22 November 2010

Our first-ever chili cookoff was a great success!

Thank you so much to our business sponsors Beauty Bar Austin, Phara's Mediterranean Restaurant, and Bird's Barbershop.

Thank you also to our awesome judges, Megan Meyers, Laurie Gallardo, and Jason Reece. Thanks also to DJ Benzo, who played an awesome set for us on a lovely day. And thanks to everyone who came out!

06 November 2010

Thunderbird's First Ever Chili Cookoff!

It's coming! Thunderbird Coffee's first ever chili cookoff. November 20, 2 p.m. Here's everything you need to know:


1. You should make one batch of chili, no more than two gallons.
2. You will not need to cook at the event. You should bring a crock pot.
3. Official tasting and judging will begin at 3:30 p.m. Our celebrity judges will work together to determine winners of each category: Spiciest, Vegan, Most Creative, and Best Overall.
4. If you have a table and/or a tent, we advise you to bring it with you. We do have tables, but space is not guaranteed.
5. You may use the "filler" of your choice (rice, noodles, etc.)
6. Be prepared to provide samples of your chili to spectators after judges have tasted all chili.

Entertainment provided by DJ Hobo D!

Prizes by business sponsors TBD.

TO ENTER contact Emma at emma.blauer (at) gmail.com or thunderbirdcoffees (at) gmail.com

15 September 2010

Comment card time

Recent comment from Joel U. from the question "What could we do better?"

"I tried hard to think of something you could do better but after 5 minutes I decided to drink my coffee."

Love it, haha. Thanks, Joel! There's a free drink coming to you in the mail as we speak.

31 August 2010

Manor's art for September: Loteria posters by Chepo Pena

I can't wait for this. Sunday, September 5, will be the official opening of Chepo Pena's loteria poster art at Thunderbird on Manor. The opening will features $2 Mexican beers (Tecate, Dos XX, Pacifico), and that most amazing band Karaoke Apocolypse ("They play it, you sing it!"). Be there!

30 August 2010

This month's $250 gift certificate winner!

This month's winner is Amanda Thomas. She's a Sagittarius, which according to the Internet means that she is optimistic and intelligent. She's a graphic design Master's student at Texas State University, and has left the big city life of Austin for the sanguine life of San Marcos--for now. Check out her design work here. Her favorite food is corn, her favorite animal is the zebra, and she loves big band music. Even though I made that last sentence up, I hope we'll be seeing a lot of her with her winnings. Photo by the talented and prolific Alison Narro.

26 August 2010

Beer spotlight: Sierra Nevada Tumbler

We're a big fan of Sierra Nevada Pale (who isn't?), so when we found out about the SN brown ale, the Tumbler, we had to check it out.

Appearance: Pours thick tan/khaki head. Dark brown color with some red highlights.

Flavor: Smooth and malty! Chocolate and fruit notes. Medium to medium-low bitterness. Not real hoppy.

Overall this is a great beer! Balanced and easy to drink more than one.

24 August 2010

I was driving to Houston a couple months ago and turned on Weezer's Pinkerton. I hadn't listened to the full album in a while. This is one of those albums that takes me back to the age I was when I first absorbed it--in this case it was 1996, and I was 15 years old. I listened to this album every day for roughly two years. It only took me a few songs to come up with the idea of a Pinkerton hoot night; 15-year-old me was peeing my pants.

Giant Steps got a hold of some of the best bands in Austin to play the entire album (plus a few other songs, b-sides and such) on September 9th, and I hope you'll come and bring your friends.

Oh--this is kinda funny: We tried to come up with a drink special fitting of the band and the album. It turns out that a friend of Giant Steps is a guitar tech for Weezer right now, and we asked him what they drink. "Coors Light," he told us. Well, we don't serve Coors Light, but we will have $1 Tecates on hand. See you there.

22 August 2010

Our very own Ryan Hall, in a preview of Alison Narro's photography of our staff.

30 July 2010

Now Brewing . . .

As of today, November 8, 2010, Thunderbird is brewing the following coffees in either our Single-Cup bar, our espresso drinks, or French press coffee. Keep this page bookmarked for updates!

- Intelligentsia Coffee Roasting Company: Yirgacheffe Dama (Ethiopia)

- Intelligentsia Coffee Roasting Company: Kirezi (Rwanda)

- Cuvee Coffee Roasting Company: Mezzanote Midnight Blend

- Cuvee Coffee Roasting Company: Meritage espresso

27 July 2010

New website launch and art opening this Sunday!

