Sugar Land Coffee Shop is Seriously Scientific About Its Beans & Brews
While some might think of Sugar Land as a “Chain Mecca of Generica,” there are great discoveries of restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops to be made for those willing to look. Blendin Coffee Club at 8410 US-90A (between Eldridge and Highway 6) is one such place.
The shop is owned by Weihou Zhang, who holds a PhD in biochemistry and is also a certified Arabica coffee grader. Raised in China, he came to the United States to attend college. “At that time, coffee was simply a bitter energy drink for me until I participated in a coffee cupping event by chance. The coffees on the cupping table opened my eyes. I never thought coffee could be so tasteful and full of personality, from the bright floral tune to pleasant fruity flavor to chocolatey and nutty richness. I started to learn about coffee,” said Zhang in a quote on the Blendin Coffee Club website.
His shop, a stylish, bright space with big windows, serves all the traditional espresso bar beverages — lattes, mochas, cappuccinos and the like at prices ranging from $3.25 to $4.50 — alongside an ever-changing list of single-origin coffees. The baristas also execute some impressive latte art on the milky, hot coffee drinks as they pull shots from the Italian Sanremo espresso machine.
On occasion, there are also limited-production coffee bean offerings or special drink creations. Kenny’s Cappuccino is a special beverage that changes quarterly based on which barista wins an in-house competition. The current rendition was inspired by barista Nicolas Tanaka’s trip to Japan. It’s an espresso drink that includes red bean and oolong tea syrups and a dusting of matcha green tea powder on top. This end result is slightly sweet and the distinctive flavor additions are harmonious complements to the coffee and warm milk. Tanaka’s drink creation is available until around February 9 and the cost is $5 plus tax.
With his biochemistry background, Zhang researched coffee beans with a scientific perspective, which included visiting the farms where the beans are grown and living with the owners for a time to see their processes. Afterward, he developed roasting processes unique to each type of bean in order to highlight its best characteristics. To control quality, all beans are roasted in-house at Blendin Coffee Club. Zhang calls it a “tree to cup experience.”
The lab and roasting space at Blendin is clearly visible through its glass windows and doors. Throughout the day, Zhang and his staff can be seen roasting beans or working with different coffee preparation methods.
Customers can choose from several of the different brew methods, including Aeropress, Chemex, moka pot, or V60 pour-over. Thanks to the testing of the various procedures ahead of time, the baristas can confidently recommend which method is best for specific, single-origin beans. The more rare and limited the coffee varietal is, the more expensive it can be.
For example, Esmeralda Panama is from Hacienda La Esmeralda coffee growers in Panama. It was ranked number two in the traditional washed group of beans in the 2019 Best of Panama competition. These beans are only sold at auction, in lots of 100 pounds per buyer. According to brand manager and roaster Maggie Yang, as far as she knows Blendin Coffee Club it is the only shop in Houston that carries the beans. The price for this rare cup is a whopping $16.25 and the recommended serving method is V60 pour-over. Other limited but not quite-so-rare coffees are $9. Don’t panic – not every brew is so pricey and more in line with other specialty coffee shops in the area. The drip-of-the-day is $3.25 and the more standard single origin coffees max out with Mount Kenya for $5.25. The full list is online.
For those who prefer tea, a selection of Western and Eastern Teas are included and freshly infused for the customer’s enjoyment. Seasonal pastry offerings to accompany the coffee are available as well.
BlendIn Coffee Club is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.