Brewing for all: Coffee shops across Longview serve community
Jan. 23, 2018 at 10:30 p.m.
When the Bridge 281 Coffee House opened about 10 years ago, it's main purpose was to help reach and serve the Crossroads Community Church.
There's been a renewed focus in recent years, though, on both creating a community gathering place and also just offering good coffee.
"We've kind of evolved — moreso we've critiqued how we make our coffee to make it better in quality to offer that, but we also think it's important for our community to come in and just be with friends, or we have a lot of groups that come in to be with their friends and family," said Korinna Duke, marketing manager.
Bridge 281 is not alone. More and more of Longview's coffee shops have been working to provide quality coffee and welcoming atmospheres in recent years.
Coffee Mill, at 2001 Gilmer Road in North Longview, offers a wide variety of coffee drinks and flavors for its customers, as well as herbal teas, smoothies, frappes, protein shakes and snacks. Coffee drinkers can choose from more than 50 flavor choices, 16 of which are sugar-free, and nine milk options, including five nondairy selections. Each month the coffeehouse features different drinks: December's was "Jingle Bell Java," which tastes like caramelized nuts covered in cinnamon. Other recent featured drinks include "Home for the Holidays," which included cinnamon and hazel, and "Toasted Pumpkin Spice," coffee with house-made pumpkin spice, toasted marshmallow and a splash of cinnamon.
The Arc of Gregg County opened its own coffee shop in 2002 as an extension of its Day Habilitation Program, letting people with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities gain real work experience in all aspects of the business. The coffee shop moved to its current location at Tyler and Center streets in downtown Longview about two years ago, and coffee lovers can find just about anything at the downtown coffee shop that they'd find in the big chain coffee shops — just with better service.
Across the street, at 100 Tyler St., Silver Grizzly Espresso is working to bring quality coffee and craft beer, among other things, to Longview.
"I guess what really got us into this from the get-go was just seeing a need in Longview for a good place for people to connect and just to knit together this community," shop manager and co-owner Connor Walters said.
"Then we're also really passionate about craft goods, whether it's beer, coffee — and a lot of the people that like one of those things oftentimes like the other as well. So we just decided to do both of them in the same spot."
Coffee Mill is generally open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with shortened hours on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Arc of Gregg County Downtown Coffee Shop is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Silver Grizzly Espresso is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, except Sundays.
The Bridge 281 Coffee House, unlike other coffee shops in Longview, purposely keeps its hours to the evening. The coffee shop is open from 6 to 11 each night, except Sundays.
"That kind of helps us know we are catering to people who either want to get together with friends or are working late," Duke said.
At Bridge 281, the menu serves coffee lovers and people who'd prefer something else. The menu offers espresso drinks, black coffee and other drinks, such as lattes. Icelanders, which have no coffee and are rather like milkshakes, are offered, alongside teas and baked goods.
"Really, we cater to both coffee and noncoffee drinkers," Duke said. "So if you don't like coffee, but you like to hang out with your friends, you can go to the Bridge and still get something that doesn't have coffee in it or caffeine."
Like other Longview coffee shops, Silver Grizzly offers traditional coffee and espresso options, as well as different syrups and flavors. The espresso bar, Walters said, is based on a traditional Italian-style menu, but presented in a way that's a bit more accessible for English speakers. Silver Grizzly also offers different pour-over coffees, letting people choose between different roasts, and nine different beers on tap, in addition to teas, hot chocolate and baked goods.
Hospitality is the name of the game at every coffee house, and Walters said that's because coffee houses are rooted in the community. Coffee houses are usually the first place a new resident or an out-of-town visitor stops. Silver Grizzly also wants to keep the wider Longview community connected.
"We really just feel like there's so many amazing people in Longview, but there's this feeling of being so disconnected," he said. "So we wanted to kind of fix that problem. ... Our mission is to offer remarkable hospitality, whether that's through design and atmosphere or the quality of the drink you're getting or the service that you're getting. We want you to feel at home and welcomed, like you belong."