There are several coffee shops in Houston these days that make sure their profits go toward good causes, and Avid Coffee Co. is the newest of the bunch. It's a new coffee truck that parks in Garden Oaks and the Heights, but the business actually started off as a small roasting company specializing in microlot coffee. If you've never heard of microlot coffee, you're not alone. As Avid Coffee founder Matthew McKenzie explains to the Houston Press, it basically just means that you're drinking coffee sourced from a single farm, as opposed to single origin coffee, which is usually sourced from a region or from a farming collective within that region.
The truck was formerly Espresso Rescue, and when McKenzie saw it for sale on Craigslist a few month ago, he jumped at the chance to buy it. McKenzie, who first learned about coffee while working at Starbucks, started roasting in 2014, and has spent the past three years hoping to open a truck or shop. You'll find the coffee truck in its new incarnation, as Avid Coffee, parked either on North Shepherd in front of Garden Oaks Baptist Church or in the Heights at White Oak Baptist Church, where McKenzie serves the community, including a rush of parents dropping off kids for preschool. For him, the experience of serving coffee is just as much about sharing the stories of his coffee's farmers.
McKenzie says that doing missionary work actually turned him on to advocating for farmers' working conditions and their communities' quality of life abroad. In one such instance, after "working with farmers in East Asia for six months, I got back and was trying to figure out how to continue working for farmers in the states. Coffee was a great way to do that. We have a passion for it, and we're hoping to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers."
The truck has been in operation for only a couple of weeks, and is still seeking new locations to park at, and hopes to add events and catering to its lineup as well.
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"I roast everything fresh myself, so you're getting great high-quality stuff, fresh as possible."
This includes roasts from Sumatra with sweet notes and herbal complexities, from the Provence of Yunan with its rich, almondy flavors, and from Honduras, which McKenzie normally uses for espresso drinks. That bean specifically is from "a farm run by Americans who also run an orphanage off the farm and use the proceeds to run the orphanage."
With that in mind, McKenzie says that the truck operates primarily to support these farmers and communities, rather than making a profit. Brewed coffee is $2.50 for regular (12 ounces), $3 for large (20 ounces). Lattes are $3.75 regular and $4.50 for large. There are also smoothies and tea available.