With three years in business and as many locations behind them, a duo of Baylor University graduates will open a coffee shop Tuesday with plans to offer more than specialty drinks.

Dylan Washington and John David Beard hope their new Pinewood Coffee Bar at 2223 Austin Ave. will serve as a community hub and live music venue for the neighborhood as they offer up coffee roasted on-site, pastries in the morning and farm-to-table options for lunch.

After starting in a garage, Washington and Beard moved their roasting operation to rented space in downtown McGregor in 2015 with the goal of selling coffee online and in local shops. A year later, they opened a coffee bar in the Alpha Omega restaurant in downtown Waco as they continued roasting in McGregor.

After leaving the restaurant in the spring and a public hiatus for the summer, they now have eight employees and a new venue to themselves. The location is fit with space for their roaster, a coffee bar, lunch service and an outside patio to host monthly live music events.

The venture started out of a love for the coffee industry and a strong desire to be part of that world, said Beard, who has a management degree from Baylor. At every step since they moved out of the garage, there has been a lingering question of “Now what?” Beard said.

“Up until now, it’s just been arriving here,” Washington said.

The space

Pinewood Coffee Bar

A 15-seat coffee bar is centered in Pinewood's new location at 2223 Austin Ave.

The shop takes up 1,800 square feet in a 3,000-square-foot space next to the offices of Rydell Real Estate, which owns the building.

Natural light pours through large windows and across the room into custom booths handmade by Waco’s E2 Creative while music from a hi-fi record player fill the air.

“Our colors are a natural, an eggshell and brown, just really clean and warm and inviting and happy — all the things I love,” Washington said.

Seating surrounds the room, with a 15-seat coffee bar in the middle.

“It’s set up to where this is an extremely communal environment,” Washington said. “Hopefully if people want to come in, read the paper, see people that they see every morning, we can serve this neighborhood well.”

The shop will offer muffins and doughnuts with coffee in the morning, and the lunch options have the duo excited.

Pinewood partnered with Waco-based Happy Harvest owners Toby Tull and Juanita Barrientos. Happy Harvest will offer several nutritious farm-to-table lunches, including sandwiches and vegan pizzas that don’t include refined sugars, Beard said.

“You’ll be able to come here for a quick good lunch without the crash mid-day,” he said.

People, product

Pinewood Coffee Bar

Chris Wernette (from left), John David Beard, Dylan Washington and Thomas Csorba sit in Pinewood Coffee Bar last week as they prepare for the opening of their new location.

Pinewood’s mission goes beyond a quality cup of coffee.

“I think it can be captured really well in the question we’re getting asked, which is, ‘Why are you not downtown?’ ” Washington said. “Ultimately, it’s because we wish to serve the Greater Waco area. We wish to plug into Castle Heights and Sanger Heights at this point and be a community hub for those people and for anybody.

“Everybody that’s ever interacted with our brand hopefully knows we’re about serving the customer almost too well. Really, we care very, very deeply about that. When the customer is not around, we exhaust ourselves on how much we can know about coffee.”

Thomas Csorba, Pinewood’s head of music and staff foreman, said since joining forces with Washington and Beard he has learned the importance of understanding every customer is a gift and treating them as such. The duo truly cares about the product and the people, he said.

“They are so enamored by both, that people just want to be around it,” he said. “We want this to be a place the community feels at home.”

Upgrading the water

Pinewood Coffee Bar

Dylan Washington (left) and Thomas Csorba discuss their new coffee bar, which has space on-site for their roasting operation. The new location opens Tuesday.

Making the community feel at home won’t tamp down the attention to detail on the coffee. Pinewood will use a water filtration system for all drinks.

“The idea is that we’re going to bring our water down to almost completely pure water and we’re going to make mineral recipes for our water,” Washington said. “So our water will be unlike anyone else’s.”

The concept is not novel for specialty coffee shops and is one Pinewood is approaching seriously, he said.

Pinewood staff spent much of the summer crafting recipes for new drinks.

They plan to offer a specialty drink or two every month, including some flavors not typically associated with coffee, general manager Chris Wernette said.

“I really believe that we’ve got some stuff up our sleeve that’s going to be awesome,” Washington said.

Not every experiment has panned out, and several will never make the menu.

Washington said they attempted to make an avocado latte, which failed miserably.

“It wasn’t bad. It was interesting,” Beard said.

“It tasted like it needed diced tomatoes, some cilantro, some opinions and a tortilla chip,” Washington said.

Live music

Pinewood Coffee Bar

Guests take in Pinewood Coffee Bar’s new location Saturday during a preopening party featuring coffee, crawfish and music.

Waco favorite Lomelda will perform the first show at Pinewood on Sept. 1, Csorba said.

Csorba said he and Washington have played a lot of shows in bands at various locations and know how difficult it is to find an area that is designed for guests to be attentive to the performing artist. Their outside performance space, centered around a large live oak tree, has been crafted to create that type of atmosphere, he said.

“This is honestly one reason why we love this spot,” Washington said.

When artists are not performing, the space will serve as an outdoor seating area for customers.

“On a sunny day, there’s not an unshaded spot out here,” Wernette said.

As the fledgling location finds its feet, Pinewood will continue selling its products at Common Grounds and locations in Tyler, Austin and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and continue the push to have their coffee sold across the country.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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