Reviews of coffee shops and roasters in Texas.

The El Paso Coffee Box Grand Opening

IMG_4510El Paso, Texas is at a tipping point. I’ve only been living here for about six months, but locals clued me into this fact within my first few weeks of being in town. In the last decade El Paso has joined the likes of Phoenix and Albuquerque as oases of culture and forward thinking in terms of art, music, and business in the southwest. While El Paso hasn’t reached the heights of hipsterness that you’ll find in Seattle or Portland, it has several hangout spots and restaurants where wearing tight jeans, carrying the latest technology, and listening to music you’ve probably never heard of feels very familiar.

While El Paso’s west side is largely considered the most trendy part of town, downtown has increasingly become an area of focus. The historic San Jacinto Plaza has been under renovations since July 2014 – a fact not lost on Miguel Veloz or Abel Baca, co-owners of the new El Paso Coffee Box.


The Coffee Box is right across the street from the mass of construction that will someday become the new-and-improved San Jacinto Plaza, on the corner of Mesa and Main st. I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening ceremony on April 29th, and Abel granted me a brief interview about why he believes The Coffee Box is important for El Paso.

The Coffee Box received a warm welcome from locals and media alike; I counted at least five separate video cameras from various news stations. After a brief speech, the masterminds behind El Paso’s newest coffee shop popped open champaign bottles  and a DJ began spinning records in the background. It was following all of this fanfare that I was able to speak to Mr. Baca and ask him a few questions about The Coffee Box. Check out the short video below, then follow my interview with Abel below.

The press looks on while baristas are hard at work


A very exciting day for @elpasocoffeebox as they uncork the champaign and celebrate their grand opening! #ElPaso

A video posted by The Coffee guy (@boisecoffee) on

Abel: Yes, this is my first business.

Did you start this business because you wanted to add something to El Paso, because you have a passion for coffee, or for some other reason?

I started this business because I realized that downtown is growing and developing. I know that once the plaza opens and gets built that it’s a perfect location for something like this – that’s why this specific area attracted me.

Okay, so why coffee?

Why coffee? I know that most everybody young and old love coffee. It’s basically the most consumed drug.

That’s a good point! I can’t argue with that.
So as far as the design of your coffee shop – I’m curious because it looks a lot like TI:ME, the center on the west side. Was it inspired at all by that?

Our main focus was using recycled materials, and the design developed from that starting point.

As a coffee consumer, I’m a little partial to pour-over coffee. Have you guys considered doing that, or are you going to stick with the espresso for now?

Yes, we are considering it and will probably switch to that method of brewing in the future.


If you’re interested in finding out more about The Coffee Box, you can visit their website, like their Facebook, or follow them on Instagram. They use locally roasted coffee from BLDG 6 coffee roasters, and I can personally say that it’s great stuff. Stay tuned for a full review down the line.

The Coffee Guy

Slowing things down: Kohana Coffee

Right now, if I wanted, I could watch a movie on my phone. If I wanted to own the new Coldplay CD, I could in a matter of minutes. If I wanted to see my dad, he’s only one Skype call away. The truth is, most everything is instant these days – or darn near. But is that necessarily the best way to go about everything? Are there benefits to slowing down? Kohana Coffee out of Austin, TX seems to think so.

When it comes to roasting, the majority of the world’s coffee is roasted at a high temperature for just a few minutes. The problem is, one roast does not fit all beans.

At Kohana, we recognize, even revere, the fact that each type of bean has its own flavor characteristics. Using a technique developed in Hawaii, each Kohana bean is slow roasted based on these characteristics.

That’s great, but does Kohana’s tendency to “go against the grind” of coffee society pay off? (See what I did there…?)

I first got in contact with the folks from Kohana on Twitter. We’d talk from time to time, tossing back and forth quips and coffee lingo. As time went on and I began doing more reviews for coffee shops outside of Boise, Kohana Coffee would often cross my mind as a brand that I would love to review. For some reason I never got around to it – until a few weeks ago.

The folks from Kohana Coffee were more than friendly, sending me a bag of their Antigua Belle Carmona – a medium roast. Here’s the description of the coffee I received, from Kohana’s website:

One of Guatemala’s premium Antiguan coffees from Hacienda Carmona, a small estate located between the Agua and Acatenango volcanoes. With a rich full body and bright medium acidity, it is mildly sweet with flavors of caramel and cacao. Nicely aromatic fruit fragrance and a clean finish make this a special coffee you will enjoy….

One difficult aspect to reviewing coffee  is that there is not any objective way to tell someone what coffee is good and what coffee is bad. Often, I’ve found that certain coffees taste great in a mocha, while others are best when consumed as straight espresso. When I’m trying new coffee I like to put it into as many different types of drinks as I can. Not only does this give me an overall sense of the diversity of the coffee, but it allows me to find the way to enjoy that specific coffee the best.

After putting Kohana Coffee’s Antigua Bella Carmona through my “varied drink” test, I found that there was one cup that I simply couldn’t get enough of. Creating an Americano out of the Antigua and enjoying it with a little cream, as simple as that sounds, was absolutely heavenly. On one particular day I drank three cups of the Antigua this way. The more I had it, the more I loved it.

The coffee itself is a solid medium roast – definitely not one that will leave you wanting. Strong fruity notes reverberate throughout the entire process of crafting a cup of coffee from the Antigua, the strongest stage being grinding. Every time I would grind a batch the entire room would fill with the savory scent. These smells transfer nicely into the finished product, giving the coffee a lighthearted and carefree taste. Don’t be confused though, this is not a “light” coffee in the truest sense of the word. Strong notes ring through as well, giving the brew a rich undertone that will jar one to reality if consumed in the morning. It’s safe to say that the Antigua Bella Carmona is a versatile coffee. Its deliciousness can be enjoyed morning, noon, or night. I would strongly suggest Kohana’s Antigua Bella Carmona to both the coffee connoisseur and the casual consumer alike. Buy it here.

One other aspect of Kohana Coffee that’s well worth pointing out is their great website and social media outlets. Their website is more than just a store – it actually has a surprising wealth of information regarding their coffee, and coffee in general. For instance, check out their brewing tips here. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter as well.

I can’t wait to try more coffee from Kohana Coffee! If slow roasting is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

The Coffee Guy