A coffee shop should serve two purposes. The main reason for their existence is to provide an immediate resolution to the physiological I-need-my-caffeine-fix-now sensation. This is where Starbucks—and even the Valero corner—come into play. The secondary reason for coffee shops is to provide a gathering place that fosters community and the exchange of ideas. Fortunately, Local Coffee excels at both of these aspects, in particular at their new location in the Pearl Brewery.
I have been a fan of Local Coffee for a while, even though their first location was located in Stone Oak, far away from my house at the time, because the ownership created a real gathering place. Moving to Mahncke Park a couple of years ago, I was happy to be near the Alamo Heights location. The shop’s atmosphere was different than its Northside sister store, namely being attached to a bicycle store.
But the latest location in the Pearl Brewery has become my favorite. Light pours into the establishment with windows on three different sides of the building. The baristas are situated in an island in the middle of the store with barstools surrounding it, recalling an old school diner feel. Sitting at the bar gives you an inside look to what’s happening behind the counter along with getting to chat with some of the coffee professionals.
There are also plenty of comfortable chairs and tables throughout the establishment. There’s another bar along the windows as well as patio seating that opens to the same courtyard as Cured at Pearl is located. Similar to the Esquire and Brooklynite bars, the folks behind the counter are dressed in the current hipster fashion, but carry none of the hipster pretense towards customers. The throwback dress and facial hair (there are some righteous handlebar mustaches) add to the environment, largely rehabbed with materials on site from the original brewery. Local Coffee is also prime people watching location on Saturday mornings with the Farmer’s Market in full effect.
But more than community, Local Coffee serves a good cup of Joe. While you can definitely get a reasonably priced refillable mug of drip coffee, I decided to opt for something special on this visit, ordering a double espresso macchiato. Riding the wave of the current slow pour craze, Local Coffee also offers different flavors with varieties of the week listed on their chalkboard.
Another thing to like about this coffee shop is that their pastries are sourced locally from nearby Bakery Lorraine. While you can’t go wrong with the bakery’s sticky bun, I decided to order the strawberry faux Pop-Tart after reading about it in the SA Current. The pastry was packed with way more filling that you ever get from a Kellogg’s variety with having the added benefit of being preservative free.
The only drawback is that the coffee shop closes at 8:00PM on most weeknights. As the Pearl opens more residential units, I hope that this would change. After all, some of the greatest ideas and conversation come over a cup of coffee late at night.