26 February 2008

A note on espresso

Let's face it. Coffee can be confusing. Everyone knows what coffee is, but far fewer people are familiar with even the most basic details of espresso. Hell, even the word "espresso" is a little disturbing for some people. With that in mind, here are a few basic pointers on what's what in the espresso world. (Expect much more in the future on this subject.)

- Espresso: A concentrated coffee drink brewed by forcing very hot--but not boiling--water under high pressure through finely ground coffee
- Macchiato: Espresso with a dollop of steamed-milk foam on top (contrary to popular belief, a Macchiato is not the thing they make at Starbucks with caramel all over it)
- Cubano: Espresso brewed with unrefined sugar
- Latte: Espresso mixed with steamed milk--light foam
- Cappuccino: Espresso mixed with steamed milke--heavy foam (surprising to many, this is the only difference between an espresso and a latte!)
- Mocha: A latte with chocolate!
- Americano: Very hot--but not boiling--water with espresso on top. Milk is sometimes added
- Caffe au lait: Half brewed coffee, half steamed milk

These are just the basics. As you can see, they're really not as daunting as they seem when you walk into a coffee shop for the first time. More to follow!

[Wikipedia on espresso]
[Coffee Geek]
[Coffee Review]

Happy Mondays

Just a recap of Saturday night: The event was a huge success! Tons of people came out (familiar faces and new friends alike) to check out Kevin Lynch's photos and to hear The Winter Dance Party rock out on the patio. Everyone drank cheap beer, rocked out, and generally had a great time.

Some internal scoop: We had our first employee meeting last night, and I think it was pretty successful. I think these meetings are not only a good way to get out a general "state of the union," but a way that all of us can spend time together at once, instead of just seeing each other when we work. Next stop: karaoke party?

Oh! One piece of news for you dedicated followers: Our website is being designed and should be ready soon. It will of course be at thunderbirdcoffee.com--but don't expect much until we announce its launch. Yahoo!

23 February 2008


Tonight! The Winter Dance Party is playing in the store. Bring your friends and come drink our $1 Lone Star drafts, $5 Lone Star pitchers, and $.50 espresso shots (from 7-10 p.m.). We're showcasing Kevin P. Lynch's photographs, who will be here to answer every annoying question you have about taking pictures. Buy him a beer, won't you?

Also, we attended the grand openings of Black and Tan and Orchid Dance Bar on 7th Street last night. The bars look great, everyone had fun, and DJ Mel rocked our asses off on the turntables. Check out the links to the right for more info about each place.

We also checked out The Black's performance at Lamberts Barbecue last night. As usual, they were great. They'll be playing in Marfa, Texas tonight, so if you're in the area, be sure to check them out. I should also mention that Lamberts is a really cool place to hang out. I didn't get to sample their barbecue, but it smelled incredible, and the vibe there is fantastic. They also have a ton of great beers on tap (Chimay, Guinness, etc.). I mean, it's no Thunderbird, but it's still really cool.

22 February 2008

The Black playing tonight

Those sexy boys The Black are playing tonight in Austin at Lamberts Barbecue. I don't know an exact time, but I'd ballpark it at around 10:00 p.m. Check them out tonight, because this is their tour kickoff show, and they wont' be around for a couple of weeks.

What will you do after that? Walk a few blocks north to check out the grand opening of Black and Tan, the coolest new hangout downtown. The Thunderbird people will be the exceptionally beautiful ones hanging out by the (super awesome) jukebox.

General stuff

What's the haps? Here's what's new with us:

- Thunderbird just got Shiner Black, which we're excited about.
- We also hired a few new baristas! Great people with great attitudes, all three of them. Say hi to Elizabeth, Ida, or Katrina next time you're in.
- A few of us got together tonight and checked out the Obama/Hillary debate which was hosted by UT Austin. (Unfortunately, none of us were invited to the actual event.)

Just a quick reminder: The Winter Dance Party is playing on Saturday night at the art party celebrating Kevin Lynch's photography. Check out the photos at www.shatteredshutter.com.

19 February 2008

Kevin Lynch photography

As I mentioned below, Kevin Lynch is this month's featured artist, and a party celebrating his work is this Saturday. Here are a few selections from his website that will give you an idea about his work.

On another note, I'm proud to say that Thunderbird is one of the few locally owned joints around town that feature art that doesn't suck, and I think Kevin's photographs highlight that nicely.

Amazing party this Saturday

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!

This Saturday, February 23, Thunderbird is having an art party! We'll have music from The Winter Dance Party, beer, wine, and amazing photographs on display by Kevin Lynch. The band starts at 8 and will play until 10 p.m.

Give us a shout if you need any more info!

Fidel resigns

Fidel Castro resigned as president of Cuba today. The significance of this event should not be underestimated. Although some feel that Fidel's resignation is no big change--Cuba has been unofficially led by Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, for several years now--I wonder if we won't see some noticeable changes starting now, but especially after Castro's impending death. At the very least, this is a huge symbolic shift. I won't get into political stuff on this blog--there are any number of places where that can be discussed--but I will speculate the following:

What could a Castro-free Cuba look like?