Music from DJ Hobo D, $2 Dos XX pints, Pacifico bottles, and Negra Modelo bottles! New art from Lydia Reynolds, and a celebration of our new website designed by Lydia Reynolds and featuring the photography of Alison Narro. Wooo!

01 July 2010

This month's $250 GC winner!

This month's winner of our monthly $250 gift certificate giveaway is Autumn Ewalt! Autumn is an artist and general troublemaker here in Austin. She specializes in sculpture and mixed media, and she has her Master's from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She likes iced lattes in the summer and hot lattes in the winter, and she always loves playing the ukelele. She's a Libra, she loves Neil Young, and she's living the swinging single life! What a catch!

This month's photo was taken by the lovely and talented Alison Narro. View her amazing work at alisonnarro.com, and then go out and buy her your choice of either puppies, ice cream, laser beams, or a giraffe.

07 June 2010

Daily Beer Specials at T-Bird Koenig

Here they are, folks. Come out for our growing and ever-changing beer selection at both locations!

06 June 2010

Featured beer: Brooklyn Summer Ale

Our featured beer this week at both locations is the Brooklyn Lager Summer Ale. It's a light, crisp beer--perfect for sipping on a patio. It comes off with a light citrusy flavor and a tiny floral aroma--a very drinkable beer.

T-bird named "Best Coffee Shop" by Rare readers

It's true! The just-released "Rarest of them all" issue lists Thunderbird as the best coffee shop in Austin. Thanks much to Rare readers, Alison Narro for photographing, and coffee lovers everywhere.

18 May 2010

Day two, part two

After stopping by food-truckopolis I rested for a while and then headed out in search of Portland's other claim to fame: beer.

First stop was Bailey's Taproom. With 20 rotating taps and plenty more in bottles, I knew I was going to try something new. This was a cool place with a modern atmosphere and a very helpful bartender.

One of my favorite things about this place is that they served beers (mostly) in two sizes: 10 oz. and 20 oz. The smaller sizes allowed me to try a few different beers without getting super hammered. Here's what I tried:

Golden Valley Black Panther Imperial Stout (McMinnville, OR). Not sure if it's the same thing as this video shows, but it was really good:

Cascade Lakes Riverside Red (Redmond, OR):

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild (Petaluma, CA). A new release from Lagunitas. I liked it:

Fort George Working Girl Coffee Porter (Astoria, OR):

Tugboat Brewing Company brewpub in downtown Portland was up next. (It's actually right next door to Bailey's.) Really comfy space, friendly bartender, and the menu looked pretty good. Since it was Monday they were doing "Cheers Monday" where if you cheered for everyone who entered and booed everyone who left you would get a free beer (at some point, I got booed before getting a free beer).

Think this one was called the Golden Ale:

Tugboat's (13%) Chernobyl Stout:

All in all a good evening of beer drinking, still back to the hotel early enough to, well, go to sleep. Day three's all about coffee, coffee, and more coffee. Northwest Coffee House, another Stumptown location, and plenty more coming next.

T-bird does Portland, Day Two

The two-hour time difference here had me awake pretty early. I started off with a great 8 oz. Americano downstairs at the in-house Stumptown along with an amazing bacon-cheese biscuit. Wherever they're getting their pastries from (I think it's Nuvrei) is doing a killer job.

From there I went over to Billy Wilson's Barista, a heavy-hitter here in Portland. It's a great-looking shop, and they're doing it right. Check it out:

That's right, they've got three espressos on. I don't think any of them were decaf. I tried a Coava single origin, and it really hit me with some nice apple and chocolate flavors. I'm planning on checking out the recently opened Barista II on day three or four.

From there I went over to Sip & Kranz, a coffee and wine bar also in the Pearl District. I went ahead and had another double shot of Stumptown's Hair Bender (might as well have as much as I can while I'm here). They had a couple of beers on tap and in bottle as well as a couple of wines, so I asked the barista if they did a lot of beer and wine business. She looked a little dismayed as she told me that she felt like people didn't really know they were open in the evenings, so it wasn't a huge part of their business as of now. Here's Sip & Kranz:

The obvious thing to me here is that while this place is spacious and charming, it feels like a cafe or coffee shop, not a place to drink beer and wine. One of the main things that I find is a struggle with shops who want to do both beer and coffee is that they usually do one with full force and the other almost as an afterthought.

