We are a Naples style espresso bar. What does this mean? It means we use a spring lever machine for espresso extraction, giving the barista full control over the process and creating a more nuanced drink. Yes, it does take a few seconds more but we think the drink will be worth the wait.
All our coffees are roasted locally by Victoria Coffee Roasters, our parent company. John Valdivia has been roasting coffee in Victoria, Texas since 2007. In addition to our unique house espresso blend, we carry a variety of freshly roasted specialty coffees from Victoria Coffee Roasters.
Not interested in coffee, that’s ok as we have one of the largest selection of gourmet teas available in the area. Each is available hot or iced and is brewed to order.
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The Kids Made Me Do It.
It’s the third day, Wednesday morning to be exact, and I’m up early preparing my first cup of coffee before the kids awake. Until last Friday, my routine was to grab a coffee from my favorite coffee shop, and enjoy it during my 30 minute commute from Ft. Worth to Arlington. But with the birth of our 3rd daughter a few months ago, I have had to make some changes. Too often I have had to leave work early to pick up the kids from daycare, then try to work from home. It has not been easy. My wife, Veronica, is in her final year of residency and she’s rarely home more than a 2 days. After discussing several options, my wife and I agreed I would resign and become a stay-at-home Dad.
Over the weekend, in preparation for my new adventure, I purchased a “fresh” pound of whole bean coffee, hoping it would replace the daily brew I once took for granted. The gurgling coffee pot signals it is just about done. I grab a cup, fill it, and raise it for that first sip. Blah! For the third morning, I suffer through another disappointing cup. Packing up a 3 year old, 1 year old, and 3 month old for a run to the coffee shop is not an experience I wish to relive. The first time it took me 30 minutes to load and unload. Then just after getting my coffee, my youngest required a diaper change. Three kids in a small coffee shop bathroom with no changing table was a logistical nightmare, as you might imagine. That’s when I decided to take coffee matters into my own hands.
My first home roaster was a spin-off of a hot air popcorn popper. With it I could roast 4oz of green beans in about 8 minutes, enough for 8 cups. A few months later I ordered a half-pound, drum model. Between bottles, diapers, and naptime sessions I roasted, learning the sounds, smells, and physical changes that happens during a roast. Most of the time the results were ok. Then every so often, amazing! I was hooked.
Veronica finished residency and we moved to Victoria in 2003. In 2007 my youngest entered kindergarten. In October of that year we purchased a 5 kilo commercial coffee roaster and Victoria Coffee Roasters was launched, without a single customer or marketing plan. But within a few weeks, word spread about “the coffee man”. Our very first retail and wholesale customers Scott and Wendy, are still with us to this day. Our first local coffee shop to use our coffees, The Java Bean, is still our customer. Within six months we upgraded to a 15 kilo roaster, which increased or capacity from 7lbs to 27lbs per batch. Then 2008 came.
It was the perfect coffee storm. The combination of a declining economy coupled with declining coffee harvests in Brazil and Columbia pushed coffee prices to record highs. Overnight coffee prices increased 200%, then 300%. Coffee shop margins declined, forcing them to raise prices. Customer’s disposable income declined, forcing them to cut back on spending. From 2008 to 2010, we lost 25% of our commercial customers as they were forced to close their doors. The coffee market has not been the same since as coffee prices on the open market are still much higher than when we first opened. But those that made it through have adapted and we are still here, and growing.
Fast forward to 2014. My wife and I are driving, as we often do on the weekends, downtown on Main Street, headed to Rosita’s Bakery for some delicious sweet bread. We catch the light on Main and Santa Rosa. For some odd reason, the old ATM building catches my eye. Thinking out loud, I say “That could make a cool espresso bar.” She looks at me somewhat confused, “Where?” “Right there” I say pointing. She humors me as I explaine my vision as rapidly as it was forms. I see a “walk-thru” coffee bar. Customers come in, order, and walk out with their favorite drink. It was exciting. Needless to say she did not see what I saw but was supportive enough to take down the phone number stamped above the building. I called the number as we pulled away, afraid some passerby had read the excitement on my face and would have rented the building before I finished dialing.
A voice answered.
“Hello, I’m calling about the ATM building. Is it for rent?”
“The ATM building.”
“Uh, I don’t know. Why would you rent that?”
"For a coffee shop."