Can You Still Get Coffee from Little City, Though?
Or is that a nostalgia-tinted dream of old-school townies?
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
10:30AM, Mon. Aug. 3, 2020
Well, of course you can get coffee from Little City roasters, Austinite!
But we can understand how you’d be unsure, even though Little City was among the roasters mentioned in our recent Five Local Coffee Subscriptions round-up – because, in that post, they were included only as part of what was available via Creature’s delivery-by-mail service.
So, thanks for asking, and the answer is yes: Little City hasn’t been an actual sit-down-and-chill cafe since 2011 – as noted in this excellent, community-informed remembrance by Dan Gentile – but they’re still supplying roasted beans all over this town, and you can get ’em direct to your own pandemically sheltered abode.
There’s an odd thing, though.
Well, okay, not really odd. More like, hmmmm, what’s up with that, exactly?
Because another one of the local roasters on that Creature roster is Casa Brasil. And the Little City brand was acquired by Casa Brasil’s Joel Shuler after the physical cafes shuttered.
And Gentile told you about Little City, and Brenner’s told you about Casa Brasil. But we’ve never told you … because we’ve never known … because we’d never asked … “Hey, Joel? Casa Brasil is such a well-known and admired name in these here parts, but you take over Little City and you don’t just fold the apparatus – the beans, the farm connections, the actual roasting equipment and so on – into the Casa Brasil empire, you keep the Little City name intact, and – why is that? Is there a business reason? A personal reason? What sort of consideration goes into such a decision?”
So we’re asking now.
Joel Shuler: We never really thought about rolling it into Casa Brasil. It was such a special place, we wanted to keep its spirit alive. Going to Little City on Congress Avenue was one of my first experiences in Austin and I fell in love with it the moment I walked in – great coffee and food, laid back, welcoming atmosphere.
Austin Chronicle: So it was a sort of homage, then?
Joel Shuler: Well, also, Casa Brasil's focus is on sourcing some of the best coffees from Brazil each harvest. And I didn't want to stray from that focus, but I’d started traveling to other origins, had developed some great relationships with growers and found some incredible coffees that I wanted to bring to Austin. Little City was the perfect place for these, and so we expanded our direct trade model to Little City …
Austin Chronicle: So you’re working with coffee not just from Brazil, now, but from around the globe?
Joel Shuler: Exactly. And in 2014 I moved to Brazil to pursue a degree in post-harvest coffee processing, and since completing my degree I’ve had the good fortune of teaching and working as a consultant on coffee projects all over the world – Colombia, Ethiopia, DRC, Myanmar, China, the Philippines, and others. Through that work the direct trade’s flourished and we’ve been able to support some great projects and are bringing amazing coffees to Austin.
Austin Chronicle: And now, with all this pandemic shit … ?
Joel Shuler: With COVID and quarantining, we decided to take our "Everybody deserves a great cup of coffee" mantra a step further through our order-roast-deliver program where Austinites can order by midnight and we’ll roast and deliver the coffee to them the next business day.
Austin Chronicle: Really? The next business day?
Joel Shuler [nods, smiling]: The next business day.
And now, reader, now you – and we – know.
Hurray for an informed citizenry – MOAR JAVA FOR US ALL!
And so we pause for a moment to remind you that Eastside vegan powerhouse Dear Diary also offers a subscription service, and then we’re AFK to access the tasty Third Coast Coffee that’s been brewing in our own automatic drip down the hall.
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