Which brings me to Blitz. I might have just passed Blitz by if it weren't for the giant Gimme! Coffee sign out front. I walked up to the bar and chatted with the bartender/barista and found that they also serve Doma Coffee, which is a roaster out of Idaho. I had a double shot of the Doma (very smooth!) and a pint of the Mack and Jack's African Amber. I hadn't had the African Amber before, but it was a nice beer, with a citrusy sweetness and good mouthfeel.

It's definitely worth noting that while Sip & Kranz was definitely more of a cafe that served beer and wine, Blitz is definitely a bar that also serves coffee. Props to the owners for getting me in the door and for putting a little effort into their coffee. (I also thought it was cool that they went out of their way to serve Doma and Gimme! given that everyone else in town serves Stumptown.)


Now it's lunch time. If you haven't heard about the giant square of food trucks in the Pearl District, it's definitely worth noting. It's basically just that: A few dozen different food trailers that line the perimeter of a city parking lot. This place was swarming with people during Monday's lunch. Greek, Vietnamese, Korean, Polish, burgers, sandwiches, coffee, yogurt, pretty much everything you could ask for. It's like the South Congress trailer area on steroids. I got an amazing gyro and ravenously ate it while sitting on the curb.

There's plenty more for day two, but I'll go ahead and break this post up into two parts, especially since the rest of the day mostly involves drinking beer at some of Portland's coolest brewpubs.

17 May 2010

T-bird does Portland, Day One

Day one couldn't have been better. I'm staying in the Ace Hotel on Southwest Stark Street in Portland's Pearl District. If you've ever been to Hotel San Jose in Austin or the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, you'll have an idea of what this is like: modern, minimalist design, unique feel, very cool environment.

I started my trip with a visit right next door: the Stumptown Coffee Roasters that adjoins Ace. Check it out.

Had a really nice espresso there. After that, headed right next door to Kenny and Zuke's Deli for a local beer (can't remember which one) and a great Ruben.

From there I wandered around the city a little. I'll tell you, I picked a good spot in the Pearl District. Here's a view from the street:

Everything is here: Cafes, coffee shops, bars, movie theaters--and of course, Powell's Books. I stopped in that evening and it turns out that comic-book legend Dan Clowes was speaking and signing copies of his new book, Wilson. Clowes is a funny and interesting guy, and had some cool stuff to say about his work and comics today.

After that I ran into another coffee shop I wasn't familiar with, Public Domain. Turns out that there's a good reason I hadn't heard of it: It opened up about five weeks ago. Beautiful place:

Had a very tasty espresso here as well. Will definitely return before leaving.

Tomorrow I'm planning to hit up Barista, Sip and Kranz, another Stumptown location, and the Deschutes Public House Brewery. All in a day's work. If you know any great spots in Portland I should check out, please let me know in the comments section or via our Twitter account.

05 May 2010


Thunderbird wants to make a correction to our previous post. We were a little rushed and spoke out of turn. Of course Medici has been making individual press pots for years, so has JP's Java. Frank has been brewing single cups of Intelligentsia to order since they opened last year. We salute these pioneers of coffee and are pleased to follow in their footsteps. We sincerely regret the error.

We are also proud, however, to truly be the first coffee bar in Austin (to our knowledge) to use multiple roasters and single-cup brewing methods.

29 April 2010

Single-cup bar coming this weekend!

We're very excited to announce a new development here at the Bird: Our brand-new single-cup coffee bar. You'll notice some sawdust over the next day or so, but starting this Saturday we'll be serving up some INCREDIBLE new coffees from roasters all over the country. Here's some of what's on the list:

- Intelligentsia Colombia Escuela Vieja
- Counter Culture Ethiopia Michicha Sundried
- Cuvee Peru Chachuda Microlot

What does "single cup" mean? It means that there's a range of brewing methods that bring out the subtleties and complex flavors of these great coffees--all made individually for YOU. These brewing methods include Aeropress, Syphon, Chemex, pourover, and individual French presses. There's so much to say about each brewing method--and there will be plenty more information to come--but we encourage you to try them all, and ask questions when you're in the store!

Beer spotlight: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Dogfish Head Off-Centered Film Festival here in Austin. Got to try some great beers, watched some "off-centered" movies, and got to hear a little from Dogfish Head founder Sam Calgione. Great times--and boy was I glad that we had a DD.

