Kaffee Meister brews good mix of coffee and company

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For the past year, community members have patiently waited for the next tenant of the large space formerly the home of Friendly Grounds. Located in Carlton Oaks Plaza with the Santee Library and several small businesses, Kaffee Meister is the long-anticipated new gathering place.

In just its second week of being open at the new location, Kaffee Meister has had a steady draw of people in search of a specially brewed cup of java.

For the past year, community members have patiently waited for the next tenant of the large space formerly the home of Friendly Grounds. Located in Carlton Oaks Plaza with the Santee Library and several small businesses, Kaffee Meister is the long-anticipated new gathering place.

In just its second week of being open at the new location, Kaffee Meister has had a steady draw of people in search of a specially brewed cup of java.

“They’ve been mostly new customers,” said Elisa McLaughlin, the manager of the coffee house. “It never ceases to amaze me how the community has responded so positively to our coming here.”

No stranger to the coffee connoisseurs in East County, Kaffee Meister has had a small presence in the Local Mercantile in East County for the last two years. The coffee house had its beginnings as an authentic kaffee klatch in the kitchen of owners Mike and Leslie Emmons.

Their circle of friends continually expanded through the weekly coffee hour for friends and acquaintances.
“We had people come in from all walks of life,” said Mike Emmons, who had never tasted coffee until he turned 50.

What started out as a pleasant pastime with his wife turned into a full-time pursuit for both of them when they opened the Kaffee Meister in Local Mercantile. They quickly outgrew their modest Expobar Brewtus espresso machine. Encouraged by their friends and coffee-mates, the Emmons’ family business has flourished in that first location for just over two years.

The first year was tough for the new business, but they held steady through a constant stream of customers. Their days were long, their lives full, said Emmons.

The Emmons had not been eagerly searching for a second location. But one of their customers had told them about the location in Santee.
“We had been planning to move down there anyway,” said McLaughlin, who is married with three children. “So my parents said ‘How about helping us open a second shop?’”

Not only does McLaughlin steam the espresso, blend fruit for a smoothie, and keep the place tidy, she was the major designer for the shop’s interior.

“I picked the colors, the furniture, and the lighting,” she said, pointing up to one of the overhead lamps befitted with old-fashioned Edison-style bulbs.

McLaughlin also wrote out the hand-lettered menu and spruced up a record player that sits on its own stand. “It’s amazing how many people love to sit in that corner and choose a record to play,” she said.

The Emmons and McLaughlins work side by side in both locations, exchanging shifts and tasks each day.
“We’re tired, but very happy,” she said.

Her husband summed it up. “We’re more than just a ‘H 

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