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The Local Froth – Our Favorite SLO Coffee Shops!

“You can sleep when you’re dead.” Coffee is a lifeline in more ways than one and nothing is better than a delicious cup of java. Today I had the pleasure of checking out a handful of the local coffee shops and coffee companies near La Isla’s US headquarters in San Luis Obispo and received some great insights into the local coffee culture. Many cups of coffee later and after having visited more than 5 coffee shops, I have no doubt anyone nearby or passing by SLO should check out La Isla’s two favorite local coffee shops, Coastal Peaks Roasters and Bello Mundo Cafe. In our opinion there is no other place in town that tops these guys in coffee quality, locale and friendliness.

Bello Mundo is no ordinary coffee shop. Located in downtown San Luis Obispo at 980 Monterey Street. This little shop is filled with delicious brew, freshly baked treats, and an overwhelming friendly vibe; they definitely live up to their motto of “friendly coffee exploration”. Take a seat at the bar, enjoy a quality espresso or single-origin coffee, and inhale the quaint atmosphere in the heart of downtown. Bello Mundo is currently serving the specialty coffee, Equator Coffee from San Rafael, California, which is the top pick for many of the best coffee connoisseurs. They  also offer a few flavored syrups, all made in house, of course, and also use hand shaven chocolate for all they delicious chocolaty treats like their amazing and unique hot cocoa!

Although the coffee shop is small and offers no Wi-Fi, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind with friends. At Bello Mundo, I was delighted to try a cappuccino made by Jonathan Stauf. It was beautifully crafted, delicious, and came with a fresh, crunchy biscotti. Overall, I would give their coffee a rating of five out of five beans and their service the same. The shop is decorated with local art and does not stop short of making you feel at home.

Coastal Peaks Roasters, located at 3536 South Higuera, is another La Isla favorite, with on-site micro-roasting and contagiously happy baristas. From the moment I walked in the door I was eagerly welcomed. They were more than happy to show me the back roasting room and talk about the coffee culture in San Luis Obispo, as they know it. I got the chance to speak with their head roaster, Phil Grant, who started working in the coffee business at Coffee Bean International in 1996 (no, not The Coffee Bean, this is different). He gave me the lowdown on Coastal Peaks and his opinion of where he thought the coffee culture was going locally.

Phil Grant has poured (no pun) more than 15 years of his life into coffee and was gracious enough to share some of his insights, “I think from when I first got out of Portland, Oregon back in 2001, the coffee culture here is slowly coming around. People say Seattle but I say Portland, Oregon is where all the trends and everything is going on. Over the last 10-12 years as I traveled to northern California and San Fran or LA, you can see it happening and I think San Luis is slowly catching up.”

There aren’t a lot of shops doing roasting or selling brewing equipment. Coastal Peaks Roaster is most certainly an incubator for what’s to come to the central coast of California, “we are like the tip of the iceberg. We have a lot of stuff here that a lot of people in town don’t have, but it is coming. I’m proud of what we do here because we do hit every roast level imaginable and beyond. We have one the darkest French roasts around, its dark, its bitter, but when it’s done in the cup and sits just right its awesome and then we have one of the lightest fruitiest cups. It rivals a couple of shops in town and in the country, which I’m really proud of.”

Another reason Coastal Peaks is so outstanding is how they pick their coffee beans, communicating, sharing and challenging each other. “We definitely don’t agree on everything, which is even better so I know when we get something done in here its like you know we went through a lot of thoughts and processes… we put our experiences together and you have well over 25-30 years of experience. That’s what we do…we generally just talk coffee and the Big Lebowski, that’s it.”

Their experience definitely shows in all their drinks and roasts. Coastal Peaks micro roasts green coffee beans in batches no larger than 45 pounds to ensure quality and control over the roasting process. They sell their roasts to over 70 coffee houses, cafes, and restaurants. Some of the restaurants that carry their roasts are Novo, Luna Red, Robbins, Splash, and Black Sheep.

From determined students to coffee fanatics they cater to a wide demographic. I would give their coffee five out of five beans and their service a five out of five as well. Their barista remade my drink three times while I was touring the roasting room because she didn’t want my cappuccino to be cold. You couldn’t ask for better service!

Their location is a little ways from the center of San Luis and their decorations are nothing special, but the coffee they serve, their friendly wholesome demeanor, and their profound knowledge of the coffee industry put them at the top of my list.  I must say though, the furniture they have is clean and super comfy!  Something rare in SLO coffee shops!

Whether you need a morning pick-me up or want to enjoy an afternoon drinking coffee with friends, I highly recommend you stop by these local La Isla favorites and enjoy some wholesome brew. From the bean to the cup these two spots are more than your average coffee shops; they use fair-trade coffee, put the customer first, and always serve only the best. Get sipping and take us with you!

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