Waco coffee shop Common Grounds plans to open its own creamery by August.
While vanilla ice cream will be served, owner Blake Batson aims to spice it up with flavors like bourbon eggnog, cranberry and clove, cucumber and dill, and chai-spiced milk chocolate.
And if coffee and ice cream weren’t enough, the coffee shop near Baylor University also has opened a taco truck.
Batson, 29, said when the building adjacent to the land-locked coffee shop became vacant this fall, he leapt at the chance to secure the additional space.
Batson said the original idea was to serve food, but staff didn’t think the plan would be logistically feasible.
He said he wanted something that would complement Common Grounds, but not cannibalize it.
Batson said one of his employees, Dustin Patterson, 27, pitched the idea for well-made, organic ice cream with unique flavors.
“It just clicked. Like, yeah, we could do a dessert option right next door,” Batson said. “That would target exactly the same people that are already coming to Common Grounds and not have to redo and relearn a whole new business model.”
Heritage Creamery is set to open in August. The Crucero Cafe food truck started serving last week behind the coffee shop at 1125 S. Eighth St.
“That’s the idea, to have really good synergy with the whole property,” Batson said. “Go to the creamery, sit out on the deck, eat a taco, maybe get your ice cream and go over to Common Grounds and watch a show. Just a lot of really good synergy.”
Heritage Creamery won’t replicate the coffee shop that’s been open for two decades, Batson said. While Common Grounds has fast-paced service, the creamery will be much slower-paced, allowing customers time to try different flavors, like sweet potato porter ice cream, coffee ice cream or brown butter and Texas pecan ice cream.
Batson said he plans to offer 12 to 16 flavors at a time and will hire new staff for the location.
Common Grounds, Batson said, has an eclectic, random design that is more for lounging. Heritage Creamery’s design will have more continuity, with custom-built wood furniture, more stone and less upholstery. Batson said he is investing about $50,000 for the remodel.
Patterson said the ice cream will be made like it was meant to be, with milk, cream and eggs, not cornstarch or corn syrup.
“It’s really the way ice cream was made the last 100 years before we started introducing anti-melting properties in the ice cream and preservatives,” Patterson said.
Ingredients will be bought within an 80-mile radius of Waco. All flavors will be made with natural milk and cream from a dairy farm in McGregor, he said.
Patterson said he goes to the Waco Downtown Farmers Market each Saturday and buys new foods to experiment with to challenge himself and push the boundaries on flavors. Patterson said he recently made an ice cream out of rutabaga, apple and maple.
Patterson said his inspiration is what reflects Waco and the city’s seasonality.
“Sweet potatoes are another perennial vegetable we get here in Waco, so that was one of the first ones I did when the farmer’s market started to have less and less options for me to use in ice cream,” he said. “So we did a roasted sweet potatoes and porter beer ice cream.”
“It was amazing,” Patterson and Batson said simultaneously.
Patterson said they have been making samples in an ice cream maker at home. The quart size has been frustrating because the ice cream runs out so fast from so many people trying the new flavors, he said. They just purchased a 6-quart commercial ice cream maker for the creamery, he said.
The name for the new ice cream venture has multiple meanings for its owners.
Batson said he wants to interweave Heritage Creamery into what already exists in Waco and connect with the heritage. Between partnering with local farms for use of their produce as well as area businesses to sell the ice cream in other locations, Batson said, they want to create positive relationships while helping others succeed.
Family also will be important to the creamery.
Batson said his mother, Joanne Batson, will be making chocolate cookies with a family recipe and cookie cakes for events and parties as part of Heritage Creamery. The recipe for the chocolate cookie runs in the family.
Batson said he’s not worried about being spread too thin with the addition of the taco truck and creamery. He said he has a full-time manager to handle Common Grounds and the Coffee Container — which opened last year — and Patterson will handle the creamery and taco truck.
“The cool thing is the right people have always been there,” Batson said. “Dustin was working with me at Common Grounds . . . It was very clear to me early on that this guy doesn’t need to be making minimum wage making cowboy coffees. So Dustin became a store manager and as this developed, with the timing and fit, was perfect for him to step away and be over these things.”
Batson said he’s already looking into the future, beyond taco trucks, coffee shops, coffee containers and ice cream. He said at some point he’d like to open a brew pub with a few friends.
“That’s the thing, we know what there is in other places and we love those things.” he said. “But we love Waco so much, we’re like, ‘Man, why aren’t there these same things, what’s the problem?’ So that’s what drives us. Let’s do it. Let’s partner with people.”
El Crucero Taco Truck