- Real Cuban sugar in Thunderbird's Cubano coffees
- Real Cuban cigars (smoked only outside on our patio, of course)
- Spring Break trips to Cuba, just like in the '50s
- 24-hour Buena Vista Social Club marathon concerts all over America

Sounds pretty good to me. Viva!

17 February 2008


A minute ago, a guy asked the name of the band that was playing. We had the Rolling Stones playing, so I said "The Rolling Stones!" He of course meant the band that was playing outside, but the mistake got us talking. What would the Stones drink if they came in? We made these guesses:

Keith: Dark roast with two shots of espresso (Naturally.)
Mick: Single cappucino ("I don't like too much milk. It bad for me throat.")
Charlie Watts: Sugar-free vanilla cappucino
Ronnie Wood: Horchata latte (hot) ("Wots that? Yeh, gimme one o dem.")

Austin Marathon!

The Austin Marathon is today! The race passes right in front of Thunderbird, and we're lucky enough to be a spot where volunteers pass out water, and spectators cheer for the runners. We've also got a live band playing out front, beautiful weather, and a bunch of attractive baristas. See you here!

16 February 2008

St. Bridget's

St. Bridget's porter is just one of our many great bottled beers. It's made by Great Divide Brewing Co., based out of the Rocky Mountain region. They say that St. Bridget's is named after an Irish saint who "created a sensation by turning her bathwater into beer." We're not sure about that (the Wikipedia entry, at least, has nothing to say about the miracle), but we do agree that it's a nice dark beer.
St. Bridget’s is a smooth and elegant brown porter. Brimming with coffee and chocolate characteristics from dark barley malts, St. Bridget’s is carefully hopped to provide the perfect complement to its malty robustness. This beer is a “must have” beer for all porter lovers.

For only $3.50, you can't do much better for a porter like this.

We're hiring!

That's right. Thunderbird Coffee is looking for a barista!

We interviewed a few well-qualified candidates today, and there's more coming in tomorrow (Sunday). But if you're a smart dude or dudette with a great attitude and a love for all things coffee, please shoot us an e-mail, comment on the blog, or just come in and drop off a copy of your resume/work experience.



We've gotten some great feedback on the horchata latte today! A lot of people have noticed a toasted-marshmallow flavor, especially with the hot version. A nice warm drink for a day as gross as today.

14 February 2008

New coffee!

We have a new roast! It's the Organic Mexican from Little City Roasters, and it's delicious. It's our lightest roast, with a full flavor and a nice crisp finish. You'll definitely want to check this one out.

13 February 2008

La Marzocco

At Thunderbird, we use a La Marzocco espresso machine, the same kind used in the World Barista Championships. The machines are handmade in Florence, Italy--which is only part of the reason they're so expensive. The other reason is that they're incredible pieces of machinery. Coffeekid.com lists a couple of reasons why they're so great here.

One thing most people will mention about the La Marzocco is that it has two boilers. This means that it has a boiler dedicated to steam and another one dedicated to brewing--which means that the espresso always has water of the correct temperature available, and the milk will always be steamed at a consistent temperature.

So that's why your coffee tastes so good!

More info:

La Marzocco on Wikipedia

Not ours, but the same model.

New drink

A new drink is on its way!

The full name is the Jesus Maria Horchata Latte, and its ingredients are espresso and fresh Horchata from the delicious and affordable Mexican cafe Jesus Maria, right across the street from us on Koenig. It comes both hot and iced (I personally prefer the iced), and in 12 oz., 16 oz., and 20 oz. sizes.

It'll be ready this week, and we'll be happy to offer a free small one to those who mention this blog through the month of February.

If you've never had Horchata before, you're missing out. It's a rice-based milky-colored beverage with no dairy. Here's a typical recipe found on the Internets.

(Disclaimer: The image above isn't our Horchata, it's just one I found online.)

Our roots

A couple people have asked me where the name Thunderbird came from. Here's the answer:

Thunderbird before (click image for larger size)

Hot deals

Some ongoing promotions Thunderbird offers:

The daily Hour(s) of Power: $1 Lone Star pints, $5 Lone Star pitchers, and $.50 espresso shots

10% off for all McCallum High School students

Your thoughts

Thunderbird is always interested in hearing what you have to say. We do our best to make great snacks and coffee in a comfortable environment, and we're proud of what we do. If you have a suggestion on how to make things better, please feel free to let us know via our MySpace, e-mail, our comment box, or through a comment on this blog.

Ryan pours another perfect latte

Here's super-barista Ryan Hall pouring a great-looking latte at Thunderbird. If only we could all do it this well.

Thunderbird begins

I’m sure I’m not the first to try to get something like this started for Thunderbird, but I think it’s about time we had a bit more of a web presence. Look here for info about specials, events, and news on the store. Thanks for checking us out!