Spend five minutes with Dylan Washington, owner of Waco's Pinewood Coffee Roasters, and it becomes apparent he's not selling the brown bean for the caffeine fix. His vision of bringing people together prevails, from the warm aesthetic you'll note upon entry, to the coffee itself, which has been waking up the locals since they opened their doors in 2015.
We sat down to find out more.
- How did you get started?
I had the idea but my business partner graduated with a business degree and had the training and gusto to do it. We just wanted to start a community place where a community can gather. We didn’t want to be a downtown shop, a strictly neighborhood shop. There’s a lot of those in places like Austin and Dallas. We'd been roasting for three years prior.
- How did you get into roasting?
I was a freshman in college and was doing it on a skillet, in my dorm. Then I met (business partner) JB and we started doing it as a serious hobby.
- And when did this transition from a hobby to a 'thing?'
The owner of Common Grounds here in town said that if we started a roastery, he would buy our coffee. We were like cool, there’s a bit of an opportunity.
We were both working there at the time, I was head barista at Common Grounds for a couple years.
Tell me about the record player.
Before we had this place, we had a little to-go bar downtown in a greek food restaurant. But we were starting to gain a pretty big following, even with our podunk setup.
So we were doing it there and we put in a record player in that little place and people just loved it – they loved seeing vinyl turn. We’re all vinyl guys anyways, so we just consolidated all of our equipment. That equipment is JBs, it’s mine, it’s Chris’s. As far as the records it’s mostly 60s, 70s, 80s stuff. Literally besides what’s being played right now (the Decemberists).
We do shows now once a month. This sounds really stupid but it’s not supposed to: they’re really, really exclusive shows. We advertise them the whole month. By the time the date rolls around, it’s a 100 person capacity, so it’s sold out two weeks before.
We had about a hundred pre-sold tickets and a hundred people show up for the last show.
What's something that would surprise your customers?
It’d probably surprise consumers to know how much time our staff, owners, and management have spent curating this experience. We meet often to evaluate what we’re doing well and poorly.
One great example is: we look at other coffee shops that we really love, we find their worst reviews and *don't* do that.
We also handmade the whole place: the bar, the chairs, the shelves, the ceiling – everything. We did have a contractor, but towards the end of it we were putting in a lot more sweat equity than our contractor was.
We put up this roof, we lacquered it, we put up a lot of the sheetrock, we did all the plumbing.