Even though there are dozens of coffee shops in the Tyler area, coffee shops continue to pop up. Whether it’s a quick cup of Joe at a major franchise company or a multi-hour latte study session at a local coffee shop, Tylerites can’t seem to get enough.
As coffee continues to gain popularity and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, coffee is not only fueling the individual, but also fueling the economy, according to Scott Martinez, President and CEO of the Tyler Economic Development Council.
“The increase in coffee shops largely reflects the growth of Tyler’s entire economy. Last year, Tyler (agglomeration) outperformed all other Texas metropolitan areas in terms of job growth,” he said. “Over 8,000 direct jobs were created in our area last year, and this year has seen significant growth as well.”
“This year we have seen new Starbucks stores and other national brands such as Dutch Bros and 7Brew entering the market. We are also seeing growth in tea shops such as NobiliTea and HTeaO,” Martinez continued. “We have several local coffee shops that complement the local coffee scene, like 1948, The Foundry and Brady’s, which have loyal fans and great drinks.”
And these are just a few of the more than 30 coffee shops in the city, and things keep brewing as more coffee shops open soon.
So what is it about the Pink City that makes it a hotbed of coffee shops?
Aaron Harris, vice president of development at Dutch Bros Coffee, which had three locations planned before starting construction earlier this year, said there are several factors to consider when selecting locations.
“Our real estate and development team has several different factors that they use to determine how many and where stores will be,” he said. “Our teams are looking for thriving and welcoming communities. Tyler is a big city with room for a few Dutch brothers and an incredibly welcoming community. The city has all the factors that our teams are looking for.”
Martinez said Tyler has a strong community that has benefited from the growth of the business.
“It added jobs and a new tax base to the local economy, which is always a good thing,” he said. “We have a strong economy and Tyler is a regional employment, health and education hub.”
Erin Emmert, manager of Brady’s Coffee, which opened in 1996, says the increase in Tyler stores seems overwhelming.
“It can be overwhelming if we think about it too long,” she said. “It seems like a new store opens every week, and for a city the size of Tyler, it seems unnecessary to have as many coffee shops as we do.”
Emmert explained that even the terminology in different coffee shops can be different.
“Coffee terminology also seems to change from store to store. For example, at Brady’s we are very traditional when it comes to drinks, and we stick to more traditional definitions of coffee,” she said. “The biggest difference we see is the macchiato order.
“Traditionally speaking, an Italian macchiato is two shots of espresso, 2 ounces and a small blob of foam on top, making the whole drink less than 3 ounces. Starbucks and other large corporate coffee companies have conditioned the consumer to expect something more like caramel macchiato, which is a drink created by Starbucks. It’s a generic flavored latte, but with a little creative marketing, they’ve changed the purist definition to suit what they prefer to serve.”
“Corporate coffee shops opening now tend to follow this trend and various other definitions, and this is affecting our business and other stores that are more focused on traditional coffee drinks,” Emmert added.
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However, Emmert said Brady’s, a third-generation serving family restaurant that opened before the first Starbucks opened in Tyler, continues to thrive thanks to its loyal customers.
“The good news is that the flow of customers does not affect us, remaining regular customers of our store,” she said. “Brady’s coffee shop is a mystery. It has been open for almost 27 years with no marketing or advertising, and has operated largely based on word of mouth or chance encounters.”
In fact, the business is not even represented on social media.
Emmert said that she thinks another aspect of the store’s popularity is its authenticity of the craft.
“In most conventional coffee shops that run fast and fast, you lose the aspect of the craft,” she said. “The title of barista means nothing anymore if all you have to do is press a button on an automatic machine that, without skill, can serve shots of espresso and froth milk.”
Emmert said she believes the “hometown” aspect really matters.
“We are as hometown as it gets. We believe in treating people with kindness and respect, and we do not tolerate rude behavior. We believe that we are all equal and within the four walls of our store, we will treat each other accordingly,” she said. “I think that’s the kind of atmosphere that brings people back and keeps them coming here for years and years.”
Studies show that people just really like coffee.
The coffee business, from family shops to large corporations, shows no signs of slowing down.
The National Coffee Association said the number of coffee drinkers who say their financial situation is worse than it was four months ago has increased by 59% since January, and six in 10 people now say they are careful about their spending habits.
Despite this, total coffee consumption over the past day (66% of Americans over 18) remains at its highest level in two decades, first reached in January 2022. Coffee is more popular than any other drink, including tap water, and is most popular in the Northeast, where 72% of adults drank coffee in the last day.
According to a 2015 study by the National Coffee Association, American consumers spent $74.2 billion on coffee, and the industry generated 1,694,710 jobs in the US economy.
National Coffee Association President and CEO William Murray said following the September 2022 National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report that the drink continues to dominate America.
“Continuing its long reign as America’s favorite drink, coffee is also reaching new heights among young people,” he said. “NCDT’s latest snapshot of consumer behavior and attitudes confirms both coffee’s popularity and its resilience as coffee drinkers continue to navigate challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty.”
There are more than 30 coffee shops in Tyler and Smith County, with more to open soon, according to the City of Tyler.