David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto are partners in life and coffee, and together they’ve quietly built Greenway Coffee into one of America’s best coffee roasting companies, and a pillar of the thriving progressive Houston food and beverage scene. Greenway’s eponymous cafe is like no other we’ve seen: a straight up specialty coffee bar in a high-rise business center food court. The brand’s second cafe, Blacksmith, is a bit more conventional, albeit pushing boundaries in terms of how to incorporate a range of cultures, cuisines, and identities into the mold of a traditional American cafe.
Morningstar is their latest concept, slated to open at the end of 2015. Designed by nonagenarian Houston architecture icon John Zemanek, the space promises to unite two of Buehrer’s great passions: coffee and donuts. We’re sharing this with you today as one of our final entries in the 2015 Build-Outs of Summer series; the space is currently under construction but will open in late November 2015.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We started Greenway Coffee Company 7 years ago as an espresso bar in a business center in Houston. 5 years ago, Ecky made the decision to start roasting for our friends in the food and beverage industry and we haven’t looked back since. We now distribute to over 40 locations in and around Houston, and New Orleans. We collaborated with Clumsy Butcher (Anvil, Underbelly, Hay Merchant, Pastry War, Julep) to open Blacksmith 3 years ago as well as OKRA Charity Saloon. Our new store, Morningstar, will be similar in format to Blacksmith, offering breakfast and lunch alongside our coffee and tea program, but with an added pastry element.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
In a lot of ways it’s as Houston as it gets. We befriended John Zemanek, a 93-year-old modernist architect who helped start the University of Houston College of Architecture 50 years ago. He also was on the design team behind the Astrodome, and is the most awarded architect in Houston. He’s also a World War II veteran and Harvard graduate. A total badass, at 93 he is still the sharpest, most forward-thinking architect I’ve encountered here. The interior is filled with his humanist style of open air but enclosed space, with lots of private seating alongside natural elements.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We want to make people happy, throughout the supply chain, from producers to customers, hopefully leaving no one out.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine, Seraphim pour-over tap by Wilbur Curtis Co., and a proprietary water filtration project with Everpure to introduce and regulate magnesium levels in the water supply.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Shooting for November 2015.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Sorry, already mentioned John Zemanek ?. Matthew America will again do all art-based design projects associated with Morningstar!