Queer-Owned Austin Coffee Shops Share Their Stories

Getting coffee from the LGBT and making the perfect espresso


Scones and Superthing small-batch roasted coffee at Patika (Photo by Carli René / @inkedfingers)

From late-night, ill-advised cold brew to early morning espresso perfectly pulled, getting your java just hits different when procured from a local, queer-owned establishment, and Austin's got plenty to choose from. Here are three queer-owned coffee businesses whose cups take our fair city's violet crown.

Luna Espresso

Most folks will know Luna Espresso (lunaespresso.com) by its original name, Stay While, which it had while in the on-site shipping container and inside bar of the Little Gay Shop. But the business started by Danielle Garcia in January 2020 has, like many of us during the past three years, evolved. Now named after Garcia's late pit bull pup Luna, the caffeine dealer left its physical location after Garcia put all her chips into a mobile cart. That gamble has paid off in a partnership with the Moody Center. So far Garcia says they've served Americanos and cold brew to the backstage crew for Kevin Hart, Florence + the Machine, and one Mr. Harold Styles. Having the portable coffee biz also means Garcia gets to provide a safe space for queer folks looking to connect sans spirits: "With the queer community [it's] like either you go to a bar or you go to something more like you have to be of age for, and coffee's a new avenue."

Recommended: cappuccino, aka Garcia's "perfect drink."

Patika

The story of partners Andy Wigginton and Nick Krupa's haven of coffee and pastry finery starts in a different gay city: San Francisco circa 2005. A taste test of Blue Bottle Coffee at a farmers' market sent their taste buds on a new journey to find "really great coffee," as Wigginton says, until eventually that search became Patika (2159 S. Lamar, patikacoffee.com) in 2010. Originally a mobile cart, the cafe evolved into the brick-and-mortar on South Lamar, where they serve Wigginton and Krupa's own Superthing roasted beans. For Wigginton, the difference between owning a coffee shop and any other eatery is stark: "[A] regular at a restaurant comes maybe once a month, you know, if it's crazy once a week," he says. "But coffee shops, they come every day. And so it's your very fast track to learning about these people and being a part of their daily experience." That daily experience also includes the delicious baked goods and brunch program of culinary director Bria Jones, who developed the brown butter syrup behind the recent Patika menu addition, the brown butter cinnamon latte.

Recommended: Obviously try that brown butter cinnamon latte, but Wigginton also reps their cappuccino because "we do the milk right [and] we pull the espresso right."

Mary's Café

Red River is home to many great cafes, and Mary's Café (3209 Red River, maryscafeatx.com) – an eight-year institution of coffee, breakfast, and good times – is among the finest. Owner Kenneth Gambone, who named the cafe after his mother who gave him a kidney in his youth, started Mary's to create a community-focused and social space that was lacking in his previous catering work. Being situated near both UT-Austin and St. David's main, the kindness-forward approach of the cafe is meant to welcome people from all walks of life. "Our focus is just accepting everyone for who they are when they come in … especially with the hospital [near us], you don't know what somebody has going on that day," Gambone says. "So we always try to lead with just being kind … When we do have queer people that come in, of course, we're extra nice."

Recommended: While Gambone personally enjoys a simple black Americano, his advice is to pair the double-shot caramel latte with one of their signature Liège waffles, made with a sweet yeast dough.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Luna Espresso, Patika, Mary's Café, Drinks Issue 2022

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