The Eastside of San Antonio is an area that has been forgotten for far too long. Besides frequent trips to the 13th Floor Haunted House, we haven’t spent much time there, until now. Two local San Antonio entrepreneurs, Brian Labarbera and Ben Annotti, are opening a coffee shop and quality good store – Estate Coffee Company and Oak & Salt – at 1320 E. Houston St. The 1,200 square foot space has been completely renovated to become San Antonio’s hottest new spot to drink coffee and shop spices. We sat down with Brian and Ben to chat about the coffee roasting facility with coffee bar, as well as a boutique specialty food and spice supply shop.
Twenty Something SA: Tell us about the space.
Ben Annotti, Oak & Salt: We’ve been online for the past two years and towards the end of last year we received good momentum with us being featured in the Wall Street Journal and that launched our national identity. I was trying to find a place to set up our home base and introduce ourselves here locally. When I found this spot on E. Houston with the parking and the street frontage, I reached out to Brian because I knew he had been looking to open a coffee shop. Everything is in open view and we love the total transparency.
20SA: What kind of products will you be selling?
Brian Labarbera, Estate Coffee Company: We roast all of our own coffee and source it all. For the most part, it’s a coffee bar with an emphasis on roasting. It’s out in the open so you can see everything from start to finish. Every specialty drink we have will have spices from Oak & Salt incorporated into it.
BA: We’re a full-service spice shop. With a storefront, we’ve been able to do spice blends and salt. Now that we have a kitchen area, we can start blending packaging.
20SA: How would you help someone who knows nothing about spices (Jacqueline and I)?
BA: I start off by asking people where there favorite place to travel is and I can get a sense of what they like from their answer. I love to work with people and ask what they are cooking tonight, or we can find something that fits their palette – mild, floral, better.
BL: It’s sensory overload. You see something that doesn’t look great, and then you smell it and you want to buy it. It’s crazy.
20SA: What do you think you will bring to the Eastside of San Antonio?
BA: We looked at buildings in Southtown and in the Pearl area, but once we found this one, I grabbed him [Brian] immediately. There’s a lot of development in the early stages here so we just love the momentum.
20SA: We all want to know, when will you be open?
BA: I would say we are in the day to week period not the week to month period. We will open as fast as we can. As soon as they turn the water on, we’re ready to go. As far as hours, we’ll be open for the people.
BL: The first couple weeks will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week until we gauge what times will be best.
20SA: Anything else you’d like to share?
BA: We’re extremely excited. Online businesses are great, but it’s so impersonal. It so much more satisfying to be able to talk to people in the shop.