Making a Mark on Austin’s Coffee Scene

Owners Matt Bolick and Sterling Roberts inside Flat Track Coffee

Coffee lovers, here’s a travel tip you’ll definitely thank us for—head to Austin, Texas.

Tucked into space at the back of Farewell Books (once known as Domy Books) is an amazing espresso bar known as FlatTrack Coffee. It’s a very cozy, small space, but the flavor of the coffee is worth squeezing in for. It’s so small in fact that co-owners Matt Bolick and Sterling Roberts dismissed it initially thinking the 150 square feet just couldn’t possibly work.

They considered opening a full-scale shop and then began thinking of the small space again. Roberts has experience as a metal fabricator and built the whole place out and now that it’s up and running (it just opened in 2013), they think the small space is ideal.

“We don’t have wi-fi or pastries,” said Bolick. “When customers come in, they’re coming for the coffee. “We have six seats at the bar and we serve espresso or espresso with steamed milk in three sizes. We also have an iced coffee. We’ve kept it real simple and serve what we like most.”

Their business is more than just a coffee shop. It’s also a coffee roaster (this part of the business just hit its year anniversary) and sell their coffee through area grocery stores and other businesses. Plans are in the works to sell bottled cold brew coffee. “We’ll sell in growlers and 16 ounce bottles.”

Bolick and Roberts are childhood friends who grew up together in Fort Worth. About 10 years ago Roberts moved to Austin and Bolick followed about a year later. Bolick spent 10 years working in the coffee business and the two began discussing plans to go into business together. They run FlatTrack Coffee with the assistance of their one employee. Amanda Farris is technically the barista, but Bolick says she’s an integral part to the success of the company and accomplishes more than her title reveals.

Other stores may be in the offing at some point, but this may be the only one known as FlatTrack Coffee. Bolick is also hard at work with Matt and Grady Wright preparing to open a craft beer bar and coffee shop called Wright Bros Brew & Brew. “It will have 40 taps and craft coffee. We’ll be selling Flat Track Coffee,” he said.

Photo by Michael A. Muller