Business

This SLO coffeehouse is one of California’s best small businesses

Customers gather at Scout Coffee Co. on Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo. The company was recently honored as “Small Business of the Year” for California’s 35th State Assembly district.
Customers gather at Scout Coffee Co. on Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo. The company was recently honored as “Small Business of the Year” for California’s 35th State Assembly district. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

As their second San Luis Obispo coffee shop nears its first anniversary, Scout Coffee Co. owners Jon and Sara Peterson have something to celebrate.

The company, whose high-profile fans include “Bridesmaids” star Kristen Wiig and “Good Eats” host Alton Brown, was recently named “Small Business of the Year” for California’s 35th State Assembly district, according to Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham.

Cunningham, a Republican whose district covers San Luis Obispo County and part of northern Santa Barbara County, presented the Petersons with their award Monday in Sacramento at an event sponsored by the California Small Business Association.

“It’s quite an honor,” Sara Peterson said.

The Petersons got their start in the java business while working at Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz — Sara as regional operations manager and Jon as marketing director. They relocated to San Luis Obispo in 2013.

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Jon and Sara Peterson are the owners of Scout Coffee Co., which was recently honored as “Small Business of the Year” for California’s 35th State Assembly district. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Today, Scout Coffee Co. employs about 45 people at two popular San Luis Obispo locations. The company’s first coffeehouse opened in 2014 at 1130 Garden St. — Automobile Club of California’s Westways magazine recently featured the spot as a “picture-perfect pit stop” — and a second store opened at 880 Foothill Blvd. in August 2016.

The move to University Village Plaza allowed the company, already feeling cramped downtown, to stretch out and reach a new group of customers, including college students and neighborhood families, Sara Peterson said.

“You have to keep going. You have to keep growing,” Peterson said. “Otherwise, I feel that you’re kind of dying.”

The Petersons started a commercial roasting company in San Luis Obispo in 2015. In addition to the two Scout Coffee locations, HoneyCo Coffee Roasters supplies a handful of local businesses including San Luis Obispo marketing agency Rosetta, The Spoon Trade restaurant in Grover Beach and Justin Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles.

According to Jon Peterson, Scout Coffee Co. has seen double-digit sales growth each year, with the majority of profits being put back into the business.

Although the Petersons have no current plans for a third store, they’re looking to expand, Jon Peterson said, especially online, where demand is growing for official Scout Coffee Co. merchandise and gift cards. In addition to mugs and brewing devices, company shops now offer retail items such as cookbooks, jewelry and greeting cards.

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Menu options at Scout Coffee Co. in San Luis Obispo include lemon pistachio shortbread, a chocolate raspberry scone, a Scout cookie and an almond jam croissant. The company was recently honored as “Small Business of the Year” for California’s 35th State Assembly district. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Asked what sets Scout Coffee Co. apart from more than a dozen local competitors, Sara Peterson said the difference starts with high-quality coffee roasted in-house and pastries made daily from scratch. (A new menu featuring heartier food options will be launched at the end of summer.)

“We’re literally serving the best (coffee) that you can get on the planet,” she said, crafted by highly trained employees in a clean, airy environment.

“We try to create atmospheres with soul,” Peterson explained. “When they’re in the store … I want people to feel good and feel happy and feel inspired.”

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