Coffee Culture

A Dichtomy employee hand crafts a cappuccino for a customer at the bar.

Story by Natalie Burch; Photos by Emily Hicks

As Waco’s community continues to grow, many new developments have begun to brew. None are more noticeable than the recently opened coffee shops downtown.

“It has its own little world. We have our own celebrities, and camps and conventions that are not completely seen by the common consumer,” said Cody Ferguson, chief coffee officer of Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits.

Dichotomy, which opened a shop in Croft Art Gallery in October 2013, originally started to serve coffee at the Waco Downtown Famers Market in April 2012, and was one of the very first specialty coffee establishments in Waco.

“We took a risk not offering syrups or nonfat milk or any of the things that people really considered popular in coffee, but it went over really well,” Ferguson said. “We tried to educate people that this. . . is what it is and it’s something kind of different.”

Waco has come a long way over the four years since two roasting companies were introduced into the coffee community.
“Waco in the last four years has become a place where you can actually get a decent cup of coffee,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said in the coffee community, all of the smaller shops aren’t necessarily competing with each other as much as they are with the large chains such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.

“I want it to be really enjoyable. I want it to be unique,’” Ferguson said. “If you are changing someone’s taste… You aren’t really pulling business away from anybody except for those people, who in my opinion destroy coffee.”

Ferguson mentioned Pinewood Coffee, which recently opened inside Alpha Omega, a grill and bakery located at 929 Franklin Avenue. He doesn’t necessarily view it as a competitor as much as business run by fellow coffee lovers.

“Yes, I would love to bring more business to Dichotomy, but I think that is going to be done through other shops opening,” Ferguson said. “It doesn’t just have to be us.”

The history behind Dichotomy and Pinewood is long. Dylan Washington, one of the owners from Pinewood Roasters, shared how the relationship between Dichotomy and Pinewood began. Washington and five other men who are now key workers at Dichotomy, one of the men, Brett Jameson, being an owner, all worked at the Starbucks located at Central Texas Marketplace.

“So six people total all worked at that Starbucks at the same time and it was a time of super mental fermentation,” Washington said. “We discovered Intelligentsia and PT’s, all these roasters who were doing all these different things.”

Washington talked about how the six of them would brew Intelligentsia, an artisan coffee brand based out of Chicago, to serve to the customers instead of the Starbucks coffee they thought they ordered.

“You know, it was kind of like an underground movement,” Washington said.

After working at the Starbucks together, all of them talked about opening their own shops and starting to roast their own coffee beans, and bringing their product to Waco.

Washington started roasting beans in a skillet as a hobby in college. He built a roaster out of a barbecue grill with his grandpa and started to sell roasted beans to all his neighbors.

“That was my freshman year at Baylor and from that point on I was like, ‘I’m going to start a coffee roaster when I graduate,’” Washington said. “I met [business partner] J.D. Beard my senior year at Common Grounds. He and I both worked there all through college. Then we were like, ‘Yo, let’s do this.’”

Three months ago the pair established the Pinewood Coffee shop in Alpha Omega. Washington said they had the opportunity to open it because he had waited tables at 1424 Bistro, another restaurant owned by the owners of Alpha Omega. The family that owns Alpha Omega approached him with the idea of establishing a coffee shop of theirs inside the restaurant.

“[They] knew I was roasting, I had my own business, and I was trying to make it,” Washington said. “We agreed and came in and designed that corner and as you can see it’s completely different than the rest of the place.”

Washington said that their shop inside Alpha Omega is only temporary. They have been searching for the right building to establish a stand-alone coffee shop downtown sometime within the next year.

“We had the opportunity to be downtown and serve coffee and we didn’t really care what that looked like because it’s temporary,” Washington said of the space they rent.

Washington said that in less than a year they will open their own shop with a roaster, good seating and good Wi-Fi.
“You’ll see it, you’ll smell it, and you can get good coffee,” Washington said.