Flat Track Coffee

“I’m hungry, do you wanna grab a breakfast burrito down the road before we start?” That was my introduction to Sterling Roberts, one of the owners of Flat Track Coffee. An Austin, TX based coffee shop that’s on my top 5 list of favorite shops I’ve visited. Something about it just felt right. Oh, and of course I said yes to the breakfast burrito…what am I crazy!

Flat Track was founded by friends, Sterling Roberts and Matt Bolick. These dudes go way back, originally riding BMX together.

Their shop measures in at only 150 square feet and it’s freakin’ perfect. They’re rocking a customized matte black La Marzocco GB5 that they picked up through Matt’s connection with Tyler Wells of Frank > Handsome > Blacktop fame. Beyond their espresso station, there’s a bench and a few chairs against a ledge and that it.

If I wanted something, I would just absolutely kill myself to get it.

They were originally promised a crazy amount of cash from an investor to open Flat Track up with a roasting facility but you know how that story goes… So a friend invested just enough money to purchase the necessities to open their shop. Or as Sterling puts it,

I’ve always been good at forced efficiency in figuring out a way to make it work with nothing.

I recently watched a TED talk where the speaker concluded that one of the biggest factors in a companies success is timing. And these dudes opened their doors at the perfect time. Right in the middle of freakin’ SXSW. That helped them immediately find an audience.

Their beans are roasted by Travis Kizer on a Diedrich IR-12.

I don’t want to say I’m old school but I grew up on a ranch and was used to the life where everyone helped each other out. You knew everyone in your town and I kind of want that feel in a big city.

Sterling considers himself to be more a facilitator in his desire to bring people together. And that was on full display the day I was there. Having such a small joint may seem to hinder that, but it actually allows for a more open environment to meet people who are all casually talking instead of locked away on their laptop. During our shoot I ended up meeting and having a great conversation about photography and cycling with one of their regulars, John Watson aka @theradavist. If you’re into cycling you’re probably already following him online. If not, you’re missing out.

I asked Sterling if they had plans of expanding their roasting program or if they’ve considered opening up a second location:

We’ll never open another shop. If we do it will be a different atmosphere, a different name. Everything will be different about it but it will be about growing the business at the same time….we’re not done growing but I feel that we’re done as far as struggling.

These dudes have put in work and thankfully they’re being rewarded. They just celebrated their three year anniversary and have come a long way from opening the doors, renegade style without permits or plumbing to having well respected coffee shop.