San Luis Obispo is the most populous city in San Luis Obispo County, a vibrant college town that's the cultural and commercial hub of California's Central Coast. With so many college kids around, it's no wonder that there are also a plethora of excellent coffee shops all within walking distance in San Luis Obispo's dynamic downtown. If you're visiting for a weekend getaway, Hotel Cerro and Hotel San Luis Obispo are the newest and most luxurious places to stay. Here are the best coffee shops to start your day, serving good brew accompanied by stimulating conversation.
Scout Coffee is right across the street from Hotel Cerro and they make all of their own syrups, almond milk and pastries, including almond blackberry jam croissants, sweet and savory scones and flaky morning buns. Try a gibraltar with a splash of whiskey syrup or wilderness syrup – a blend of maple, citrus and Douglas fir. There are honey tea bowl milk steamers in flavors like coconut cream and cinnamon fig if you're looking for something sans caffeine, and the coffee shop also doubles as a small gift shop so you can browse home decor, apparel and accessories as you wait.
A San Luis Obispo staple since 1984, Linnaea's Cafe in on charming Garden Street, a few doors down from Scout Coffee. Owner Marianne Orme is a beloved figure in the SLO community and the coffee house regularly hosts poetry readings, art installations and musical performances. Take a seat in the shaded back patio garden beside the fish pond to enjoy a leisurely catch up with a friend as sparrows and finches clean up your pastry crumbs. The coffee here is certainly good, but the breakfast and freshly baked pastries are perhaps even better. There are many gluten-free and vegan treats too, like plant-based tiramisu and a new chocolate peanut butter mocha cake that's so decadent you'd never guess it was vegan. Hotel San Luis Obispo even stocks Linnaea's best-selling rosemary shortbead cookies in their complimentary minibar.
Active Coffee Co
Located in the Creamery Marketplace next to Joliene Bakery, Active Coffee Co brews Coava Coffee from Portland and their specialty are cloud beverages, sweetened with freshly spun cotton candy. These show-stopping lattes and tea drinks are fun for Instagram, with flavors like mint chip matcha cloud, a lemon drop tea cloud with iced tea and pumpkin latte clouds. Kids can get cotton candy pops while coffee purists will respect their single-origin pour overs and precisely pulled espresso drinks. It might seem a little gimmicky, but these drinks are good.
This Berlin-inspired coffee shop's slogan is “Poor But Sexy” and it's named after the hipster Kreuzberg neighborhood in Germany's capital. Guests are welcome to come early and stay late at Kreuzberg California and wine, beer and cocktails are served late into the evening. Strong espresso drinks and nitro cold brew on tap get you started in the morning while strong WiFi and a mellow house soundtrack create the ambiance digital nomads need to work all day. The Bloody Mess – a Bloody Mary and breakfast burrito combo – is a guaranteed hangover cure and even available in a vegan version with soyrizo, avocado, hummus, salsa and seasonal vegetables.
Kin Coffee Bar
One of the newest coffee shops in town, Kin Coffee Bar specializes in coffee, matcha and creative superfood lattes. The shop has a counterculture, bohemian spirit, featuring eclectic décor, plenty of greenery and antique coffee machinery. Owner Julian Contreras was born and raised in San Luis Obispo and opened Kin with his brothers, sourcing beans from Cacti Coffee Roasters in Santa Margarita and ceremonial grade organic matcha directly from tea farmers in Japan. Some of the more unusal beverages worth trying include a wildflower latte with powdered beetroot and butterfly pea flower tea, turmeric matcha elixir and taro matcha latte.