The Prospector

New cafe strives to empower coffee dialogue in El Paso

Michaela Roman, Contributor

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In recent years, El Paso’s spectrum of bars, breweries and assorted night-life has grown and developed something for everyone. With this rise, coffee shops with a different take on the coffee experience are emerging.

Arleen Mendez, a former El Paso middle and high school teacher, founded Bean Type Coffee Roasters, the first organic and fair-trade coffee roasters to hit the border.

In 2015, Mendez took a trip to Seattle that changed her perspective on coffee.

“I started doing some research and talked to different people, and it turns out that coffee is just like any other food,” Mendez said. “It depends on quality ingredients first and then how you prepare it.”

Mendez pursued her new-found curiosity when she returned home and taught herself how to roast coffee, brew lattes and create latte art.

In February 2016, she began selling coffee beans at the Downtown Art and Farmers Market. After a few months, she started brewing the coffee.

The Farmers Market offers an outlet for local organic and vegan vendors, and Mendez says there’s been a great response from the community.

She is now taking her farmers market business to Socorro and opening Bean Type Café in October on the Socorro Mission Trail.

Mendez has now fully immersed herself in the world of coffee, and roasting has become her forte.

“A lot of people roast with commercial machines where they just kind of push buttons, but I’m actually really in there, and I know what’s happening to the bean,” Mendez said.

She’s also learned to brew using various methods.  She has learned temperature, time, grind size, pressure, agitation and how they all affect the brew.

Mendez makes sure the coffee she sells is organic because then she knows pesticides aren’t hurting the female farmers.

“When you buy cheap coffee, you’re not buying cheap coffee because it’s cheap, you’re buying it because it was cheaply made,” Mendez said.

Bean Type Coffee Roasters also makes sure their coffee is fair trade. Mendez explained it’s not uncommon for coffee farmers in other countries to be promised a barely living wage that is sometimes never paid. She’s worked with Boston activist Dean Cycon for the stores’ coffee beans.

“With fair trade coffee, the supplier goes into communities and kind of turns them around,” Mendez said. “He learns the language and makes sure they become really viable. He’s taught them how to make specialty coffee. So their coffee tastes better.”

Mendez also wants people to learn how to brew their own coffee from home.

“I’ve had to lure people in by making delicious drinks like pumpkin spice iced lattes. I lured them in with that, and I can’t with a cafe Americano,” Mendez said.

Bean Type offers free classes that are open to the public for those interested in learning the coffee experience by starting El Paso Coffee Meetup.

“We kind of wanted to encourage the coffee dialogue because everybody drinks coffee, but it feels like not everybody thinks they are allowed to talk about it,” Mendez said. 

 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Wu8aZt4gmY[/embedyt]

 

At one meetup, Bean Type, partnered with VeloPaso, a bicycle and pedestrian coalition, and rode bikes from local coffee staples including Kinley’s, Coffee Box and Monarch Bar to sample different coffee and talk about it.

At another meetup, they hiked. Afterwards, they learned how to use a French press that can be taken on hikes.

Some meetups are more laid back. At the most recent game brunch, attendees bonded over Cards Against Humanity and Peruvian coffee. They sampled the same Peruvian bean, but in different roasts.

Mendez says everyone has a different taste and wants something different. She wants people to learn how to make their own coffee and also understand where it comes from.

“You can make delicious drinks that taste good and are healthy and good for you and won’t give you some kind of illness later on down the road,” Mendez explained.

The benefits of learning to roast and brew your own coffee allow you to have specialty drinks at a reasonable price.

Mendez said you can end up spending $7 at a store on a cup at coffee when at home it can come out to $1 per drink.

Bean Type Cafe opens Oct. 1 on International Coffee Day. They can be found at the farmer’s market every Saturday and the East Side Artist and Farmers market every other Sunday.

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New cafe strives to empower coffee dialogue in El Paso