2Ten Coffee Roasters, El Paso, TX
3007 Montana Ave, El Paso, TX (Roastery)
245 East Sunset Rd, El Paso, TX (Cafe)
It shouldn't surprise anyone when I say that for the past few years, I've dreamed of opening up a coffee shop. Opening one in the near term isn't in the cards, but it's been a thought in my head ever since my infatuation for independent coffee shops developed. I date this though back to 2014 when I was living abroad and attending graduate school in London. In fact, I'll tell you a little secret. In 2015, I bought tickets to attend the London Coffee Festival on the Trade Day and posed as American from Seattle who was playing with the idea of opening up a coffee shop in Seattle. How lame am I, right? I wanted so badly to talk with the importers, roasters and coffee shop owners about the realities and often undiscussed struggles of opening a shop. From the outside, coffee shop owners seem to have the best gig around. I don't know about you, but being in the business of coffee looks and sounds great. However, I quickly learned that it takes a lot of grit, hard-work and pure HUSTLE to be in the coffee business. It's more than designing attractive interiors and sourcing quality coffee.
In my last visit to El Paso, I was fortunate to visit with Steve Svoboda, the creator and owner of 2Ten Coffee Roasters, and chat about his journey in opening up a shop in El Paso.
Iced pour over
Served by one of 2Ten's friendly & knowledgable baristas.
Steve worked in telecommunication consulting when a friend of his brought his attention to an opportunity to takeover Bear Creek Coffee. After a chain of events and connections, Steve eventually purchased Bear Creek Coffee and continued the venture of selling small-batch-roasted Arabica beans to customers in El Paso. He began by delivering freshly-roasted coffee to individuals in El Paso. He also worked to earn a place on the shelves of convenience stores like Walgreens in the area.
While I listened to Steve, I had to keep in mind that around 2010 timeframe, the buzz that currently exists around specialty coffee was rather non-existent. The consideration of coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, as opposed to just a standard commodity, wasn't quite in bloom. The third wave of coffee which we're very familiar with in 2018 was fairly new, so selling it door to door and through convenience stores was no easy feat.
The goal of many roasters is to sell their beans whole sale to restaurants and shops. The key is to partner with these storefronts who adopt the roaster's brand and perpetuate it in the community. Keeping this in mind, Steve kept working. He found a lucrative 4000 sq ft warehouse to roast his small-batch coffee and also garnered a coffee shop from Iowa and brought it down to El Paso to establish a storefront (yes, the coffee shop was moveable)! His business was really beginning to blossom.
And then a catastrophic warehouse fire destroyed everything in 2014, forcing him to quickly conceive and execute solutions to continue his business. He pushed through the devastation and sourced beans from a trusted roaster to match the profiles of his prior inventory and ensured his customers had minimal disruption during this tragic event. Talk about dedication right? It was in this time that Steve moved his roastery to its current location on Montana Avenue out of pure necessity. This smaller space gave him and his folks the space necessary to continue roasting beans, the heart of his operation. This roastery is the one you can visit on Montana Avenue today.
What determination, right? Steve could have given up and moved on, but he kept with it. And it's paid off. He's got many wholesale deals! Hillside Donuts and Coffee and Salt and Honey Cafe - two of the more popular places in El Paso for breakfast - roast 2Ten coffee. And those are just a couple of which I'm immediately aware.
During this time, Steve also transitioned the name of his business to one that is all his own: 2Ten Coffee Roasters. Why 2Ten? Because water is kept in the roaster at 210 degrees, just two degrees below the 212 degree boiling point so it won't evaporate and quickly disappear. Who knew, right? Okay maybe you did, but I didn't. I found it so witty. I love names you need to think about (just a little bit).
On this warm afternoon, I tried the store's recommendation: a Japanese iced coffee. As the picture at the top shows, coffee is brewed through the pour over method with a higher volume of coffee grounds and dripped straight onto ice. 2Ten used a Khalita wave for this particular pour-over and had three options of light/medium roasts. I chose their single-origin from Brazil and really enjoyed it. So much so I bought a bag to bring home.
Many people have strong feelings about iced pour over vs cold brew that I'd love to talk about, but we'll save that lengthy conversation for another post :)
2Ten has three locations in El Paso. If you want to chat with a knowledgeable barista and see how the beans are roasted, check out the roastery. If you're looking for breakfast options and great ambience, go the Sunset location. On the go and just want to try their coffee out? Hit up the double drive thru on North Resler. You can't really go wrong!
Thanks for allowing me to share you story on Coffee Hunch, Steve. Your fortitude and persistence is an inspiration!