Hold onto your horses, Taos—there’s a new coffee shop in town. But you probably knew that already, didn’t you? You were probably already there for their recent Mannequin Challenge, or a work meeting, or just really good coffee. You’ve probably already met Pablo and Lydia, the outstanding millennial couple that runs the place. What, you haven’t? Then have I got a place for you. A place for everyone in Taos.
Because here’s the thing. They don’t just make coffee—and tea, espresso, you name it—at the Coffee Apothecary. Pablo Flores of Taos and Lydia McHaley of Albuquerque are building a community in their super modern café, adjacent to Gearing Up bike shop. They are starting a revolution using the people and energy we already have here, in ways that have been waiting to come to fruition. They are providing a space for all to feel welcome, to make connections, to be themselves.
Which fits with the original impetus for cafés—and in a long history of cafés as spaces where people of all backgrounds (and socioeconomic statuses) can come together to exchange ideas, read, write, and enjoy the comfort of a warm beverage. Not that we have any particular shortage of cafés in Taos, and each offers its own take on the tradition.
The Coffee Apothecary, though, is adding fresh things in just the right doses, not the least of which are the infectious, complementary personalities of its co-owners.
Pablo is energetic, talkative, jumping from fair trade to trends in coffee machines to the importance of engaging customers authentically. He makes it clear that, although his father (Taoseños likely remember Greg Flores from his days at Elevation) started the Albuquerque café Espresso Fino first, they learned the craft of coffee-making from one another. Lydia is more mild-mannered, quiet but full of knowledge, humbly sharing when asked. She peppers Pablo’s comments with her own valuable contributions, insights and connections among topics. Together, they both greet customers by name, make outstanding espresso drinks, and ensure the space is safe for people of all economic and ethnic backgrounds, all ages, and all levels of housing stability/instability. As Pablo notes, “The Coffee Apothecary caters to everybody.”
But, why an apothecary? For one, both Lydia and Pablo are invested in—and know how to make—quality coffee, free of oils, mold, and other toxins. For another, they envision a combination coffeehouse and marketplace for natural skin care, bath salts, body butters, and essential oils, all handcrafted by Lydia and sold in the same space. They also offer baked goods from Sweet Sol in Taos, including hand-rolled croissants and gluten free options.
Through their efforts, this room in Taos has become a space for wellness on several levels—the physical, social, and spiritual. We can’t help but want to tend to ourselves on these various levels, and that we can do so at the Coffee Apothecary makes it all the more indispensable to the community. The greatest compliment they’ve received, Lydia mentioned, is that their place “feels like my Tia’s kitchen.”
The new owners worked from October to December to get the space ready; Pablo built the bar. The Coffee Apothecary opened on December 26, 2016. So, what’s next for this enterprising young couple? Once they have their business off the ground, they plan to open the space for rentals (e.g. meetings, events, classes) and live acoustic music sets. They take inspiration from café culture in California and in Asian countries like Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea, where coffee isn’t just served; it’s made in a culture of precision, offering, and beauty—a perfect combination of science and art.
But the most exciting initiative to watch for here is Slow Bar Sundays, coming up this Spring. On these Sundays, the Coffee Apothecary will open for limited hours, and there will be no Wifi, no to-go cups. Rather, there will only be individual drink orders and specific pairings with the food, an a la carte brunch menu provided by the Shed Project, run by Johnny Ortiz and Leia Layus. These brunches will be an opportunity to chill out and embrace (at least one) day of rest on the weekend. The question will be—not, where are you headed?, but—what does each ingredient do for you? What are you up to these days? And whatever else comes up. The opportunity will be there to talk with your neighbors.
In sum, Pablo and Lydia are growing the Coffee Apothecary using the age-old coffee shop as a medium of community outreach. One fact they note—and use to great advantage—is that coffee is one of the few substances that both stimulates the human brain and calms it down through release of endorphins. They have studied the history of the coffeehouse as a place for idea exchange, and they have kept up with current trends in the industry. They also agree that coffee is one of the great unifiers, sought out by a wide variety of people, in our community and around the world.
Here, then, is an opportunity for us to embrace our community—one cup, one conversation at a time.
The Coffee Apothecary is open 7am-4pm Monday-Friday, 8am-2pm Saturday & Closed Sundays (for now) Located right next to Gearing Up on 616 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos.