While Texas may not be famous for supporting small businesses—the craft breweries and chocolatiers and micro-sized coffee roasters that thrive in cities like Portland, Oregon—there are certainly exceptions. Many parts of Texas have their own movements of young upstarts, and independent micro-roasters are a prime example. We have come across a few special individuals doing mighty big things across Texas, whose impact may soon spread beyond the Lone Star State.
Fusion Beans: Webster, Texas
A barista since he was able to hold a job, young Sean Marshall of Fusion Beans has committed himself to improving the lives of coffee growers in any way he can. Sean has been wholesaling his coffee beans for just under a year but has already made trips to Africa and Costa Rica, visiting coffee farms and processing facilities each time. Even with his roasting business in its infancy, Sean has promised to learn more about how he can help developing farmers make a name for themselves and grow together with Fusion Beans. Sean operates his business from Webster, a coastal town nearby the Gulf of Mexico, the island of Galveston, and the Port of Houston. Sean's list is diverse, but we suggest his take on Ethiopia Sidama Amaro Gayo, a natural processed coffee with a fruit forward aroma and pleasant mouthfeel.
Brown Coffee Co.: San Antonio,Texas
Aaron Blanco, a former employee of that really large coffee company, committed himself to learning more about the growing procedures and logistics behind the scenes—and has taken off since. Shooting around the country from southern states to the northern coast, Aaron made his way to San Antonio to be closer to family when it dawned on him that he wanted to commit to roasting coffee full-time, with Brown Coffee Co.
Aaron eagerly wrote up a business plan and started shopping for commercial roasting equipment before he reazlied that the big coffee roasters may be out of his price range. Not one to lay his cards down, Aaron and his aerospace engineering father-in-law began drawing up specifications for a modular roaster and within 18 months they had created a roastery with their bare hands.
Aaron focuses on the highest elevation coffees he can come by and has created a lifelong friendship and business relationship with the globally renown Finca Vista Hermosa family in Guatemala. He was inspired to participate in the Specialty Coffee Association of America's Barista Competition, and came in second place in his region. Not bad for a micro-roaster, I'd say! For all you New Yorkers, you can grab a bag of Brown coffee over at RBC NYC. Try his Guatemala Finca Vista Hermosa, he gets the same lot from this family each year, and it only gets better. Malty, lemon zest sweet, and cocoa are prevalent in this "Brown" bag.
Amaya Roasting Company: Houston, Texas
Naming his espresso bar after his mother and his roastery after his family surname, Max Gonzalez has dedicated himself to making sure he doesn't let the family down. What started out as a small espresso bar has quickly turned into one of Houston's most popular coffee destinations, and Max began roasting his own coffee beans in 2008. Focusing on small, farm focused lots, Max offers his wares through Catalina Coffee and frequently exchanges espresso blends throughout any given week. With transparency as a driving force in educating his clientele, Amaya Roasting Company lists as much information as possible on each and every bag of beans, from the smallest consumer to the largest wholesale account.
His roastery began when Max decided he needed as much a voice in his coffee selections as he had with his preparation for each given bag of beans. Committed to staying local and supporting local, it may be a challenge to procure his coffee outside of the state of Texas for another month or two, but CatalinaCoffeeshop.com is getting a facelift for the fall, and Max has promised to set up an online webshop for ordering his various espresso blends and boutique farmlots.
Cuvee Coffee: Spicewood, Texas
With over 12 years of roasting experience, Cuvee Coffee is the oldest and largest of our upstart coffee roasters, but certainly worth noting. Head roaster Mike McKim has travelled far and wide to procure his distinguished variety of coffee from South and Central America. He has been encouraging farmers in Guatemala and El Salvador to increase quality and has made it known that a higher price paid to the farmer is proven to show stellar results.
Cuvee has also been the strongest supporter of the Specialty Coffee Association of America in the Texas region and with the large coffee conference coming to Texas in 2011, they have dedicated their time and energy into making sure the coffee world knows Texans are serious about their cup. Everyhting on their list is remarkable, but Cuvee's commitments in El Salvador and Guatemala have provided some amazing coffees and are worth every bit in procuring a bag or two from the CuveeCoffee.com webshop. The Guatemala San José Ocaña is a personal favorite and not to be missed.