Caffeine addicts consider this: Have you ever tasted coffee roasted so close to you, you can practically smell it from your home?
Coffee drinkers may already appreciate the subtle and rich flavors of Cuvée Black & Blue, the cold coffee drink that is served nitrogenated and straight from the keg. These tempting taps can be found all around Austin and the Lake Travis area. And Cuvée now offers nitrogenated cans for take-home caffeine concoctions worth trying. They make some clean and mean coffee, too, as their East Sixth St. coffee shop can boast.
The whole operation, from roasting to packaging takes place in our own backyard in Lake Travis. Their facility out in Spicewood is where all of the magic happens, and where I got to take a peek into their whole process firsthand.
Mike McKim, founder and CEO of Cuvée Coffee caught up with me before a whirlwind trip to El Salvador, one of many frequent trips he makes on his journey to source coffee beans. His passion for roasting, which started humbly in his own garage in Dallas as a part-time hobby has now landed him square in the drivers seat as one of the tastiest coffee roasters in Austin.
After starting up the brand in the early 2000s and moving between Dallas, Houston and Austin for his full-time job, he and his family landed in Austin in 2007 with an eye on making Lake Travis their home. It’s the vibe of Central Texas that drew them to Austin, when a friend introduced them to the Bee Cave area, back before it looked anything like it does today. Needless to say, now they call Spicewood their home.
An Emphasis on Sustainability
When enjoying your daily coffee, it’s easy to take for granted all of the people and expertise that go into making every cup. In recent years there has been a push for more sustainable coffee production around the world, and Cuvée is devoted to tackling the task, all the way down to the farmers and their communities.
“We always want to have a positive impact. Whether it’s the consumer drinking our product, whether it’s our employees or the farmers that grow our product — they’re all equally important.”
They pay a premium for their coffee beans, which can then be used in the most responsible and useful ways, such as to pay for much-needed hospitals, infrastructure and schools. McKim took his first trip to Costa Rica in 2001 — a chance to meet his coffee bean farmers firsthand and thank them for all of their hard work. What happened when he got there was more of a mutual thankfulness from his team of farmers — something that stuck with him throughout his years as a coffee roaster. His dedication to improving working conditions all the way down the line of production has spilled over into his roasting facility in Lake Travis, making for some very delicious coffee.
“We buy really high quality coffee; the folks that roast it are skilled, they know what they’re doing, they have a lot of tools to measure the consistency. Our consistency is unwavering.”
It’s this high standard that each batch of coffee that is crafted is held to — from their tropical El Molino Yellow Bourbon coffee to their Classic Spicewood 71. Head of Production is Logan Allender, mixing the art of coffee roasting and engineering to produce some of the freshest coffee in Austin. He is part of a trio of roasters that work on producing the robust flavors known in their brews, bringing out the sometimes hidden aromas that their coffee is best known for. Along with the team of highly skilled and caffeinated coffee tasters, each brew and blend is meticulously tweaked until it reaches perfection.
Coffee Made in Texas, For Texans
On my visit out to Spicewood to Cuvée’s headquarters and roasting facility, I got a real sense of the dedication it takes to be a coffee roaster. Brought together from all walks of life, one thing is the common denominator at Cuvée — their undying devotion to fresh and consistent coffee.
“I think for us the big differentiators are: A. Our brand — we have always focused on the State of Texas, I mean, and will continue to focus on the State of Texas, this is our home. I think the other part is — specialty coffee can be intimidating, sometimes elitist, and that’s not the approach we take. You know, our whole philosophy is ‘Come as you are’,” Mike reiterates as I finish off a stiff latte at their East 6th St. shop.
They ship out dozens of orders a week to retail joints all over Austin, Houston, Dallas and the surrounding areas. The guys are gearing to ramp up production in the next few months in order to keep up with a steadily growing demand from coffee drinkers all over the state. It will be interesting to see and taste just what these aficionados come up with next.
In the meantime keep an eye out for their mainstay Black & Blue nitrogenated coffee to make an appearance on store shelves this year in cans, which can be found at most Whole Foods, including Whole Foods Market Gateway.
22601 Highway 71 West
Spicewood, TX 78669