Exploring a World of Coffee

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Exploring a World of Coffee

Customers visit or work on laptops while sampling coffee from different parts of the world. (VBR)
Customers visit or work on laptops while sampling coffee from different parts of the world. (VBR)

Michelle and Danny Quiroz have been on a coffee journey for more than a decade. Today, they roast beans from all over the world and serve hot, steaming cups of java at Reserva Coffee Roasters in McAllen.

“My husband and I have been coffee enthusiasts for a long time, like over 10 years,” Michelle said. “We really had an affinity for good coffee. Everywhere we would travel we would seek out the local coffees.” The love of good coffee turned into a business idea that began in their garage in 2015, where they installed a coffee roaster and started experimenting with roasting beans.

“We installed the roaster in our home to learn how to roast using a couple hundred pounds of Costa Rican beans,” she said. “Then we started selling our coffee beans at trade shows and other events. The most common question we would get was, ‘Where is your coffee shop?’ That really inspired us to go full circle and open a store. We decided to take a chance. We didn’t want to grow old and retire without every trying to open our own business.”

After a 12-year career as an engineer, Michelle quit her day job and took the lead to open Reserva Coffee Roasters in the Palms Crossing shopping center. The roaster was moved to a warehouse in Mission. The shop was designed relying partly on Michelle’s experience as an engineer with help from Claudia Chanin of NOMA Design Studio.  

Owner Michelle Quiroz teamed up with Claudia Chanin of NOMA Design Studio to create the interior look of Reserva Coffee Roasters. (VBR)
Owner Michelle Quiroz teamed up with Claudia Chanin of NOMA Design Studio to create the interior look of Reserva Coffee Roasters. (VBR)

Reserva not only offers a variety of coffee drinks and bags of roasted beans at the shop, customers can order roasted beans online, including a subscription service where coffee drinkers can select their coffee, shipping intervals and grind size.

The selection changes periodically depending on what beans are available. “The list will change a few times a year because we are buying specialty coffee grade beans,” Michelle said. “And coffee harvesting occurs during different seasons around the world. Current offerings include Costa Rica Tarrazu, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, Guatemala Antigua Santo Domingo and a decaf Colombia Swiss Water Process.

“In our approach to roasting, we like to highlight the country of origin,” she said. “We don’t define our roasting as light or dark, we roast our coffee to highlight the country.” Colombian coffees tend to be light-bodied while Asian coffees produce a heavier-bodied coffee. “African coffees tend to be very tea-like with wine-type of characteristics, such as fruity flavors.”

Like most coffee shops, Reserva’s menu includes everything from lattes to cappuccinos to espressos. Michelle’s love of baking is on display with pastries that are prepared fresh daily, such as chocolate cookies made with espresso, and empanadas. “We also have several breakfast sandwiches and we do them all in house,” she said.  

Coffee shops and cafés have expanded rapidly throughout the country, from large chains like Starbucks to independent operators like Reserva. And Michelle thinks there is plenty of room in the marketplace for everyone.

“We have good working relationships with other coffee cafés,” she said. “I think it’s worth noting that being in the coffee community really is a community made up of coffee professionals. We help each other set the standard.”

Since opening the shop in December 2017, the learning curve has been steep but rewarding. So far, Michelle is pleased with the response from customers.  “The first month was pretty intense,” she said. “We got to find out what people thought about us and what they liked about us.”

From learning to roast coffee beans to opening a full-service coffee café, Michelle wonders what the future may hold, but she is no hurry to expand. “We want to continue working at our café for at least the next 12 months, and then see where it takes us. For us, this is a journey. It’s a marathon for us.”

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.

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