On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Jacob Ibarra joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Tenfold Coffee, his recently opened coffee shop and roastery in The Heights. The Texas A&M alum explains how a trip to Costa Rica after graduation sparked a lifelong love of coffee that took him to Seattle and Melbourne, Australia.
Ibarra's path took him from barista to coffee roasting to traveling the world to purchase coffee. All of those experiences are synthesized at Tenfold, where Ibarra and his team buy, roast, and brew coffees from six countries — Burundi, Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Ethiopia — where Ibarra has established personal relationships with the farmers who grow the beans.
Opening during a pandemic has presented a variety of challenges, but Tenfold has started to build a following. Ibarra credits part of that success to the classes he holds in subjects such as how to brew better coffee at home and how to taste coffee like a professional.
"What's been great is we booked out three months basically from the get-go, and people's responses have been really positive," Ibarra says. "I love it, because it creates a relationship with a certain group of people. I never expected to have such depth. [They start] as a customer then move to that friendship category to them cheering you on now."
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Felice Sloan of Swanky Maven discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to allow restaurants to raise their capacity to 75 percent and the difficult position bars find themselves in; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's partnership with Detroit-based restaurant Lefty's Famous Cheesesteaks, and a new documentary that tells the story of how local influencer Julie Nong (better known as Julie Julez) used the power of social media to support local, Black-owned businesses.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Sloan and Sandler share their first impressions of The Original Hot Dog Factory, the Atlanta-based restaurant that just opened its first franchised location in Houston. Then, they discuss the dim sum offerings at Phat Eatery in Katy.