Eric Johnson is ready to Spill the Beans


San Diego bartender and mixology master Eric Johnson has embarked on a new adventure in the San Diego scene with the opening of Spill the Beans. Adjacent to restaurant/bar The Smoking Gun, the coffee shop was inspired by love and addiction to the energizing beverage.

Offering coffee from Dark Horse Roasters, sandwiches and a mouthwatering array of bagels and flavored cream cheeses, the locale is a good on the way to, or from, work.

Flavor bomb varieties of bagels include bacon and white cheddar; pear, cranberry, vanilla and cinnamon; and a heat spiked serrano, habanero and jack cheese.

Upping the cream cheese game, Spill the Beans offers strawberry, basil and balsamic; white truffle and parmesan; and the wasabi, ginger and soy.

For an after work pick-me-up, check out the frozen cocktails Frapper’s Delight, made with coffee and rum, and the Frosé, made with rosé and garnished with fresh strawberries.

PACIFIC recently caught up with Johnson to find out more about his new venture and a few of his favorite selections.

PACIFIC: You’ve been on a journey from Sycamore Den to The Smoking Gun. What led to your decision to open Spill the Beans?

JOHNSON: My partner Aron Langellier was trying to figure out the best use of the large space we had (with The Smoking Gun). The only thing we really loved outside of the bar/restaurant world was coffee. We drink a lot of it! We figured this would help our addiction and be a fun new project.

With so many incredible coffee roasters in San Diego, how did you settle on Dark Horse?

I met the owners long ago when we opened Sycamore Den. They’ve always been the desired coffee no matter how far away I was from their location. I’ve kept in touch, they really are a great family to work with, and their product sets them apart from most.

You have unique combinations for cream cheese flavors. How were they concocted?

Our chef, Kevin Templeton, put together the cream cheeses. He has a beautiful mind. He thinks of these things and they come out better than I ever expected. He’s really a huge part of Verant Group’s success.

Your favorite bagel and cream cheese combo?

Lately, I’ve been doing the bacon and white cheddar bagel with red chili and garlic cream cheese for a nice savory side. When I’m feeling a case of the sads I’ll get the pear, cranberry, vanilla and cinnamon bagel with agave and vanilla cream cheese as a guilty pleasure.

Let’s talk coffee and booze. What’s your favorite coffee cocktail?

The Revolver, an old fashioned variation with bourbon, Dark Horse cold brew, cane sugar, barrel-aged whiskey and orange bitters.

What’s the secret to making a balanced cocktail at home?

At home, if somebody else makes the cocktail, it always makes it taste better than if you made it yourself. Stick to the basics for balance with spirit, light sweet, citrus, ice and bitters if needed.

Spill the Beans

When: Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (bagels served until 3pm)

Where: 555 Market St., Gaslamp

Info: 619.233.3836 or