast.

“I grew up in Seattle, so I am a coffee fanatic,” he said. “I always knew starting a coffee shop of my own was something I wanted to do.”

The coupling of coffee and donuts seemed a natural fit, and thus the concept of Copper Top was born.

For McCorkle and his team, holding tight to their original recipes and values is vital for the success of the new Pacific Beach location.

“We make some cool toppings,” he said. “Our Copper Top Donut is an in-house salted caramel and in-house maple frosting and it gets dusted with espresso. We also make marshmallow from scratch, which we turn into a s’mores donut. Another favorite is our vanilla frosting, which we use on several donuts. That is a recipe I got from my mom, from cakes she would make while I was growing up.”

When creating the mouth-watering flavor combinations, McCorkle made it a goal to create items that felt and tasted like memories.

“It is a family business and I like to describe it as a place you can have a donut that reminds you of your grandma’s recipe,” McCorkle said. “I want customers to feel nostalgic and be taken back to a simpler time in their lives. That is my inspiration, fresh-made donuts all day long.”

When customers enter Copper Top, they can see the donuts being made, an aspect of the move to Pacific Beach that excited McCorkle.

“It is a great aspect of our new location; I think this is such a neat addition. It is designed to be an open kitchen, where you see and smell the donuts being made,” McCorkle said. “That wraps up getting a donut and coffee into an entire experience.”

Another draw to Pacific Beach was the sense of community McCorkle and many on his team have.

“We work here, we live here, we ride our bikes to work,” he said. “It is really like working and living within a community. Owning a coffee shop is a very community-based endeavor and I wanted this new location to be bikeable and in a community I am part of. We donate to the local schools and businesses and really help the locals.

“The same can be said for when we were located in Hillcrest, I used to live over there when the shop was open and when I moved I really took the business with me.”

In addition to donuts, Copper Top has a lengthy list of beverages and other bites. From all the favorites like cold brew and cappuccinos, to more unique flavors like its Copper Rose Latte, chaga and lavender lattes and Mexican Hot Chocolate. In the food department, they are currently serving breakfast sandwiches, acai bowls and parfaits in addition to donuts.

Since opening, the most popular drink has been the salted caramel latte, with Copper Top’s signature homemade caramel sauce. As far as donut popularity, French Toast, the Copper Top and Nutella Banana have been the best sellers thus far.

With business in full swing, McCorkle and the Copper Top team are eager to continue sharing flavorful, unique and fresh recipes with Pacific Beach. McCorkle is eagerly awaiting summer, when he is confident Copper Top’s optimal beach location will offer a sweet getaway to beachgoers, walkers and everyone in the area.

Recipe from Copper Top Coffee & Donuts

Copper Top’s signature marshmallow recipe


9 eggs, thawed in shells in warm water

2 1/2 C. corn syrup

2 1/2 C. sugar

1 C. water

2 tsp. cream of tartar

2 to 4 tsp. vanilla, or to desired taste


For the caramel sauce:

1 – On a stove at medium heat, combine corn syrup, sugar and water. Ingredients will have a caramel consistency.

2 – Once bubbling, and a slight yellow color, proceed in making the meringue.

For the meringue:

1 – Separate the 9 egg whites into a mixer bowl (don’t allow there to be any yolk whatsoever in this mixture. It will prevent the fluff from happening.)

2 – Combine cream of tartar and whisk on medium in a mixer until the meringue is peaked and light and fluffy. Then turn off the mixer.

3 – Combine the caramel sauce (slightly yellow in color) with the meringue. Stirring as you pour slowly together. Hand whisk as you go.

4 – Once combined, put back on the mixer and turn on medium till you get consistency you desire.

5 – Add vanilla to taste.

6 – Store in the refrigerator.

Courtesy of Copper Top Coffee & Donuts

On The Menu: Copper Top Coffee & Donuts, a new sweet treat for Pacific Beach (2024)


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