New wave coffee shop owner makes a print on local art scene
Story and Photos by Bradi Zapata
For Andreas Zaloumis, owner of Third Space Theory coffee cart, “THRST,” each day introduces new community, adventure and destinations. Thursday through Saturday, he puts on the hat of a coffee guru at the Austin Avenue location, but Sunday through Wednesday, he is a one-man band, performing the roles of a videographer, photographer and fashion designer.
Although he has only been in the Waco community for one year, Zaloumis is involved in numerous video, photo and fashion projects and aspires to one day open a business that encompasses all of these projects.
He envisions owning a cozy space where the community can enjoy decadent coffee, intricate black-and-white photographs, a high-quality clothing line, a graffiti wall and musical performances. This space would give creatives a platform to express themselves and meet others with similar interests.
“Establishing those connections and meeting like-minded people is really great,” Cole Jackson, Zaloumis’ friend, said. “When I started taking photographs, I literally thought that I was the only one in Waco who was shooting film, but then I met a ton of other people doing the same thing. Being able to bring people together is so important.”
Since Zaloumis works for himself, his days vary each week, but he largely focuses on spending a lot of time with his wife, Bianca, and daughter, Kora. He tries to expose his daughter to creative work through teaching her the alphabet, numbers, writing and more recently, introducing math. He always tries to provide a good balance between learning and playing.
Zaloumis spends the late evenings and early mornings focusing on himself and working on his art. After Bianca and Kora go to bed, Zaloumis watches documentaries, YouTube videos and experiments with new and old editing software. Zaloumis takes this time to expand his knowledge and improve his skills as much as possible.
Zaloumis is motivated by hearing incredible stories and meeting new people in all of his endeavors. He visually shares their stories in creative ways by using unusual angles, clear focal points with blurry surroundings and a blend of close and wide shots. While at THRST, Zaloumis verbally shares their stories by introducing customers to one another and giving two strangers reasons to connect.
“My entrepreneurial journey started because I was amazed by the stories I would hear in documentaries about people chasing their dreams and achieving the impossible,” Zaloumis said. “I get inspired by hearing other people’s stories. Whether they’re doing something that they love or just talking about it, [I love when] they share it with the world.”
This fascination pours into every aspect of THRST. Third Space Theory, the full name of the shop, is defined by giving people a space to share their stories and overcome obstacles.
The Third Space Theory is Edward W. Soja’s idea that individuals have three diverse spaces where they can interact physically and socially. The first space is often defined as home, the second as work or school and the third as a hybrid space between work and home.
“Society craves a third space to come together as a community. For some people that means a church, a coffee shop or both,” Bianca, Zaloumis’ wife and business partner, said. “We really felt that Waco loves these spaces where they can come together and there is room for more of them.”
For this purpose, in THRST and in every other project, he carries out four missions; to produce high-quality items, create consistent products, add to Waco’s community and connect with customers.
Within the fashion industry, Zaloumis aims to exercise these missions by producing high-quality clothes that are durable and retain their initial color and shape.
From a young age, Zaloumis loved learning about different fabrics and trends, but saw a lack of fabric containing high-quality cotton blends. Aiming to fill this gap, he began designing and creating clothes once he grew older.
Two years ago, Zaloumis created his own line of T-shirts, KABZ, which were solely sold online. The first launch generated $700 due to his effective marketing strategies, meaningful designs and progressive mission.
“KABZ is a brand that aspires to inspire free thinkers. Our creations tie into the world we live in and bring awareness to issues through fashion. Look sharp. Enjoy life. Stay true,” the about page on Kabzlyfe’s Facebook said.
Currently the KABZ line is on pause, but he is working on partnering with a designer and a screen printer to re-brand the KABZ line and produce more originally designed and well-made products. This new line will be sold out of the THRST storefront.
In the storefront, Zaloumis also plans to showcase his photography. He envisions black and white photographs strung upon the walls, each telling their own stories with fascinating subjects and creative angles. There will be a mix of his own images and those of local outstanding photographers, such as Jackson.
In this space, Jackson and Zaloumis aspire to meet with a group of photographers to discuss upcoming projects, camera settings, the creative process behind capturing an image and push one another to do their best. Zaloumis and Jackson have already discussed these subjects among themselves, but believe they can accomplish more with a larger group.
Like his photography, Zaloumis uses video as a way to visually connect with the community. Video was actually one of the main reasons that Zaloumis fell in love with Waco’s community and was compelled to move here a little over one year ago.
Zaloumis first stumbled upon Waco while doing technical support for the startup company Waitr. He visited local businesses, such as Fox & Grey, Hecho en Waco and Guess Family Barbeque. Each fascinated him with their unprecedented atmosphere and left him curious about what more Waco had to offer.
After this visit, First Row Fashion asked Zaloumis to come back to Waco and create a video for their fashion show.
Since he was blown away by Waco’s culture, he asked Bianca and their daughter, Kora, to accompany him for the show.
“We were bombarded by many super friendly and interesting people,” Bianca said. “I was immediately in love with Waco. People here genuinely want to get to know you and your story. They care [about you] and want to connect.”
Because of Waco’s friendly and familial community, Bianca quit her job shortly after that visit and they began a new chapter in Waco.
“Waco offers a lot of opportunities with a low competitive aspect,” Zaloumis said. “It allows me to grow with the business slowly as opposed to investing a lot of money and not really understanding the background … It provided the ability to grow with the community, opposed to just planting myself in somewhere like a big city.”
Zaloumis felt that Waco allowed him to pursue careers in the photo, video and fashion industries, but he ultimately chose coffee because he wanted something the whole family could be involved in.
Kora helps him run the cart each Friday and interacts with customers, completing sales and making rich, creamy hot chocolate.
Likewise, Bianca substantially helps him behind the scenes in addition to running the register every Saturday.
“We’ve always talked about [opening a business], but actually seeing it come to life, there’s a romance behind seeing what we can accomplish together… he truly makes all of my dreams come true,” Bianca said.
Zaloumis makes his coffee by carefully selecting the best coffee beans made in different regions, which produce unique flavors and extracts. He uses a single cup brew technique, where he grinds a limited number of beans to make one cup, then over time adds a consistent amount of hot water.
Since this style of brewing only produces one cup at a time, it ensures that each cup is fresh, has balanced flavors, is a comfortable temperature and has an overall even extraction of flavor from the coffee bean.
Zaloumis said he sometimes fears not succeeding and questions why anyone would want to be part of his creative visions; a fear common with any entrepreneurial adventure.
“I think why I’m doing it matters. I want to make an impact, so if I can get over that fear, I know I’ll be able to succeed,” Zaloumis said. “It’s with consistency, quality and connecting with the community that anything is possible.”
Customers can find THRST from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday through Saturday in Cultivate 7Twelve at 712 Austin Ave.
A Day in the Life of Andreas Zaloumis
Sunday through Wednesday Focuses on attending meetings, doing videography and photography and networking
Practices his video/photo skills by exploring Waco and shooting as much as he can
During this time, he also meets with other like-minded creatives
Wednesday Begins prepping the coffee cart for business
This includes getting supplies, posting on social media and mentally preparing for the opportunity to connect with as many customers as he can for the next three days of service
Thursday through Saturday Serves pour-over coffee at his family’s coffee cart