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Sightseer Coffee Looks Great at First Coffee Bar in Austin

Coffee Bar photos – 4

The new Sightseer Coffee shop shares a South 1st Street building with Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop. All images courtesy of Sightseer Coffee.

You don’t have to look far to find great coffee in Austin, Texas, but any coffee tour of the city should now include a stop at Sightseer Coffee.

The women- and queer-owned coffee roasting company opened its first brick-and-mortar location on South 1st Street in late May, offering traditional and spectacularly experimental drinks using coffees produced by women. 

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“When you wholesale to people, that’s great and I love that, but there’s no control of the end product. When you sell things to people online, you can make recommendations, but there you’re not controlling the end product,” Sara Gibson, who co-founded Sightseer with Kimberly Zash, recently Daily Coffee News. “So this is our exciting moment to be like,’Look what we did with this shit. Look at this crazy shit! Isn’t this fun?!'”

Seasonal drinks, which Gibson said will generally be named in reference to musicians and artists, currently include the Teaches of Peaches, a cold brew coffee with peach nectar and mint syrup, shaken over ice and garnished with Tajín and a chili lime peach ring.

Gibson’s personal favorite is the Fade Into You, a maple-syrup-sweetened latte with black walnut bitters and black lava salt.

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The makings of the Fade Into You.

These and other liquid delights are crafted on a single-group La Marzocco espresso machine and a Mahlkönig grinder in the small cafe adjoining the South Austin bakery Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop.

“It’s super tiny. It allowed us to be scrappy in certain ways — like, we got a used espresso cart and re-stained it, and we bought shelving off of Facebook Marketplace,” said Gibson. “What we splurged on was the grind-by-weight [grinder] and the GS3 [espresso machine], because we just wanted to make sure the important things could shine.”

Illuminated by a mid-century modern starburst chandelier, the little black bar stands upon a black and white checkered floor and in front of a busily wallpapered accent wall.

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“We take the coffee really seriously; we just don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Gibson. “Our bags are now this bright yellow color, the labels are super colorful and kind of silly at times. We wanted the space to feel that way too — a little trippy, a little ‘in your face.’ It’s fun and it’s the stuff that I think just makes us happy. This is our vibe.”

Gibson and Zash launched the roasting company in late 2021. They’re also the co-founders the Rising Tide Roast Collaborative [RTRC] co-roasting facility, where Sightseer has grown as a tenant. 

Sightseer roasts most of its coffees on a 25-kilo Diedrich CR-25 at RTRC, where additional equipment currently includes a 10-kilo Mill City Roasters machine, Showroom Coffee Arc800 and Arc S roasters, a 180-gram-capacity Kaffelogic Nano 7 roaster and more.

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A grand opening celebration for the cafe is planned for June 29, including extended hours, 50% off all drinks, 20% off bags of coffee, free baked goods from Sugar Mama’s and a limited number of free “cold fashioned” cocktails. There will be a DJ set and a raffle to benefit Out Youth, a Central Texas nonprofit supporting trans and queer youth.

Following that, Gibson said the Sightseers plan to continue expanding their meticulous green coffee sourcing and roasting practices, while introducing a manual pourover program at that cafe.

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“We want to constantly bring it back to, for lack of a better word, our North Star, which is women coffee growers, quality in coffee, and how a person defines quality in coffee. Is it just a flavor profile and a score or is it a lot more than that?” said Gibson. “We can have all this fun and be goofy dorks, and we can also be really intentional about the coffee that we’re buying and things that we source and how we’re doing things, so that we can feel really, really good. We’re supporting gender equity at origin. We’re doing our, granted, very small part, but we’re doing our part to make a difference and make things a little bit more fair, we hope, for everyone, at every step of the way.”

Sightseer Coffee Bar is located at 1905 S 1st St. in Austin. Tell DCN’s editors about your new coffee shop or roastery here

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