Alongside friend Bradley Vaught, the University of Texas student is putting Austin coffee roasting on the map.
Interviewed by Jackson Peoples, University of Texas at Austin
Photograph by Marshall Tidrick, University of Texas at Austin
Soup Martinez is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, an aspiring author and a reluctant coffee snob who recently decided to delve deeper into the coffee supply chain.
Along with his friend and aspiring musician Bradley Vaught, Soup started a specialty roasting company in Austin called Neighbor Coffee.
Roasting coffee is really boring. You sit there for hours at a time watching the timer, watching how hot the coffee is, making sure you pull it at the right time. And it’s just that, on repeat for hour and hours and hours.
Any time could be a bad time. You know you can always make an excuse.
Coffee is such an easy example. The beans for this drink, which was made right in front of me at this coffee shop, were made by a completely different set of hands at this roastery, which got those beans from halfway across the world at this farm, where it was touched by a dozen different hands there. That, for me as an English major, is the first draw toward coffee.
It hurts me to see people just basically dump coffee into this pile of milk and sugar, because I’m thinking, ‘There’s so much going on in there, you’re missing out.’
There are markets like Portland and Seattle that are just saturated. Everybody roasts. Up in the Northeast too, it’s really similar. In Austin though, people don’t really roast.
Lets just invest in ourselves. I believe in myself. Bradley believes in himself. We believe in each other. Screw it.
We realized: This has to sell and this makes no sense. We live in Austin, there’s no mountains here, there’s no glaciers. So we’re just sitting there looking at our logo, thinking, ‘We just dug ourselves a hole before we even started. How can we sell this?’ Then we just said, ‘Let’s make it Neighbor Coffee.’”
I didn’t enjoy coffee until I was seventeen years old. I used to get coffee with one of my teachers every week, and we went to this place where they served it in a pot that had been sitting there all morning. It wasn’t good, so we loaded it with cream and sugar. Slowly, as we met every week, I added less cream, less sugar, until I was drinking this crappy coffee black.
Our coffee is good, and I’m proud of it. If I owned a coffee shop in Austin, I would be proud to serve our coffee.