Getting word of a new espresso-based retailer can be quite exciting for the native coffee nerd. Anytime an opportunity comes across to hang onto my hat and hop on the road for a coffee trip, I jump.
This journey led me to Austin, Texas (a mere three hour thoroughfare), where the boutique coffee appreciation level has been growing exponentially. Maybe it's the giant University of Texas campus; maybe it's all the music junkies who graze in the capital; heck, maybe it's Uchi. Whichever way, people here have caught on and accept what all the other "cool" cities are doing with their fancy pour over bars and attention to detail. We traveled light, and got right to where we belonged: Houndstooth Coffee.
Houndstooth Coffee has taken a different approach that is a breath of fresh air for the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) South Central Region. Instead of sticking to one roasting company they decided that they wanted the citizens of Austin to experience coffee as it is across the country. Gathering accounts with Intelligentsia (IL), Counter Culture (NC), and keeping a local favorite, Cuvee Coffee (TX), Houndstooth has successfully introduced a dynamic option in espresso to the city.
We had one of each and the differences were intriguing next to each other.
Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso we had was sweet and syrupy, with a nutty aroma. In contrast we found a much heavier body and a smoky shot with deeper dark chocolate flavors in Counter Culture's Espresso Toscano. Furthering along to Cuvee Coffee's Meritage Espresso, we found notes of clove and spice with a delicate body and a red fruit acidity. These espressos all sang in their own ways and experiencing them next to each other was an opportunity that should not be missed. What first seemed like a logistical nightmare (three wholesalers for espresso—goodness!) turned out to be just what the doctor ordered to open people's eyes about subtle differences in coffee beans from around the world.
Houndstooth Coffee has some growing pains to deal with—beer and wine sales haven't picked up yet, and the location is bare but designed to grown in over time. Despite the odds, they have what it takes to become a major player in Austin's coffee culture. With all sorts of music festivals and free thought, Houndstooth Coffee has found a welcome home in the South Central Region.
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