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Nine Flags Coffee — Hand Roasted The Old Fashioned Way in the Oldest Town in Texas

 Karle Wilson Baker’s (1878–1960) beautiful poem “Nacogdoches Speaks” begins: 

I was The Gateway. Here they came, and passed,
The homespun centaurs with their arms of steel
And taut heart-strings: wild wills, who thought to deal
Bare-handed with jade Fortune, tracked at last
Out of her silken lairs into the vast
Of a Man’s world. They passed, but still I feel
The dint of hoof, the print of booted heel,
Like prick of spurs—the shadows that they cast.


Baker's poem hints at the dusty days of Old Texas when men, horses, cattle walked trails, not roads. When men and women knew toil from sun to sun. When true empresario promises of cheap land drew them so fast that the government got nervous.

So begins the tale of the nine flags.

Nine Flags Coffee Roasters planted their outdoor roastery and (indoor) coffee shop on one of the most storied trails in all of Texas: the El Camino Real, now Highway 21. This road joined the two largest towns in Texas, San Antonio and Nacogdoches, in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds when people with hearts of courage walked it. Still today, drivers cruise the 21 to get to San Antonio.

Native, Spanish, Mexican,  Texan, and U.S. History have played out on this highway.

Today, men and women visit Nine Flags Coffee Shop and tell stories. Little do they realize that they are sitting on the spot where Father Margil, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Sam Houston got red dirt on their feet. Where Haden Edwards rebelled against Spanish authority and conceived of the Republic of Fredonia. Where the Gutiérrez–Magee Expedition wrested Texas from the Spanish crown only to have their blood spilled in the greatest loss of life at the Battle of Medina near present day San Antonio (where a young Spanish officer named Santa Anna watched as Spanish General, Arredondo ordered the firing squad execution of Texas prisoners).

These coffee drinkers fill cups with coffees grown in the richest soils the world over. As they drink, they talk.

Talking leads to friendships. Lumbermen, tow truck drivers, lawyers, and doctors. Marketers, authors, coaches, and teachers. Missionaries, pagans, state troopers, and entrepreneurs. All fill cups with fresh fire-roasted brews from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. They argue over whether they can taste the differences. Some talk of berry and chocolate in their coffees. Others taste hints of citrus.

Some taste great coffee but can’t explain what it is that makes it so. 

One drinks a cup from New Guinea and claims it’s the best, another loves the Rwanda or Panama. These specialty coffees finesse the conversations into tales of life lived in the red dirt of Nacogdoches, Texas.

Opinions about Jesus and President Trump. Terrorists and Texas History. And song. Many a morning finds one or another croaking out a tune à propos to the talk. 

Self-deprecating humor and laughter season the shop with fun.

Others prefer coffee from Central America. There was almost an uproar in the shop when Mexico coffee ran out! Those who love it groaned until they roasted a new batch. Others prefer the Honduras and Guatemala brews.

Co-owner, David Hansen developed the roasting technique in which he worked to never burn the coffee. He felt that many coffees, even gourmet specialty coffees, burn in the roasting process. Roasting over oak in their outdoor kiln requires a careful eye to keep it from overcooking. The roasters go through every batch and throw out anything that looks crispy. The result is always smooth, never burned.

A unique feature of Nine Flags coffee is that there are always over half a dozen coffees to choose from on the counter. A taster can try them all before they pour a full cup, narrowing down to the exact flavor that excites their taste buds. 

First timers often get a gleeful look on their faces as they explore up to nine different delicious coffees looking for the one. They feel like they must be getting away with something. The owners know this kind of Texas freedom keeps coffee drinkers coming back.

And as coffee drinkers try different ones over the months, they often notice their own tastes changing. Ones all about the African roasts try something from the Western hemisphere and find a new delight. They know the African roast isn’t going anywhere. They can have it again tomorrow!

Too, coffee drinkers all about Mexican coffee, find they enjoy a cup of Rwanda coffee.

What if one can’t get to the oldest town in Texas? Then, go to All the coffee is wood-fire roasted over oak in our one-of-a-kind outdoor kiln. On the El Camino Real.

Nine Flags Coffee Roasters Coffee Shop is where Old Texas meets the world. Taste it in the cup.

Which Nine Flags roast lights you up?