By VINCE REMBULAT
Even on a slow day, Austin’s Coffee Crafters can be quite busy.
That’s the new coffee house in Ripon located not too far from the Mistlin Sports Complex in the Ripon Terrazza Shopping Center, 222 W. River Rd.
Customers come by one to four or five at a time to relax, read or just conversate about everyday life.
A bespectacled young man and first-time customer asked Alexus Kearney, who, along with her mother Kristie Tate, co-own the coffee house featuring high quality fair-trade beans and in-house scones and biscotti, on a good, nice caffeinated drink on this Monday afternoon.
She was quick to suggest ‘The Troublemaker,’ an iced caramel latte which is fast becoming the most popular drink at Austin Coffee Crafters.
It wasn’t too long ago that Kearney was a designer in the marketing field. She put the word out on this family business endeavor by using social media not to mention the website, www.austinscoffeecrafters.com.
“My brother and I had always talked about doing something together on created community space,” she said, remembering Austin Peterson.
He was known to his friends as “Smiley.” Peterson was 15 when he was struck by a commuter train while riding bikes with his friends in 2017. He was a freshman at Sierra High, where he played football, basketball and baseball for the Timberwolves.
His tragic loss was the inspiration behind the name.
Tate, who lives in Manteca, grew up in Denair and lived in Modesto for most of her life. She was employed at the Stanislaus County Office of Education for 18 years.
Life changed with the loss of her son. “We found solace in good food, community and simplicity,” said the mother-daughter team in their website.
This dream-turned-reality business uses the freshest ingredients and a partnership with Counter Culture Coffee Roasters out of Emeryville.
“People don’t realize the amount of work that goes into making an individual cup of coffee,” said Kearney on the ethos of fair trade, a grassroots movement which promotes goods that were made soundly by small, independent producers from around the world.
As a designer, she wanted to develop a place that’s inviting to the community. “I spent a lot of time in coffee houses,” said Kearney, who has lived in Ripon for over two years.
Tate indicated that they had sought out places where new construction was taking place – the Ripon Terrazza is part of the City of Ripon’s North Pointe Specific Plan, consisting of about 310 acres in the northern part of town bounded by the Mistlin Sports Park to the north, Highway 99 to the south, Fulton Avenue to the east, and Jack Tone Road to the west.
At the build out, the project is expected to include to some 1,040 residential units and about 1.4 million square feet of non-residential uses (offices, retail and park spaces).
“We had the design and the layout,” said Tate, who had a chance to work with the contractors during the building process.
As for the menu, Austin’s offers up expresso, cappuccino, latte, americano, and mocha, coffee (light roast, dark roast, au lait and ice flash brew), and tea (house iced or hot loose leaf).
Specialties include the aforementioned Troublemaker along with Schoolhouse Affogato (ice cream, espresso, caramel and whip cream), Austin’s Hot Chocolate, Elementary Chai Latte (house chai and steamed milk), Ripon Fog (Earl Grey tea, milk, honey, cinnamon and house vanilla), Summer School Julep (local lavender infused with lemonade) and The Librarian (half lemonade and half citrus black iced tea).
Among the fresh-baked food items are the lemon poppy seed scones, southern blueberry scores, and Ma’s biscotti.
“Our mornings are usually hopping,” said Tate, who notices an influx of parents stopping by after dropping off the kids to school.
Later in the day – Austin’s is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Austin’s Coffee Crafters has quickly become a popular gathering place for friends and families.
Kearney and Tate currently employ a staff of 17. Of that, five are friends of Austin.
They all share his memory.
“They’re happy memories,” Tate said. “This has been something very positive.”
By VINCE REMBULAT