Maturing Houston’s Coffee Scene

There is a really good article in the New York Times on-line edition that discusses the growth of New York’s coffee scene. It has gone from a few “hard core coffee shops, the ones that felt like underground clubs” to, in the past year, one coffee shop opening almost every three days. The article goes on to say that the scene is not only expanding but it is maturing as well. More New Yorkers know about and are looking for good coffee: e.g. freshly roasted, single origin, and individually crafted drinks. Could this ever happen in Houston? Yes it will, and I can not wait to see it! Continue reading

Best Iced Coffee In Houston?

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Spring-time weather has arrived in Houston! Well, at least for a couple of days anyway and that means it’s time to start thinking about how to cool off during the coming summer. For coffee drinkers that means switching to a cold version of our favorite hot drink. I’ve been trying quite a few lately around town, and found a wide variety of tastes. Some are punch-you-in-the-face bold while others are like a cool towel carefully draped on your face after a close shave. The difference in taste depends, of course, on the beans used but also is affected by the brewing method. I think that the best version I have tasted so far is the Japanese iced pour-over. Continue reading

Coffee Evangelist

994026_10151892321449036_983359957_nEnthusiast, lover, junkie….call me what you will but please do not call me a coffee snob. When I hear that phrase I always cringe as if someone had run their fingernails down a chalk board. The stereotype of a stuck up, too good for anything that hasn’t been pooped out of a civet just doesn’t apply to me or many other coffee lovers. I do love coffee, passionately. I do drink special (not Folgers or McDonalds) coffee from places lots of people have never heard of. I do eagerly talk about my love for coffee to others and encourage them to try it as well. So, if you want to compare me to someone then make it the cosplayers who spend hours making costumes, or the Trekkors who learn how to speak a language from a fictional universe. The extent of my passion is no different from theirs. Continue reading

Paper Co. Coffee

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Coffee shops have long been favorite meeting places for everyone from revolutionaries,  and politicians, to friends and family. In recent years, with the addition of free wi-fi, coffee shops have become a place to be secluded with your device. Paper Co. Coffee is  one shop that is trying to change that by encouraging their customers to share their stories. “Everybody has a story. We want everybody to hang out and talk and share their story about their lives,” Dave Foong Paper Co.’s coffee shop manager tells me. After sitting down with Dave and their coffee supplier Josely, head roaster for Mueva Coffee, I discovered that there are indeed many stories to tell here. Continue reading

PBS News Hour – Houston Coffee

PBS NewsHour recently broadcasted this piece about Houston importing more beans than any other location outside of New York and what that means for local coffee roasters and boutiques.  It’s a great little piece that just touches the tip of the ice berg of what’s going on in Houston.

 

Fort Bend Coffee Roasters

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Sometimes you discover new things without even looking for them and that is exactly how I came across Fort Bend Coffee Roasters. A chance stop by the Farmer’s Market at Imperial in Stafford lead me to a pour-over station and bags of freshly roasted coffee. The man crafting each cup of coffee for his customers as well as the head roaster is Bryan Hibbard. Though he and his wife recently had a new baby, Bryan was able to escape for bit to sit down with me over a cup of coffee to chat about his coffee beans.  Continue reading

“Hipsters Love Coffee”

Comedy sketch group Nacho Punch has produced a video poking fun at “Hipsters” and their stereotypical complicated coffee order. It’s definitely hilarious, and it isn’t far from the truth of what people outside of the coffee world think about coffee house patrons. Everyone that knows me have similar things to say about my “frou frou” coffee drinking habits but with me and many others the stereotypical is far from being true.

My love for coffee isn’t based on the milk based espresso drinks but actual “black” single-origin coffees. I enjoy the unique tastes that the different coffee regions and farms produce. It’s not snobbery but discovery that best describes my coffee habits. And yes I would buy a coffee if I thought it would help people less fortunate than me, and that’s exactly what I hope happens with each cup I buy. I believe that by drinking coffee that come from micro-lots and small farms I do help the farmers and communities that are supported by them. It doesn’t have to be a particular brand that will supply water for each pound but each farm we support that helps.

There is absolutely have no problem with the cartoons and videos that poke fun at the coffee world. I laugh just as much as everyone else does at them because I worked at Starbucks for a short time and have seen my fair share of over the top requests. I just hope that people realize that there are a lot of us “hipsters” or “snobs” who are really just people who have passion for what we love and the people that produce it.

Entre Montañas – A conversation with a Guatemalan coffee farmer

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Just south-east of Guatemala City in the rich volcanic soil of the Fraijanes Plateau coffee region of Guatemala you will find Finca Las Victorias. It is a shade grown coffee farm that has been passed down generation to generation by Carlos Letona’s family for more than 130 years.  “We have been producing coffee as it has been a long time family business since former Guatemalan President Justo Rufino Barrios in the late 1800′s,” he tells me. Barrios had taken steps to make coffee production Guatemala’s key to survival. He distributed a million seedlings to farmers and by 1880 coffee made up 90% of it’s exports. Las Victorias was born and operated unofficially for about 70 years until Carlos’ grandfather legalized the business and began exporting his crops to Belgium until the time of his death in 2001. For a time the farm remained out of operation until 2011 when Carlos (who attended school in Houston and who’s mom works as a teacher in Alief) inherited it and began undertaking the task of getting it up and running again.  Continue reading

A bit more to it than that…

“You know what I like about coffee…it’s simple, you roast it, you grind it, you make it, done.” I think this statement is a pretty good summation of how most people view where their coffee comes from. For some it might even be more simpler than that: you pull up to a window and someone hands you a cup of coffee in exchange for a couple of bucks. Who cares where it comes from.

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Mercantile Montrose

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I stopped by the Mercantile’s new Montrose location this morning while they are having their soft opening this week and sampled a shot of their Espresso.  It was well prepared by David and accompanied by a nice chat about what the new location will have that the Rice Village location doesn’t (parking and indoor seating.) The shot I had was from Houston’s Amaya Roasting Company but they plan on having beans available from other National roasters as well like Portland’s Stumptown and Chicago’s Intelligentsia. Mercantile Montrose is located at 3321 Stanford, just off of Montrose Dr. The place looks great and I’m looking forward to their grand opening!

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