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Coffee to cry about

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A double shot of espresso shouldn’t taste like it was roasted in an automotive engine. Call me picky, but darn it, coffee without cream or sugar should still taste like candy. Luckily, there are others in SLO who dream of the same thing.

Jen and Brandon Manuele, owners of Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café, have made a big change. They now only brew Intelligentsia Coffee, offering locals the joys of Black Cat Espresso, Intelligentsia’s House Blend, and seasonal varietals via a fresh pour over.

Sally Loo’s menu has always been transparent. Ask the Manueles where the meat on your Sargent Stubby Steak Panini came from, and they’ll tell you. You can catch them shopping with a trailer full of veggies at any of our local farmers markets.

Jen explained the reasoning for switching to coffee roasters like this: “There are a few routes you can go. One is the Sysco truck that rolls up to your door and unloads all of the goods very conveniently and cheaply—and that’s just not our style. We want to strive to be as local and organic as possible. We’re trying to do that across the board, and the coffee thing just kept nagging at us.”

The Los Angeles roaster, Intelligentsia, works directly with the farmers who grow its beans, using a purchasing philosophy called “direct trade.” Instead of trusting a broker’s word that a bean was purchased at a fair price, direct trade is like going to the farmers market for your veggies; it eliminates the middle man.

Intelligentsia works to establish relationships with each of its farmers and helps them produce the best bean possible by improving variables such as soil and water quality. In doing so, the farmer is able to produce a higher-quality, artisan coffee bean. It’s an intimate exchange, as it allows those who brew Intelligentsia Coffee to put a face to every bean and to proudly brew a cup of joe that doesn’t have the lingering aftertaste of injustice.

“I know where every bean comes from,” Brandon said. “I know the elevation it’s grown at. I know when it was harvested—all of that information is available for us. It’s just a more conscious consumption of the beans. And that’s what we’re about. …”

Intelligentsia spent time with the Sally Loo’s staff, teaching them how to correctly pull their new espresso beans and about the science behind an optimal pour over.

“The biggest difference between what we were doing and what we are doing now is our pour over,” Jen said.

What is this pour over? Instead of brewing a large amount of coffee through a filter and having it sit in a hotpot for 45 minutes or so before it lands in your mug, pour over is a brew-by-the-cup method. The grounds are meticulously measured and placed in a filter-lined ceramic cone. The barista pours a thin slow stream of water over them, and the coffee drips directly into your cup.

Seasonal single-origin beans are usually used because that’s one of the only ways to truly appreciate such high quality coffee.

Jen explained what makes these beans so special: “Versus having a bean sit green for months and months and roasting it over the course of the year, Intelligentsia works seasonally with their farmers.”

Now Sally Loo’s not only brings the community wholesome and seasonal food, but also seasonal and fairly sourced coffees.

“And that’s our heart—I want to be absolutely proud and excited about everything that we put out, and Intelligentsia just lines right up with that,” Brandon said.

Go sip some liquid black candy at Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café at 1804 Osos St. in San Luis Obispo, and see what everyone is talking about.

Fast fact

The Southbay Seniors will host their Annual Garage Sale Fundraiser. Proceeds go toward the group’s weekly food giveaway and the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter. A garage and bake sale will be held Aug. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. and on Aug. 6 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1440 Los Osos Valley Road.

Intern Lauren Cook compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your nonprofit and business news to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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