I recently found myself lamenting the loss of the coffee shops of my youth. These shops—dimly lit, open late, with a name like Insomnia or Jitterz or Red Eye—are a far cry from the bright white and clean lines of the modern cafe I frequent nowadays, where you’re more likely to see a refractometer than a can of whipped cream or a drizzle of anything. But these were the places I found my love for coffee—not specialty coffee, mind you—but coffee, that sugary, caffeinated beverage that over time became a latte, then a cappuccino, then simply an espresso or pour-over. The coffee shops of my formative years, the ones where I’d meet up with a friend for a few hours with no real plan in mind, have been effectively erased from my cosmology. It was this realization that left me longing for a past I thought never to return.
Then, joy of joys, on Monday, February 5, Coral Sword in Houston opened. Part coffee shop, part gaming and comics hang out, Coral Sword is the 90s cafe of my childhood, and it is perfect.
Coral Sword is a collaboration bridging multiple industries, starring some rather big names in their respective fields. Along with Greenway Coffee’s David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto (the creators of some of my favorite cafes in America) and Espresso Bar in Ann Arbor’s (now Literati Coffee) founder Sanford Bledsoe, the gaming cafe is the combined effort of two-time World Series Champion and three-time All Star right fielder for the San Francisco Giants Hunter Pence (pictured above in bobblehead form), his wife Lexi—herself a well-known vlogger—and Ming Chen, star of Kevin Smith’s AMC reality series Comic Book Men. If opening a gaming coffee shop was a D&D campaign, this is the sort of skill tree variety you’d be looking for on your team.
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