Restaurant News & Reviews

A new coffee bar is open in downtown SLO — and its brewing method is from the 1800s 

A new coffee shop just landed in the downtown San Luis Obispo scene — but its brews are old-school.

Kin Coffee Bar, owned by local brothers Julian and Christian Contreras, is now open at 847 Higuera Street.

Julian Contreras said the shop is taking “a more aggressive take on coffee” with grittier brews and locally crafted Cacti Coffee Roasters beans.

While there’s no shortage of coffee in San Luis Obispo, Kin does things a bit differently. The shop’s signature brewing technique, siphon brewing, is from another age entirely.

Siphon brewing was popular in the 1800s and uses a two-chamber system over an open flame. Water is heated in the lower chamber, and vapor pressure forces it into the upper chamber to mix with coffee grounds. Ready-to-drink, full-body coffee drips down into the lower chamber.

The once vogue technique is matched by antique furniture and decor in the shop, which all date back to the World War eras.

Kin takes its caffeine so seriously, a paper filter won’t be found in the shop. Only mesh and cloth filters are used, which Contreras said allows the coffee oils and full flavor to remain in the coffee.

In addition to coffee, Kin also offers organic, first-harvest Japanese matcha from Encha. The tea is prepared ceremonially with a whisk — even when it’s going into a latte. Matcha drinks include mochas, lattes and the Amethyst, a signature drink with house-made lavender syrup, matcha and lavender bud garnish.

Pastries are from Morro Bay’s Buttercup Bakery & Cafe and include matcha cupcakes and activated charcoal macarons.

The shop has a hole-in-the-wall vibe to it, despite its peak downtown location.

“We moved away from creating separate nooks to make the whole space one big nook,” Contreras said. “So people can converse fluidly throughout the whole cafe and bar area.”

The just under 900-square-foot space offers a cozy and intimate atmosphere. With limited space for all-day seating, Contreras said the cafe is geared toward making connections, as opposed to study sessions.

Events like open mic, comedy and gypsy jazz are planned to start up soon weekend nights. The shop is also in the process of getting an alcohol license, so libations are expected to accompany the festivities.

While the brothers grew up in San Luis Obispo, the Contreras family is from gypsy lineage in Mexico City. Their family inspired the shop name.

“Growing up, my mom would always say your kin is here, not your uncle or your cousin,” Contreras said. “We even called our friends that.”

The shop’s logo, a planchette dial from a ouija board, is also inspired from their roots. Growing up, their family members would use ouija boards frequently.

Hours of the shop, which had a soft opening Aug. 2, are from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 6:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Hours may vary before the shop is officially open.

For more information, visit @kin.slo on Instagram.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune