- How I Found It
- Cafe Background
- Some of the Bello Mundo Team
Blink and You’ll Miss It
I have passed by this cafe on more than one occasion, and for some reason I have never stopped in until today. And boy have I been missing out. Sally Loo’s owner, Jen Manuele, actually recommended Bello Mundo to me in my interview with her for my most recent blog post. After having noticed the cafe before and thinking about the potential it could have for a blog post, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Jen’s recommendation sealed the deal for me.
Bello Mundo is conveniently located in a cozy hole in the wall between Boo Boo Records and Phoenix Books in downtown SLO
“If I’m not at Sally Loo’s, I’m over at Bello Mundo Cafe.”-Jen Manuele, owner of Sally Loo’s Wholesome Cafe
It may be small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character, atmosphere, and good coffee. I think part of the reason that I had never visited Bello Mundo until today is because, even though it sounds silly, I think I was slightly intimidated by it. It wasn’t the size by any means (it’s probably smaller than the average living room), but more the fact that I didn’t know anything about it, and I didn’t know if it was somewhere that I could “fit in” (like I’ve mentioned before, I’m probably the furthest thing from being a “hipster,” and for some reason I thought the cafe had that vibe). I couldn’t have been any further off-base.
There were probably three people inside when I walked into Bello Mundo earlier on this rainy day in San Luis Obispo. It was the perfect escape from the rain and the cozy atmosphere made me want to hang out for the rest of the afternoon.
How It Started
Bello Mundo started in SLO in August of 2011, but the idea behind it started long before then in a slightly different form. The owner, Jennifer Martinez, used to live in Boston and worked with teenage boys in a correctional facility. They told her that to help them out, instead of teaching them, she should be helping them get jobs. Martinez realized they were right, and she set out to open a cupcake bakery. You can read more about those plans here. Ultimately, plans changed and Jennifer ended up moving from the East Coast to SLO with her husband, and they somewhat unexpectedly opened up Bello Mundo.
The small size and warm lighting makes for a cozy atmosphere in this little cafe.
The cafe is small, and Jennifer likes it that way. The goal is to make it a comfortable place to come and interact with friendly people and enjoy some exceptional coffee at the same time. Bello Mundo has been going strong since its opening, and the community that has grown from the business has exceeded Jennifer’s expectations. Since the cafe is small, the team that runs it is also small, and as a result they are very close. They try to make as many decisions as a team as possible.
Part of the Team
When I walked into Bello Mundo I was lucky enough to find not only an awesome barista, Jeremy, working, but Jennifer (the owner) there too. Both were incredibly friendly and attentive the entire time I was there, and they were more than happy to answer any questions I had. Jeremy Fama came from the East Coast, just like his boss, and used to work in a restaurant before he ended up in a coffee shop-a job that he loves. “I’ve waited tables making a ton of money for a boss that didn’t care about me.” Jeremy and an off-duty barista named Amy both agreed that they had lucked out big time to find jobs like the ones they have at Bello Mundo. Jennifer seemed to feel the same way about them. “I’m really lucky that I get to come and work with people I actually want to hang out with,” Martinez said.
Good conversation is pretty much a guarantee any time you come into Bello Mundo, which Jeremy is demonstrating perfectly.
It was clear that the warm and cozy atmosphere of the coffee shop didn’t stop there; the team that work there have a tight-knit relationship too and genuinely enjoy each other’s company (and the company of their customers).
The team at Bello Mundo strive to produce the best espresso drink you can get whenever you visit their cafe, but the goodness doesn’t stop there. Jennifer’s love of cupcakes and other tasty treats didn’t get left behind in Boston and she would definitely recommend their cupcakes to anyone that comes in. On top of that, her favorite drinks are the ones with chocolate. “I’m a big fan of our chocolate drinks, we do real shaved chocolate.” She recommends either a hot chocolate or one of their mochas.
I happened to stick with my trusty go-to vanilla latte, but I’ll definitely have to check out something with chocolate on my next visit.
While serving exceptional coffee is one of their main goals, their ultimate goal is to just try and do good work. Clearly it’s working for them.
“We’re more interested in being nice than being cool.”-Jennifer Martinez, owner of Bello Mundo
It may be small, but there’s still plenty of space to sit down and enjoy a warm drink
If you’re ever on Monterey Street in downtown SLO, be sure to check out this gem of an espresso shop. I know I’ll be back.