Kassi Luja
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As the sun peeks through the glass storefront, customers filter into the Anthropologie-esque cafe for their morning dose of caffeine. Coffee perfumes the air as guests are greeted with cheery smiles and bubbly personalities. Groups of 20-somethings percolate the corners and chat amongst themselves, escaping the 7 a.m. chill.

But even before the sun is up and the cafe begins to populate, baristas are behind the counter prepping for the day’s grind.

Downtown San Luis Obispo welcomed a new coffee shop this past week when Scout Coffee Co. opened its doors at 1130 Garden St. Though the cafe is new to town, it’s been a vision in the works for approximately 10 years.

The two faces behind the project have a history even longer than that. Owners Jon and Sara Peterson have been together for 15 years, married for nine and have a 22-month-old daughter named Lilly. Now, they have their very own coffee shop on the Central Coast as well.

“My wife and I, for a long time, talked about doing this, and even before we knew much about the coffee industry, we wanted to do it,” Jon said.

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The Petersons were living in Santa Cruz (having worked for Verve Coffee Roasters) when they found the perfect location for Scout on one of their many trips to San Luis Obispo.

“We walked around the corner at Marsh (Street) and saw a ‘For Lease’ sign … That was it,” Jon said. “Sara immediately was like, ‘That’s our spot.’”

The next day, Sara called the landlord and everything started falling into place. The Petersons moved to town this past July, and signed the lease for Scout’s future location the next month.

“It was kind of, like, ‘fingers crossed’ that everything was going to work out,” Sara said.

Though the Petersons aren’t originally from San Luis Obispo, they do have connections in the area. Not only do they have friends in town, Jon’s parents lived here before he was born.

Now, San Luis Obispo and Garden Street have come to be home for the little family. Lilly, in particular, is enjoying the coffee shop life.

“She hangs out here with us all the time,” Sara said. “I think it’s going to be a fun place for her to grow up.”

Balancing raising a toddler and managing a new coffee shop might seem daunting, but Jon is indifferent.

“We love to work,” Jon said. “We love interacting with the community. Our little girl really loves it here. She runs around … She actually sweeps. We didn’t teach her that, she just does it. Our work is also our life. I wake up and I’m excited to go to work.”

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The cafe’s light, jovial atmosphere paired with its outdoorsy design sets the shop apart from others in San Luis Obispo.

The natural decor is complete with exposed brick walls, wooden stumps, hanging terrariums and reclaimed wood. The bar top itself was made from a 100-year-old tree that fell on South Higuera Street.

“Some of our design elements are kind of vintage-camp inspired,” Jon said.

But nature’s fixture isn’t just apparent in the cafe’s decor — it’s also slightly tied to the shop’s name.

“We think of positive, outdoorsy, cool, vintage design … all of those things are what we think of when we think of Scout,” Jon said. “Something else we’ve kind of talked about after the fact is more of like, ‘We are ‘scouting’ out flavors and trying to find the best coffees that are out there.’”

Scout Coffee Co. serves Verve coffee and uses Chemex as well as Hario V60 for its pour over coffee.

The Petersons aim to source all of their ingredients locally, and they work directly with farms.

“We want to buy the best quality coffee,” Jon said. “We also want to provide a sustainable living wage for people. We don’t believe in buying cheap coffee and selling it at $3 and $4 a cup like a lot of people do, so on some things, our prices are a little bit higher, but we pay significantly more for all of our ingredients across the board than anyone else does. We think it’s a nice luxury in life. It’s one of the few things where you can buy the best that there is for less than $5.”

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Along with coffee, Scout also serves milkshakes made with McConnell’s ice cream from Santa Barbara and seasonal sodas. Both of these items will change depending on the time of the year.

“Our coffees change seasonally as well,” Sara said. “It’ll be fun to kind of introduce that concept to customers because coffee is a fruit, so our coffee menu will be changing just like everything else will.”

On the bakery front, everything the shop serves is baked in-house, including morning buns, croissants, sunshine rolls and the Scout cookie, which Jon said has been a hit.

Though the shop has only been open for a week, it’s already seen its share of business. Customer Andrew Garabedian, who built a sign for the store front, enjoyed a cup of coffee with friends at the new locale.

San Luis Obispo needed a coffee shop like Scout, he said.

Not only is the community embracing the new business in town, but the Petersons are enjoying the warm welcome.

“It’s very rewarding to see people enjoying the space,” Sara said. “It’s a real treat to get to see people enjoying the cookies that I baked and drinks that were handcrafted.”

The Petersons plan to hold a grand opening event on Feb. 1, similar to its Friends & Family night on Jan. 19.

Scout Coffee Co. is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and has free Wi-Fi.

Want to know more? Here are a handful of Scout’s menu items:

Cappuccino —  “Our espresso is really sweet; it doesn’t have like a deep bitterness that other espressos have,” Jon said.

Honey Tea Bowl — “(It’s) steamed soy milk and honey with chamomile and clementine tea,” Sara said. “It’s really creamy and sweet. It doesn’t have any caffeine, so it’s just a really comforting drink.”

Morning buns — with cinnamon and sugar; made out of croissant dough

Sunshine rolls — another version of the morning bun, but with an orange glaze

Scout cookie — “The Scout cookie has been really, really popular,” Jon said. “My wife has worked on the cookie … toasted pecans, oats, three kinds of chocolate. It’s a really thick cookie … a little bit like crunchy on the outside but really soft on the inside.”

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