Local Must

Local MustSara Peterson, co-owner of Scout Coffee, shares the story of launching her cafe, which has the best coffe in San Luis, her lessons learned and advice for others and where she loves to eat, drink and hike in San Luis Obispo as part of the Dirt Road Travels city travel guide to SLO.

San Luis Obispo, California

Scout Coffee

"A cafe where everyone feels welcome, and feels like it's their place."

Sally Loo's
SloDoCo Donuts + Coffee
Montaña de Oro State Park
SLO Provisions
Ruby Rose
Central Coast Brewing
The Station
Sidecar Cocktail Co.
Luna Red

Scout Coffee

"A cafe where everyone feels welcome, and feels like it's their place."

Recommended by:
Jon & Sara Peterson, Scout Coffee

Our Story

"We moved here to start a business and didn't really have that many connections to the town. It just seemed like the right thing to do. After my daughter was born, that was the catalyst. We'd been saving our money for eight or nine years, not exactly knowing...when you look back you can connect the dots, but when you're in it, I didn't know Scout was going to happen.

We knew that it was either now or never in terms of starting a business. We kept our full-time jobs and worked opposite shifts and just tried to make it work. We knew, 'If we don't try it, I think we are going regret it.' And you don't want to live with regret, so we just went for it.

We quit our jobs.

We moved to SLO and we didn't have our lease for Scout signed yet and we didn't have our financing lined up and we had to put our entire life's savings into it. 

The way the banks work is you have to spend your whole injection before they release the loan because they want to make sure you're invested, so we spent every penny of our life savings, and even then, we were still waiting on the banks to release the loan. 

So we ended up taking a credit card and maxing it out - $20,000 - to get our staff hired and trained. We did the buildout ourselves because we couldn't afford architects or a contractor or anything like that. John learned to do everything - electrical, plumbing, tile - basically how to build.  

I'm passionate about a lot of things and customer service is one of those things. Having a clean space, a welcoming atmosphere where you can feel inspired. Scout is a space that everybody feels welcome and feels like this is their place, and we worked hard at that.

But we don't ever feel like we have made it, we don't ever feel like we've arrived. We just won the Small Business of the Year for our area, but there's still so much to improve, things to do, things to get better at. 

I think that's what keeps our edge though, is that we're never satisfied and we're always trying to do better, be better.

I do have these moments when I walk in the store and the sun is shining and the music is playing and the tables are full, and there's just that buzz and it gets emotional for me sometimes! It's just like, 'Ahh! Thank you, everybody! You're here! We did it!'"

Love Most about SLO

"I loooove California, I love San Luis! The backdrop of the rolling hills and the proximity to the ocean and our downtown is so cute. It's all historic buildings, and there's just an abundance of produce and markets. 

There's still a ton of agriculture around us. In a lot of ways, I feel like San Luis is kind of a step back in time, just like the friendliness and community ideals that there are. Then in other ways, it's progressive, and there's this amazing respect for the environment and for health and wine and art and creativity. 

The Sweetest Little Farm to Table Cafe Sally Loo's Donuts Nearby at SloDoCo Surfing & Cliff Jumping at Montana De Oro State Park

To sum it up, everyone's your neighbor in San Luis. It's a small town and to be honest, it's kind of just an amazing place to be."  

My SLO Musts

"There are so many fun things to do. I think for sure, breakfast at Sally Loo's, which has all organic things. It's a cute little spot. If you want to be fast, eat donuts at SloDoCo and obviously coffee at Scout. Get your day started by heading out into the great outdoors, like Montana de Oro for a hike or jump in the ocean or surfing. 

Then spend the afternoon walking downtown. There are all the little shops like Ruby Rose, which is owned by my dear friend Steph. It's a gem of a store. Then visit SLO Provisions for lunch. Save a little time for wine tasting, like at The Station or you can always grab a beer at Central Coast Brewing. If you need cocktails before dinner, there's Sidecar. They're very creative and their staff is amazing. 

Dinner at either Ember, Luna Red sitting outside or Granada, which also has a great outside patio and a very seasonal, local approach to food. If you're still up for a little fun after dinner, head to Avila to soak in the mineral tubs or catch a movie at the Palm Theater or a show at the Fremont Theater, or head on out to the drive-in, Sunset."

Strawberry Buttermilk Milkshake
Strawberry Buttermilk Milkshake with Vanilla Bean Shortbread & Lemon Pistachio Shortbread

Recommended Content

"There's a new publication called Coyote + Oak. It's a gal named Alexandra who's putting together this magazine with her boyfriend Chris that covers all the way down to Los Angeles. She lives in SLO. It's a cool publication that's a collaborative effort of different writers and photographers with really cool business spotlights and storytelling."

Almond & Blackberry Jam Croissants
Super Grain Muffins
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Scout Coffee


Scout Coffee
Sara Peterson, Co-Owner
Scout Coffee
San Luis Obispo
Sally Loo's
"A sweetheart of a cafe."
SloDoCo Donuts + Coffee
"We drove throughout California, visiting other donut shops to figure out how we could build something different."
Montaña de Oro State Park
"You can walk for miles without seeing another human."
SLO Provisions
"Grab lunch at SLO Provisions."
Ruby Rose
"She's a creative force and it's really a gem of a store."
Central Coast Brewing
"They've got great beer."
The Station
"Save a little time for wine tasting at The Station!"
Sidecar Cocktail Co.
"A family owned business that's very into the craft cocktail scene."
Luna Red
"Eat dinner, sitting outside under the twinkly lights."
"They're just great and they really kind of brought something new and fresh to the coast."
Scout Coffee
"A cafe where everyone feels welcome, and feels like it's their place."

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