You know how sometimes when you first meet people and develop a rapport, they tell you their hopes and dreams and what makes them tick? This is a story about one such dream coming true.
I remember our friend Carl’s eyes shining the first time we met him and his lovely wife Rose as he was describing his life-long dream of owning and running a coffee shop. He waxed poetic about coffee beans, how mass-market coffee isn’t java as it is meant to be, how over-roasting takes out flavor, and more. Coffee was a PASSION. Carl and Rose are fun people and we developed a lasting friendship over the past dozen years. You’ve seen them here in the blog; below are a few of the posts.
The last time we saw Carl and Rose pre-COVID was in January 2020, before the pandemic dictated a 16-month separation. We went to the Round Top Chili Cookoff together. That seems like a long, long time ago.
At that time, Carl was still working in the world of international corporations, and still dreaming of coffee. A latecomer to social media, he had finally joined Instagram and his handle was Carl the Roaster. Of course it was. But coffee beans were more than just a dream by this time, as he now had acquired his own roaster, a variety of imported green coffee beans and the knowledge and skills to turn those beans into a great cuppa joe. Home brew!
During that January 2020 visit and before we went to consume copious amounts of chili, Carl roasted several batches for us at his home to different levels (light, medium, dark) to support his point that the darkest roasts can often mask the richest coffee taste. We were skeptical, but convinced when we tried it at home later.
And now, at long last, there’s Neon Moon Coffee. Last November, Carl made his dream a reality with a little brick and mortar shop in Burton, Texas, just a hop, skip and a jump from their bucolic home in Carmine. We are vaccinated and out and about in the world again, so we visited Neon Moon Coffee for the first time a couple of Saturdays ago, wondering as we left US Highway 290 to meander for about a mile on country roads how anyone would find it. It seemed a little off the beaten path, and there weren’t any cars in front. We parked down the road so I could get a good pic… I like the grayness of the morning and how mysterious and interesting the little building looks.
Once inside, we learned quickly that lots and lots of folks find Neon Moon Coffee. It opens at 5:00 a.m. on weekdays for a good reason: commuters heading down 290 to Houston need their jolt of java, and they don’t want it from an overpriced chain. A friendly regular named Ande, who had walked over from his home on the next block as he does almost daily, told us all about it. Then he described the coffee as ‘crack’.
“Carl’s getting everyone in town addicted,” Ande said, stressing the high quality of the brew, but adding that it isn’t just the coffee that keeps him coming back, it’s also the richness of the conversation. “The draw of the place is as much Carl as it is the coffee.”
When he wasn’t serving the steady stream of customers stopping by for their daily dose of liquid energy, Carl showed us around, taking the different bags down from the shelf, showing us the tasting notes, then squeezing them so that we could smell the differences. It was really interesting! One of the ones we bought, Papua New Guinea Simbai, had notes of “dark chocolate, brown sugar, prune and walnut”. The smell was heavenly, the taste, even better.
Carl sells locally made baked goods that complement his coffee, and as we were leaving, we chatted with more happy customers.
Well, everyone was happy but the beautiful dog. She only had eyes for the food, no matter how much her humans tried to get her to pose for me.
If you’re ever in Burton, Texas, nearby Round Top (an antique haven) or just passing through on US 290, consider stopping in at Neon Moon to get a cup of the daily grind or one of the special concoctions, and stick around to have a chat with Carl the Roaster and the Neon Moon devotees. You won’t regret it.
These were our purchases from that first trip to Neon Moon Coffee. Both choices were excellent.
Because we can’t make it out to Burton, Texas every time we run out of coffee, we joined the Neon Moon Coffee Club, which means we’ll get a monthly shipment. Yay!
How to Find Neon Moon Coffee
Now I’m off to make an iced coffee with our Papua New Guinea Simbai coffee from Neon Moon.
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