Close-knit and delightfully outgoing, the Saarloos family arrived in the Valley in 1997 intending to build a country life among new friends. Linda and Larry Saarloos promptly put down deep roots in the community by buying the Roasted Bean, a popular coffee shop-cum-art gallery located in Santa Ynez.
“The Roasted Bean has always been a wonderful place,” declares the couple’s older son, Keith, 32, who took over the shop in 2004. “It’s the living room of the Valley.
“It doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to the Valley.”
Born and raised in Southern California, Keith Saarloos immediately felt at home here, and after four years, cites a “pine box” as his only mode of departure.
“We live in a valley where people want to love you,” he says, “and I’ve got friends for a lifetime here. We’ve made so many friends through the shop, when they said we needed one in Buellton, we opened one.”
Established in 2006, the Buellton Roasted Bean features a faux tin shack décor, with corrugated metal on the walls, a wide wooden counter, and a water dish thoughtfully placed outside for thirsty pooches.
Known for its aromatic coffees, specialty drinks, fruit smoothies and locally baked pastries, both Roasted Beans reign as gathering places and clearing houses for everything from expert advice to equipment loans.
“In Santa Ynez, we have a place our friends come to every morning and fix the world’s problems before eight o’clock,” Saarloos laughs.
“We have a cup of coffee, enjoy the morning, set up contacts. Say you need a tractor or want to know how to do something, and someone will say, ‘I did that two years ago, I’ll come show you how.’”
Saarloos family holds a diverse business portfolio that includes a cattle operation, as well as 30 acres of wine grapes, and they appreciate the hard work that goes into all the products they sell.
“Since we are farmers and grape producers, we only use fair trade coffee,” Saarloos explains. “All our coffees are organic, pesticide-free, shade grown, and bird friendly none of the farms use nets.
“We buy from local bakers,” he continues, “and anyone who sells us anything has to live in the Valley. Our roaster is in Goleta, but the owner lives here. We support people who support us.”
Besides excellent java and freshly baked goods, Roasted Bean customers enjoy revolving exhibitions by area artists who hang their work on the rustic walls. “We have a new artist every month, at both places,” Saarloos says. “Everybody’s welcome; we take from Picasso to first graders, and we don’t charge. We put a price on ’em and we’ll sell ’em, for $5 or $50,000.
“It’s like having 12 seasons a year,” he smiles. “Most people only get four, but we get a new season every month.”
The two shops also offer local, efficient job training for much of the area’s youth. “It’s like a coming-of-age thing to work there,” Saarloos admits.“If we had a reunion of former workers, half the town would turn out.
“It all comes back to community,” he adds, “when a little rinky-dink coffee shop can make a difference. Isn’t it neat?” Saarloos learned a lot from his dad, who left the big city of Long Beach in search of “a real community.”
“He found it here,” Keith Saarloos declares, “and with the Roasted Bean, it’s neat to build something as a family and then stand back.
“We try to keep our prices low,” he adds, “because we want to take care of our friends, keep our doors open, keep people happy.
Come on in! I know we make the best coffee in the Valley.”