Last month, Close to Home barista Margaret Heidal serves Gay Williams. Photo by Ed Johnson, KP News

In 1989, fed up with the city life of Seattle, Laura McClintock moved to Key Peninsula.

She hated jobs that required a commute, so she worked the fishing seasons in Alaska on a factory fishing troller as a cook. The job paid well, but the work schedule was long and arduous.

Eventually, McClintock got a job as a barista in Gig Harbor where she learned the tricks of the trade.

In 1993 she made a deal with Walt Schmidt, former owner of the Key Center Food Market to rent a space under the eaves of the roof near the entrance. She purchased an espresso push cart and Close to Home Espresso was born. Since then, she’s been brewing coffee that keeps her customers coming back for more.

When the new food center was built last year, she spoke with its new owner, Dan Stoltz, who happily agreed to honor her lease and a new store was built where the her store stands today.

This is not a drive though; however, her customers eagerly stand in line for their beverages, and have ample time to visit.

Outside seating is available as well. Over the years, Laura has developed a following of regulars. Some have been with her since the beginning.

One such patron is Earl Christine, who on a fine day last month ordered a white chocolate frappe. “It’s too hot for espresso …Gotta have something cool,” he said.

McClintock has watched a generation of Key Peninsula children grow to adulthood, and thinks KP folks are special.

Her coffee is also special. She gets it from a secret local coffee roaster in Olympia who only uses the finest ingredients. She also credits her seven part-time baristas for her success.

“They’re trained to make espresso the same way each time ––perfect,” she said.

McClintock plans to celebrate her 20 years of business this June. She is planning a vintage photo montage of the customers from the past, and will be having an animal photo contest.

“Bring in a shot of your pet for display and maybe win a prize,” she said with a grin.

There’s more to her life than just coffee beans. She is a caregiver to her 92-year-old mother and she likes to paint abstracts, which are for sale at her store.

McClintock said she’s looking forward to retirement someday.

“Life’s too short. I want more time for my painting and riding in my Beemer.”