At the beginning of this year, I was faced with a problem.
I really wanted to travel somewhere for my birthday. I wanted to see new lands, experience new spaces, and escape reality for just a little while. I wanted to eat delicious food, discover amazing coffee, and purchase more books than I reasonably have time to read.
But I sure as hell did not want to get on another fucking airplane to do it.
As I searched for new destinations to visit, I had to admit that I was burnt out on flying. In 2017 alone, I had flown to Las Vegas, Nevada; Sioux City, South Dakota; Vancouver, British Columbia; Denver, Colorado; and Salt Lake City, Utah for a total of fifteen flights from eight different airports. For individuals who travel for work, this probably sounds like cake, but for an unseasoned traveler like me who cannot for the life of her figure out how to pack light, all the air travel had exhausted me.
So the question became, “What was close enough to reach by car but far enough away to fully escape central Texas?”
Why Marfa, of course.
For those of you who don’t know what the deal with Marfa is, it’s a small town located in southwest Texas, just north of Big Bend National Park, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the U.S./Mexican border. It’s grown in popularity over the past few years due to its quirky personality and art community. Nearby towns of Fort Davis, Alpine, and Marathon also draw visitors for stargazing, nature hikes, art buying, and, well, just a break from our loud and highly-digitized society.
And except for the nature hikes (I prefer my hikes in urban areas), that was just what I was looking for.
Considering Marfa’s isolated location though, I was a little concerned about making the trip. I’m a city girl. I only cook under duress, spend hours a day online, and I’m a major arachnophobe. Art community or not, I was looking at what can be considered this century’s Wild West, with limited restaurant hours, iffy wi-fi, and no pest control. Oh, and did I mention that I get car sick?
More importantly though, I also had no guarantee that there would be good coffee anywhere in the region.
But thankfully, I found that I had nothing to be concerned about (Except for the spiders; there were a lot of those).
The trip started out in Marathon, a town which is basically just the Gage Hotel and a couple of restaurants. Interestingly, it’s considered one of the darkest places in the U.S. at night and is perfect for stargazing (Seriously, the stars were so bright that I didn’t even need my glasses to see them).
It is also home of the V6 Coffee Bar. With a full breakfast menu and delicious coffee from Big Bend Coffee Roasters, the shop is a preferred stop for visitors of the Gage, and my mother and I certainly enjoyed sipping our java at the shaded tables outside, watching the trains zoom past and listening to the birds twittering noisily. It’s an incredibly relaxing and peaceful experience, one which I highly recommend.
After a couple of nights in Marathon, we moved on to Marfa, which is home to Do Your Thing Coffee. Now this was one of those locations that I really wanted to visit but was afraid to visit all at the same time. The shop is highly praised, but reviews online do indicate that it’s hours are sometimes iffy and the service is slow. As a result, I wasn’t quite sure what we would experience when I pulled up to the small warehouse that hosts the joint. The fact that I couldn’t tell if we were in the right spot when we arrived only heightened my anxiety about it.
But I needn’t have feared the place.
It certainly isn’t like any high end coffee shops in the city. Housed in a former lumber shop, the store maintains its warehouse feel, and if it weren’t for the pastry counter and small kitchen in the corner, it honestly could still be used as a storage warehouse. The place only serves a variety of toasts with its coffee, but after all the food I had eaten already that week, that was preferable that morning. It did take a long time for our barista to make our toasts (not sure what the delay was), but the coffee was good and the people watching highly entertaining. (For example: One stylish patron who had been chatting with the barista said, “See you in L.A.!” as she exited the shop. My mother and I assumed that meant the barista was planning a trip to California and that the two had made plans to meet up while she was in town. That was until the barista looked over at another friend, confused, and said, “I wonder if that’s how she says goodbye to everyone?” So in conclusion, I now have a new catch phrase.)
Overall, it wasn’t my favorite stop, but I will say that it is a must-stop if you want a true Marfa coffee experience.
That being said, my favorite coffee shop experience actually occurred while we were in Alpine, Texas, a town for which I had very few expectations when planning my trip.
I think my lack of excitement for the town came from the lack of publicity the place gets comparatively to Marfa, Fort Davis, and Marathon, but it’s actually the largest town out of the four. It is home to Sul Ross State University, several art galleries, Front Street Books, and the wonderful Cedar Coffee & Supply.
Honestly, I found this place by accident! I was searching for parking, and it just happened to be right there.
The first day we visited, I grabbed a Rose Lemonade to cool myself down after walking around in the sun, but I loved the vibe so much that I made it mandatory that we stop on our way back home so that I could try the coffee. The store currently sells coffee from Novel Coffee Roasters (a Dallas roaster that I’ve mentioned before) as well as a variety of items from the Department of Brewology (which I love as they sell products with phrases such as “Filter Coffee, Not People” and “Make Coffee, Not War”).
Admittedly, the food menu is limited, but the flavor is not, and the same goes for their coffee, which I could sip all day.
And if that’s not enough to encourage you to visit, the people who work there should. They are so kind and genuine, and I don’t mean that in a they-smiled-at-us-and-said-thank-you sort of way. I mean it in a these-people-have-found-the-meaning-of-life-and-are-at-peace-with-all-that-is sort of way. It’s kind of an experience in itself just interacting with them.
10/10, highly recommend.
Believe it or not, this post doesn’t recount all of my coffee adventures in Southwest Texas (I should have never doubted that my coffee addiction would be fully supported in these small, artsy towns). My visit to Big Bend Coffee Roasters deserves its own post though, so stay tuned next week as I continue with Part II.
See you in L.A.!
The one and the only Pookachino