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.

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.

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.

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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