Drinks Issue 2022 – Gay-Owned Austin Coffee Shops Share Their Stories: Getting LGBT Coffee and Making the Perfect Espresso – Food

Scones and small-batch roasted coffee Superthing at Patika (Photo by Carli Rene / @inkedfingers)

From ill-advised late-night cold brew to perfectly shot morning espresso, getting your java hits differently when purchased from a local gay-owned establishment, and Austin is spoiled for choice. Here are three gay-owned coffee companies whose mugs are taking our beautiful city’s purple crown.

Luna Espresso

Most people will know Luna Espresso (lunaespresso.com) by its original name, Stay While, which it had when it was in the on-site shipping container and inside bar of the Little Gay Shop. But the company launched by Danielle Garcia in January 2020 has, like many of us over the past three years, evolved. Now named after Luna, Garcia’s pit bull pup, the caffeine dealer left its physical location after Garcia put all of his chips in a moving cart. This gamble paid off in a partnership with the Moody Center. So far, Garcia says they’ve served Americanos and cold beer to the backstage crew of Kevin Hart, Florence + the Machine and a certain Mr. Harold Styles. Having the portable cafe business also means Garcia can provide a safe space for queer people looking to connect without minds: “With the queer community [it’s] like you either go to a bar or you go to something more that you have to be of age for, and coffee is a new avenue.”

Recommended: cappuccino, aka Garcia’s “perfect drink”.


The story of coffee and baking heaven partners Andy Wigginton and Nick Krupa begins in another gay city: San Francisco circa 2005. A taste test of Blue Bottle Coffee at a farmer’s market sent their taste buds into a new journey to find “really good coffee”, as Wigginton puts it, until that search became Patika (2159 S. Lamar, patikacoffee.com) in 2010. Originally a mobile cart, the coffee became South Lamar’s brick and mortar, where they serve Wigginton and Krupa’s own Superthing Roasted Beans. For Wigginton, the difference between owning a café and any other restaurant is stark: “[A] regular at a restaurant maybe comes once a month, you know, if it’s crazy once a week,” he says. “But the cafes, they come every day. And so it’s your very fast track to learning more about these people and being part of their daily experience. This daily experience also includes the delicious pastries and brunch program of Culinary Director Bria Jones, who developed the brown butter syrup behind the recent Patika. addition to the menu, the latte with brown butter and cinnamon.

Recommended: Obviously try this brown butter and cinnamon latte, but Wigginton also stands for their cappuccino because “we do the milk right [and] we pull the espresso on the right.”

Marie’s Coffee

Red River is home to many great cafes, and Mary’s Café (3209 Red River, maryscafeatx.com) — an eight-year institution of coffee, breakfast, and good times — is among the best. Owner Kenneth Gambone, who named the cafe after his mother who gave him a kidney in his youth, started Mary’s to create a community and social space that his previous restaurant work lacked. Being located near both UT-Austin and St. David’s Main Street, the cafe’s forward-thinking approach is meant to accommodate people from all walks of life. “Our goal is just to accept everyone for who they are when they arrive… especially with the hospital. [near us]you don’t know what anybody did that day,” Gambone says. “So we always try to lead by just being nice… When we have queer people coming in, of course, we’re very nice. “

Recommended: While Gambone personally enjoys a simple black Americano, her advice is to pair the double-shot caramel latte with one of their signature Liège waffles, made with sweet yeast dough.

About Octavia A. Dorr

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