The road to national expansion for a Portland-based coffee company runs through Westchase District. Black Rock Coffee Bar opened in mid-November at 2620 W Sam Houston Pkwy S.
Black Rock Coffee’s foray into the Southwest area began in Tony Lujan’s hometown of Phoenix. “We boomed out there and are now at 17 stores,” said Lujan, Black Rock’s co-regional manager of Texas. “Success in Arizona made Texas a natural next step, giving us a huge impetus to expand in Houston.”
The company then embedded Lujan in Texas to open the market’s first stores in Austin and now Houston. “Obviously, there are a lot of Starbucks everywhere,” said Lujan. “In Portland, there are numerous one offs and mom and pop cafes. We saw this area, and region, as lacking a coffee product like ours. We felt like the coffee community needed help in Texas.”
North by Southwest
The café’s interior is designed with space in mind to enliven the gathering experience around enjoying coffee. Lujan says the Westchase District coffee bar’s features are unique compared to its other Houston stores. The coffee bar’s ambience mirrors what coffee drinkers would experience in Portland. “This location really represents Black Rock Coffee for what we are,” noted Lujan. “All of our Northwest locations look like this store such as our reclaimed mushroom wood with bright red accents, the neon we use, and the wood furniture is made in the Northwest. Whether you walk through a Black Rock Coffee in Vancouver, WA, or this location, it will feel the same.”
The Black Rock Coffee difference
“Our product stands by itself,” said Lujan. “It is an amazing product that’s been voted one of the top coffees in Oregon which is a testament because there’s such a devout coffee culture up there. But our experience is what seals the deal for our customers. We really have a community focus and want everybody to come in and feel like a family in our small coffee shop.”
Amy Anderson, Black Rock’s director of community outreach, said Westchase was an attractive location for its second Houston area store opening. “We were attracted to the Westchase area because of the growth in the area and our other stores in Texas have embraced Black Rock Coffee. We look forward to being in Westchase and serving the community.”
Fuel for all
Black Rock Coffee’s mantra is illuminated on a neon red sign above a leather sofa which reads ‘Fuel Your Story’. The menu includes hot or iced coffee in premium and classic brews. It’s ‘coffeeless’ items are also served hot or iced, including hot chocolate, hot tea, chai tea latte and shaken iced tea. Some of its chilled items are blended with mint chip and chocolate chip. Energy drinks come in smoothies. You can buy ground coffee, thermos tumblers, and baseball caps. In addition, this location serves muffins, breakfast tacos and scones. For motorists, the bar’s drive-thru is easily accessible from the West Sam Houston Tollway via the Westheimer Road exit. For residents or travelers, it’s steps away from Folio West Apartments, Fairfield Inn and Homewood Suites.
Word about Black Rock’s opening reached college student Jada Dotson and two of her friends via social media. With their laptops ready, the trio was ready to start a study session made more enjoyable with the lively aroma of coffee and music in the air.
“I like trying new coffee places,” said Dotson, who enjoys sweet, creamy drinks so ordering a Frappuccino with a shot of espresso was a must. “I got the chocolate chip chiller. It has a kick and I’ve never had anything this bold before. It tastes amazing.”
That’s music to Lujan’s ears, as much as Dotson’s impression of the bar’s vibe. “It doesn’t feel generic. The lighting and the structure create a calming vibe where I feel like I could get a lot of work done.” She and her classmates chose the right place. Black Rock Coffee is here to fuel their feeling.