Good to the last drop Growing coffee industry making its way to Hays County

It’s no secret that coffee is a key component of the average American morning routine.

So much so, Austin and San Antonio, both big coffee hubs, ranked in the top 100 cities in America for a good cup of coffee, according to a new 2018 study by Wallethub.

Those results leave the Central Texas area, in particular, Hays County, prime real estate for a growing coffee industry. Austin ranked 17th on the list of top cities for coffee, the highest in Texas. Experts at Wallethub credited the high ranking based on the high number of coffee shops per capita and a growing demand for coffee from smaller and developing shops.

According to reports, the U.S. coffee industry is currently valued at $48 billion.

Part of this new wave of coffee enthusiasts is Tyler Trejo, owner and founder of Café Azteca in San Marcos. Trejo learned his craft in San Antonio, home of a thriving and growing craft coffee scene.

Using his Mexican roots, Trejo incorporates recipes passed from his family, deeply rooted in the culture of Latin America.

“After being a manager at Starbucks, I left the company to see how I could incorporate culture into a cup of coffee,” Trejo said. “I took organizational skills from Starbucks, but I learned how to become a craftsman of coffee when I started Café Azteca.”

San Marcos has the largest amount of coffee shops in its city limits compared to any other city in Hays County, largely credited to Texas State University. However, some of Trejo’s customers come from across the county, including Kyle.  

Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at Wallethub, said she believes more people are beginning to move away from bigger coffee chains and investing into local businesses.

“Coffee has now become part of our culture, and it’s more than just getting your cup in the morning and heading to work,” Gonzalez said. “It’s all about the full experience, and local coffee shops may be able to deliver a more personalized service.”

Gonzalez said despite the coffee market being saturated, the demand has not diminished. According to a recent Reuters poll, 64 percent of Americans aged 18 and older said they consumed a cup of coffee the previous day.

“Local shops are gaining more traction and the trends are changing, but it’ll always be the 80 percent against the 20 percent,” Trejo said. “Big chains have made a name for themselves for delivering fast, high caffeinated coffee. And a lot of people still like that. Coffee is sometimes treated more like a drug, not an art.”

Trejo said the culture of coffee in the United States is still heavily influenced by American consumerism, an ideology that fosters quantity and speed over quality.

Tyler Trejo, owner and founder of Cafe Azteca buys his coffee from Huckleberry Roasters out of Denver, Colorado. Since he has a close relationship with the owners, he knows where his coffee is roasted and in which part of the world it was grown.

As part of the study, Wallethub analyzed both national chains and small businesses alike to conclude which cities comprise a diverse coffee culture.

Texas has two of America’s 50 Best Coffee Shops, a report published by The Daily Mail, which was used as part of Wallethub’s metric for its study.

“Big cities have more an influence. San Antonio’s coffee scene ten years ago was not as big as it is now,” Trejo said. “And those bigger cities have influences from New York, Australia, and around the world, morphing it into its own identity. For me, it’s about connecting my Hispanic culture and those recipes into Café Azteca.”

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