Coffee Shops - Central Coast California

I never spent much time in the Central Coast of California, until I started dating a man who was raised in the Central Coast.

When we decide to get married in Templeton, California we ended up spending even more time down there.

What I've discovered is this: it's a gorgeous area of the state/country! The vineyards make it an incredibly romantic vacation destination and the ocean gives you all the California feels without the LA crowds.

As people start to migrate south from San Francisco and north from LA this area is starting to offer more than just pretty views. Boutique hotels, farm to table restaurants and artisan coffee shops are popping up everywhere.

When we travel home to visit Ryan's parents we're always looking for our coffee fix. And as new shops open up we continue to stop by and judge, (uhhh I mean rate) them. Here are a few of the places we've visited so far:

1. Scout Coffee - San Luis Obispo

2. Kraken Coffee - Avila Beach

Scroll down for an in depth view of each.

Scout Coffee - San Luis Obispo

Scout Coffee has become almost as much of a staple for us as Firestone Grill (home of the world's BEST tri tip sandwich).

We love it for lots of reasons but perhaps most of all for the space. It's bright, it's clean, it's eye catching with brick, tile and wall papered walls and it's trendy in it's minimalist design.

Plus, they have a small store crafted into it with all things Pinterest worthy including cards, notebooks, cook books and ceramics that are almost impossible to pass up.

Their friendly staff, artisan pastry and of course their coffee are all other great reasons to stop by. We highly recommend their pour over coffees which are measured and weighed throughout the pouring process (trust us, that's a good sign).

Things we would be happy to see some improvement on:

-although the pastry is good, it's just that good, not great. Croissants (and in my opinion all pastries) should be flaky and browned on top. If they're looking a little pale and limp they might taste okay but they won't be a reason for a repeat visit

-their lattes are poured into 16oz cups, this for some might not matter but for me it's an immediate sign of amateur hour. Again, it's my opinion, but for me I don't think a latte should ever be more than 12oz (especially if Starbucks isn't on the cup). Why? Because a latte should never have more than 6 to 8 ounces of milk in it and an espresso shot is about 2 ounces. If you fill a 16oz cup you're either pouring me a double shot or adding more milk than any adult needs in a single day.

Ambiance - Only marked down one point because the chairs are stylish and beautiful but not overly comfortable. Pretty but not functional.

Coffee - This is an average of Ryan and I's scores. He rated his much higher than I rated mine. Although I drank the whole latte and it pains me to mark down a place I love, a 16oz latte is an automatic 5 in my book.

Welcoming - We have never had an unpleasant moment at Scout. The staff have always been kind and helpful with their suggestions.

Pastry - To quote Ryan, "it's good for the area." Meaning it's better than you might be able to get elsewhere downtown SLO but compared to the pastry we know can be produced there is still room for improvement.

With a score of 31/40 that gives Scout Coffee a 78% in our book. That might seem low but we might just be too picky. If you're downtown San Luis Obispo and need a coffee fix promise you'll go here over Starbucks or Peet's. You' won't regret it!

Kraken Coffee - Avila Beach

First and most importantly if you haven't been to Avila beach you need to change that as soon as possible. It's a charming beach community with great restaurants, affordable boutique hotels, a park overlooking the sand and a farmer's market on summer Friday nights.

We came across Kraken Coffee when the fires in Yosemite diverted our family's vacation from camping in the forest to a week on the beach instead.

In Avila there is one main ocean front street with all the restaurants and shops centrally located. Although there is coffee available in the restaurants and markets, Kraken is the only actual coffee shop available.

It's got great views of the ocean, a dedicated theme throughout the whole space (upstairs and downstairs) and the best available pastry on the strip.

That said, keep in mind that for your only real option in Avila, it's not bad but it might not hold up against some of the coffee shops in Northern and Southern California.

The positives:

-I like any coffee shop that includes an additional shopping area. The only thing better than drinking coffee and shopping is drinking coffee and reading. Although they get points for having a store I'd argue there selection was a little off (the only proof I have of this is that I didn't have to talk myself out of buying anything).

-The view and location are ideal! You can stay for awhile and enjoy the sea air morning while watching families stake out their beach spots for the day or you can choose to take your coffee on the go and enjoy the downtown strip.

-There's plenty of seating with upstairs and downstairs options.

The negatives:

-The staff seems young and by young I mean mainly under trained and uneducated when it comes to the coffee they are serving. One mentioned that they would rather eat a bowl of honey nut cheerios than eat their pastry on a regular basis.

-Which brings us to the pastry. We agree with the barista. Although okay, the pastries weren't anything spectacular and if we were locals we too would have chosen our honey nut cheerios over them. Ryan's bear claw was $5, which if it was worth a repeat visit would be okay but being that they're forgettable at best they may want to switch their pastry provider or lower their margins.

-The bathroom is only accessible through a flight of stairs. For Ryan and I this isn't a huge concern but since we both have dad's that have a hard time walking we are always looking to see if a location is handicapped friendly, this location is now.

Ambiance - I loved the the nautical theme. If anything I might have toned it down just a little. And although the floating shelves looked good on the back wall I would paint the hardware to help blend it in or put in a little more effort and hide the hardware completely (that seems petty I know but I really believe it's the attention to detail that matters most).

Coffee - We both ordered lattes and (for our personal tastes) the coffee was a little too dark and the milk was over steamed. In general the coffee left us with the same mouth coat feeling you might get after drinking a cup of Pike's Place.

Welcoming - The staff did not know what was going on. And were borderline rude to customers waiting for their beverages.

Pastry - All we have to say is, honey nut cheerios. The pastries were too sweet and definitely not freshly baked that day.

With only 20 points out of 40 a 50% might not seem great but again, for the area....it's not bad.

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