There’s an old saying ‘round these parts: “if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute.” And true to form, we’ve traded hot hot heat for gusty winds on Day Two of Sprudge’s live coverage of the Roaster’s Village at South by Southwest. But we’re out here, wind-blown and gritty teethed (but all this dust has added some nice volume to my hair), taking a look at four more of the all-killer-no-filler coffee brands that made the trip to Austin with us. Let’s dive right in, shall we.
Chicago’s Intelligentsia really showed out for the Roaster’s Village. On top of a full-service espresso bar—serving Honey Badger espresso on a two-group La Marzocco Linea and Mahlkönig K30 grinder—the Intelli crew came with a full roster of Kilogram Teas, both iced and hot, chai lattes, and the Limelight, a cocktail consisting of cold coffee on tap, lime juice, and simple syrup all shaken together and topped with a splash of tonic.
It was the perfectly zippy drink I needed to perk me up after maybe getting a little too activated at all the SXSW parties the night previous.
To truly love coffee, you must love it in all its iterations. Including decaf. And Swiss Water is making it easy for even caffeine fiends to admit they like decaf, thanks to their nitro cold brew floats. With a Stumptown-roasted coffee from Colombia in tow, Swiss Water is soft-serving their way into attendees’ hearts.
There is very little in the way of signage at the Swiss Water booth to let folks know that what they are drinking is indeed uncaffeinated, so it was always fun to watch the reactions when the big reveal is made mid-float. There were more than a few raised eyebrows and some very deep looks inward: “Do I like decaf?” Yes. Yes you do.
Vega Coffee operates under an entirely different coffee business model. All their coffees are roasted at origin and then shipped to consumers worldwide within five days from the roast date. Originally only offering coffee from their home base in Estelí, Nicaragua, Vega has very recently—like, a month ago—opened a second operation in Popayán, Colombia.
This farmer direct model allows Vega to pay workers at origin four to five times what they would normally make, co-founder Rob Terenzi told me as I was munching on some delicious 70% cacao Nicaraguan dark chocolate Vega had on offer at their booth. One such person is Diego Lopez Perez, one of the producers in Nicaragua who, thanks to financial support from Fabretto, was able to come to Austin and engage with the coffee-consuming public, with Terenzi acting as translator.
Tiny House Coffee
A last minute addition to the Roaster’s Village, Austin’s Tiny House Coffee is looking to shift perceptions about where you can find good coffee. Now in their second year of existence, Tiny House isn’t a roaster you’re going to find on the guest program at a multi-roaster cafe; they’re going to be in your offices, gas stations, CrossFit gyms, places where everyone drinks coffee but maybe not always the best coffee. “We think unconventional places are the frontier of specialty coffee,” co-founder Blake Thomas stated.
And indeed, Tiny House is meeting customers where they are, both literally and figuratively. Along with kegged nitro as well as bagged cold brew (and concentrate), Tiny House offers a variety of roast levels to ease coffee acolytes into more modern profiles. Folks may start their journey with Tiny House’s dark roasted Rwanda before getting adventurous and moving towards the medium roast, currently a coffee from Huila, Colombia. And then finally, they’re going full light roast with the lovely Ethiopia Limmu Kossa. Coffee is a journey, and Tiny House is there with you every step of the way.
Tune in tomorrow as we bring you four more coffee brands slinging the good stuff at the Sprudge-curated Roaster’s Village here at SouthBites. And make sure you are checking out our Instagram live stories for all the live action as it is happening live.