Coffee & Nature

21 Jan


  • Got a free morning? Grab a cup of coffee and hit the trail
  • Three independent coffee shops brew up the best
  • Put that caffeine to use and enjoy what Morro Bay has to offer

After talking with the people behind some of Morro Bay’s favorite coffee spots, I paired their brews with great local hikes and adventures.

Top Dog owner Patrick Bietz with happy customers Brianne Lundgren and Chelsea Westerdale.

Top Dog Coffee Bar

I sat down with coffee bar owner Patrick Bietz to talk about Top Dog’s quality beans and complimentary food.

Q: What makes Top Dog the best spot for coffee in Morro Bay?

A: I think one of the things is that we are really unique in the fact that I am a micro roaster, so I roast our own product for this shop. We don’t rely on getting any of our product from some wholesale roaster who doesn’t understand the needs of the customer base here. I roast everything for us, every other night. Because we roast our own coffee, it’s so fresh that you literally can’t get it any fresher than here. I literally roast it and bring it in the next day. And so, if you’re buying from a wholesaler, you don’t know how long that coffee’s been sitting around. This stuff is 12 to 24 hours old. You just can’t get that anywhere else.

“Just this shop probably goes through a ton or better than a ton of green beans in a month. We really go through coffee here.”

Q: Tell us about where you get your beans and what goes into making your coffee.

A: The beans are imported from all over the world, and I have an importer up in the bay area. They bring in the coffee from every imaginable place, and then I order it from them. Then it comes down on a semi. There are semis that pull through my ranch–I have a ranch out in Santa Margarita where I do all my roasting–and they drop coffee off a big palette at a time. And I roast it depending on what the needs of the shop are.

Q: How did Top Dog get started?

A: A friend of mine said “Hey, there’s a business that’s for sale in Morro Bay.” Once I bought it, I realized that for it to be everything I wanted it to be, I had to become a coffee roaster. I just really wanted a place where there was really great food and really great coffee.

Q: What’s your best seller beside coffee?

A: We get sold out every day out of all of our pastries. Then we make a soup or a stew, and get completely sold out of that. We go through, oh I bet 15 dozen bagels a week. Our kitchen gets hit really hard. Our paninis–we make all of our own pesto. Our stuff is just really stupid good, and our prices are just really reasonable. Because we shop where you do, you’re getting really great stuff.

Visit Top Dog at 857 Main Street, Morro Bay, or call (805)772-9225.

Montana de Oro State Park

One of California’s most treasured parks, Montana de Oro has everything from shady Eucalyptus groves to secluded beaches. Take a walk along the bluffs or bring some bagels from Top Dog and watch the waves at Spooner’s Cove. The more adventurous can make the 1,347-foot climb to Valencia Peak, or the more mundane trek to Oats Peak. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views.

Morro Bay Coffee Co. owners Annie, Rodney and Samuel Clapp

Morro Bay Coffee Co.

Located front and center on Morro Bay Boulevard, Morro Bay Coffee Co. is an excellent early-morning stop. I spoke with owner Annie Clapp.

Q: What makes Morro Bay Coffee Co. the best spot for coffee in Morro Bay?

A: We’re fair trade organic; that makes a big difference for people that are concerned about the well-being of others.

Q: Tell us about where you get your beans and what goes into making your coffee.

A: We don’t roast our beans here; we get them from Central Peak Roasters and then we also get them from Joebella. Central Peak is in San Luis Obispo and Joebella is in Templeton, and they’re experts at what they do. We get [the beans] fresh twice a week and then we grind them here, and we make sure that our ingredients are fresh. We have milk come in daily, and then just have the best ingredients we can find.

Q: How did Morro Bay Coffee Co. get started?

A: We purchased this company in June, and that’s how we got started.

Q: What’s your best seller beside coffee?

A: The pastries.

Stop by 948 Morro Bay Boulevard, Morro Bay, or call (805)772-8880.

Elfin Forest

Technically located in Los Osos, the Elfin Forest is a short drive out of town but well worth it. A 90-acre reserve with boarded pathways, the forest is a user-friendly place to get in touch with nature. Meander through native scrub plants and take in the scents and scenes of this unique part of the bay. The coolest part, however, is the forest of pygmy oaks, which are exactly what they sound like – live oaks stunted by the harsh coastal environment. The forest also has excellent views of the bay’s estuary, and, of course, the rock.

The Rock Espresso Bar

The Rock Espresso Bar

This quaint coffee shop is in full view of the rock and bay, and many customers enjoy sitting out front and watching waves crash over the breakwater on particularly rowdy days. Barista Kelly Nelson talked to me about the bar.

Q: What makes The Rock the best spot for coffee in Morro Bay?

A: Everyone here has their own unique style of making coffee, and usually we get the same customers because everyone loves that way of making it. When it comes down to the actual coffee, all coffee shops basically go through the same process of making the coffee, but it’s choosing the right grind and heat and water. It’s the way you brew it and grind it that makes it good.

Q: Tell us about where you get your beans and what goes into making your coffee.

A: Our beans are from Cambria Roasting Company.

Q: How did The Rock get started?

A: I know it’s been here for 19 years. It’s really old; it’s the oldest coffee shop in Morro Bay. The owners now have only owned it for a year and a half, and they’re the third owners I believe. It’s been here for a long time, and little has been changed.

Q: What’s your best seller beside coffee?

A: Probably the muffin tops. Everyone always obsesses over the muffin tops.

Check in at 275 Morro Bay Boulevard, Morro Bay, or call (805)772-3411.

Morro Bay State Park

Now that you have a hot cup of coffee in hand, go see the real rock at Morro Bay State Park. For the less adventurous, there’s a Museum of Natural History and an 18-hole public golf course, as well as a marina. Those who venture further into the park will come across acres of saltwater marsh land, where binoculars should be required equipment even for those not dazzled by the bay’s array of birds.


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