As a result, this week's featured beer is the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. The 60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped--more than 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil (getting a vibe yet of where the name came from?). 60 Minute is a session India Pale Ale brewed with a slew of great NorthWest hops. It's a powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character. The session beer for hardcore beer enthusiasts! A video here tells a more detailed story.

22 April 2010

Clifford Allen: This month's $250 Gift Card Winner!

This month's winner of our $250 gift certificate giveaway is Clifford Allen! Clifford is a connoisseur of all things relating to jazz and improvised music. He write for All About Jazz, Signal to Noise, and Paris Transatlantic among other publications. He's originally from Topeka, KS (Wave the Wheat!) but lives here in the T-bird Manor 'hood now. His favorite drink at Tbird is a double short Americano. Clifford is a long-time T-bird fan, and we're all thrilled that he's this month's winner! Sign up today, YOU could be next!

This month's photo was taken by Samantha White! Sam is a freelance photographer here in Austin. She specializes in photos of pretty much everything, and she's a great person to work with. Her website is samanthajanay.blogspot.com.

31 March 2010

Chachuda Microlot!

We're very proud to announce the arrival of a new coffee: The Chachuda Microlot from high in the Peruvian Andes. This very special coffee is a true labor of love and available only for a limited time. Starting this weekend we'll be serving 12 OZ press pots for $3.19 from 9 AM to 12 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The Chachuda has a sweet-toned aroma with notes of toast, aromatic wood, nut and mild fruitiness. The fruit becomes more pronounced in the cup, developing into stone fruit, along with continued sweetness and hints of chocolate and aromatic wood.

What else is so special about it? The trading practice with this coffee is especially worth mentioning. It's well-known that T-bird is committed to only buying direct-trade coffee, and we're particularly proud of how Cuvee purchases this coffee.
The money going to the two growers who cultivate the Chachuda recieve 237% more money directly than the fair-trade minimum! It's just one more reason we're so proud to serve the this coffee. Come try some this weekend! (Feel free to ask for more details!)

18 February 2010

Welcome, Counter Culture!

We're very proud to announce that we are currently brewing Counter Culture's single-origin Teka from Muramvya, Burundi, at Thunderbird Koenig. What's so special about this? Plenty. Based out of Durham, North Carolina, Counter Culture is one of the pioneers of direct-trade coffee in the United States, and T-bird is the first shop in Austin to deliver their incredible coffees to you. It's DELICIOUS and it's available now in French press and to take home by the bag. There's plenty more information HERE. We're committed to carrying the best coffees from all over the world, traded sustainably and roasted by the only the best. Stay on the lookout for more new coffees!

What does this mean for the fantastic coffees we've been serving from Cuvee? Never fear. We will continue to carry a range of Cuvee's sustainably traded and world-class coffees. However, our search for different coffees, different roasters, and new and amazing flavors never ends. This is only the beginning. Cheers.

13 January 2010

Direct Trade Coffee

Picture stolen from Cuvee's Flickr.

Note: This is an introduction to what I hope will be several essays about direct-trade coffee.

Thunderbird is committed to using only direct-trade coffee of the highest quality. Phrases like "fair trade," "direct trade," "farm trade," and "direct relationship coffee" have a lot of power, and they're often thrown around to give the roaster or coffee shop legitimacy. But what do they really mean? How can you tell what's "real" about a coffee shop or roaster's buying methods?

In short, direct relationship coffee ". . . takes a substantial investment of time and money to build a business based on working directly with farmers. It also takes an infrastructure to allow someone to be out of the office a total of several months over the course of the year," according to Mike McKim at Cuvee Coffee Roasters. [Read Mike's discussion of direct-trade coffee here.] It's not just a two-day trip and a snapshot with a farmer. It's about building a legitimate relationship relationship between a roaster and a farm or grower, and it's not something that happens overnight.

Keep checking our blog to learn more about how direct-trade coffee works! For now, a New York Times article from 2007 may stir up some more interest.

11 January 2010

SCRBC Winners!

A big congratulations to the 2010 South Central Regional Barista Competition winners!

1st place: Lorenzo Perkins, Caffe Medici
2nd place: Aaron Blanco, Brown Coffee Company
3rd place: Tyler Wells, Frank

Thunderbird is proud to be a sponsor of this great coffee event!