we, little Seattle?
By Nathan Welton
April 25, 2005
There are more coffee cafes here than Sheriff's Department patrol cars,
state and county fire engines or high schools.
to be exact.
In fact, a new study shows more shops sell espresso shots
and lattes between Nipomo and Paso Robles -- per capita -- than almost
anywhere else in the country.
"No waaaay," said Holly Jantzen, manager of the Higher Groundz
cafe on Broad Street in San Luis Obispo. "That's cool."
to the NPD Group, a company that does market research for the restaurant
industry, San Luis Obispo County ranks ninth in America in its concentration
of java shops. They dot the streets at a rate of one for every 6,250
That's a lot of coffee.
Higher Groundz serves up to 400 people daily,
replenishing its supply with up to 50 pounds of beans a week, Jantzen
Cities in the coffee culture's birthplace of the Pacific Northwest,
such as Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Olympia, Wash., ranked slightly
higher. Topping the list was Anchorage, Alaska, at one shop per 3,570
"I don't feel like there are too many or too few here," said
19-year-old Cal Poly student Michele Tondreau, an avowed coffee fanatic
who works at Linnaea's Café.
"It's just right in this town -- there's a selection," she
said. "Different shops attract different people."
coffee fans were surprised. Others shrugged.
"We've been aware of that -- not that exact (figure), but there
are a lot of coffee shops," said Uptown Espresso manager Eric Pettis.
allure of a humble cafe and a cozy sofa is surely understandable in, say,
Anchorage, where the daytime temperature stays below freezing for much
of the year.
A dry place to warm up seems to work well in the rainy metropolis
of Seattle as well.
It doesn't make so much sense to many in sunny San Luis
"I'm not sure why San Luis Obispo is ranked ninth," said Tondreau,
at Linnaea's. "You'd think a lot of places in the Northeast would
have an abundance of coffee shops, but I guess it depends on the city
She said San Luis Obispo's downtown is a good place for
the coffee business because so many people are on foot.
New York City, with
its 9.4 million residents, didn't even place on the NPD Group's list. It's
got just one shop for every 16,700 people.
"There are so many doughnut shops in the East Coast," Tondreau
said. "People could be thinking, 'I don't want any coffee, I just
want a doughnut.' "