Ryan Chartrand

Looking for something with a little more spice than the neighborhood Starbucks? The streets of San Luis Obispo are home to an eclectic hodgepodge of friendly street-side caf‚s and the occasional exotic coffee cavern.

Whether it’s for an early morning coffee fix or a late-night study fest, these five local cafes are sure to please even the pickiest java aficionados.

Uptown Espresso:
Home of the Velvet Foam
1065 Higuera St.
www.uptownespressoandbakery.com

The Buzz: Whether it’s hot and black or on the rocks, Uptown’s coffee packs a flavorful punch. The caf‚ has formed quite a devoted following of java lovers who even like to send in pictures of where their Uptown has vacationed (Kona, Hawaii is a favorite).

The Spot: Park it in front of the fireplace with a cup o’ joe and a good book.

The Dish: Dragon’s Blood Elixir – sounds like something out of “Harry Potter,” but it’s worth a try.

Steynberg Gallery Tea and Coffee House
1531 Monterey St.
www.steynberggallery.com

The Buzz: The gallery may have just recently been refurbished with a tea and coffee bar, but the drinks are high-quality thirst-quenchers. Still, the main attraction at this gallery-cum-caf‚ is the artwork.

The Spot: Order a drink and, rather than standing around and waiting, take a stroll around the gallery and check out work from the featured artist of the month.

The Dish: Try an iced caramel or chocolate mocha with a cinnamon twist cookie. “All of our coffees – espresso and drip – are Fair Trade organic coffees called ‘Grounds for Change.’ And our chai – SLO Chai – is made locally in San Luis Obispo,” said Haley Stocking, an English senior who works at the gallery’s coffee bar.

Nautical Bean Espresso Bar
11560 Los Osos Valley Rd.
www.nauticalbean.com

The Buzz: Nautical Bean is the diamond in the rough of the Laguna Village shopping center. The caf‚ oozes a mod, bohemian vibe and the menu is packed with tons of lunch specials. Customers also have access to free wireless Internet.

The Spot: Grab a seat on one of the caf‚’s plush couches.

The Dish: Grab your coffee drink of choice with a slice of one of the delicious berry-flavored pies.

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