When Progress Coffee opened in 2003, the barista bar’s mixture of local art, fair trade coffees, and an East Austin address seemed novel. But a decade later, Progress’s owners found themselves with a mature business model in an overcrowded area. This prompted a sale of the 78702 location to three young investors who will open Wright Bros. Brew & Brew this fall. The idea behind the new shop is simple but noteworthy: it will offer a menu of carefully curated craft coffees and beers under one roof. As Brew & Brew’s Matt Wright explained, “This was the place my partners and I wanted to hang out at, but couldn’t find.”
They aren’t the only ones working this new angle. Texans can find riffs on the craft beverage hybrid bar at Houston’s Down House, which focuses on coffee, beer, and cocktails; Fort Worth’s Brewed, coffee and beer; Dallas’s Ascension, coffee and wine; and Waco’s upcoming Dichotomy, cocktails and coffee. As Down House owner Chris Cusack pointed out, “Great restaurants often had bad coffee; great bars often had bad food; great coffee shops had a beer selection that was obviously an afterthought. So we got to work.” Though each business is different, they reflect a trend toward one thoughtful and comprehensive shop for beverage lovers who nerd out equally over single origin coffee and bottle-conditioned ale.
The surging Texas craft beer market serves as another catalyst for this shift. As recently as 2008, only 24 microbreweries and brewpubs produced beer in Texas. Today, that number has swelled to 87 and looks primed for further growth. As upstart brewers like Austin Beerworks and Peticolas collect prestigious Great American Beer Festival medals, the Texas craft brew market can now supply a wide variety of high-quality styles to help keep beer taps local. More than fifty percent of the tap walls at Down House and Brew & Brew are local beers, with exceptions for “styles like Ballast Point’s Sculpin [IPA] that Texas can’t quite match yet,” said Grady Wright. Brewed, in Fort Worth, takes