The Austin Chronicle

Merit Coffee Moves to Town

By Alisha McDarris, February 1, 2018, 5:45pm, On the Range

Austin’s coffee addicts won’t accept less than the best, and there’s a new San Antonio-based coffee roaster in town that's pursuing perfection. Merit Coffee boldly states that their goal is to serve the best coffee available anywhere, and without the attitude that sometimes accompanies specialty coffee shops.

Merit started as Local Coffee in 2008 in San Antonio, but after six cafes sprouted, followed by Merit Roasting Co. in 2014, owner Robby Grubbs and Bill Ellis decided it was time to branch out. A name like “Local” didn’t feel as authentic anymore, so Grubbs and Ellis changed the name to align with their roasting company. While Local Coffee claims to have helped establish the specialty coffee scene in San Antonio, that scene is already thriving in Austin.

The new storefront boasts the same quality and expertise that customers are familiar with from Local Coffee, but the clientele is a bit different. “So far, the biggest difference we've seen is how inquisitive guests have been,” says Grubbs. “I think our Austin guests as a whole are really interested in the depths of Merit, from the people, to the coffee execution, sourcing across the equator, and roasting.”

Baristas are happy to talk about the brand’s focus on seasonal single origin lots and total product control. They’ll inform customers about the origins and sourcing of the beans, as well as the temperature and duration of the roasting, which according to Merit, results in the finest small-batch specialty coffee available.

Merit is also dedicated to their fair price policies. While charging market price for coffee might prove more intimidating to the uninitiated patrons than the owners realize, the logic stems from a fair price focus that goes all the way back to their relationships with growers.

“We only price guest teas and slow pour coffees this way, both of which are more unusual offerings that rotate more quickly than anything else on the menu. These smaller-batch slow pour coffees and teas generally vary greatly in price. If a certain coffee is more expensive, like the Panama Geisha, we keep that value with that specific coffee as another way to communicate its worth clearly with the customer,” says Jamie Issets, director of green coffee.

The new, modern space is full of steel, pine, and windows. And because they’re aware street parking at Seaholm can be a nightmare, they validate parking in the garage up to an hour. In addition to the company’s blends, customers will find pastries from San Antonio’s Bakery Lorraine, TacoDeli breakfast tacos, juices from Juice Society, and donuts from Maybelle’s.

The storefront is located at 222 West Ave. #120 in the Seaholm District.

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