On March 14, Bastrop County coffee lovers gathered around Neon Bean Coffee to celebrate the grand opening of Cedar Creek’s newest independent coffee shop. The day included $1 drink specials, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, giveaways and more.
“We had a wonderful time at our grand opening!” said Owner Sydni M. Smith. “Special thanks to the Bastrop County Chamber of Commerce, our partners at Crimson Cup, our barista staff and especially our customers – for your warm welcome and support of our coffee house!”
The new coffee shop features espressos, mochas, lattes and other coffee drinks. Guests can choose drinks served hot, over ice, or blended into a frozen beverage. All drinks are served on the go from a pick-up window.
When she conceived the idea for Neon Bean Coffee, Smith had zero coffee experience. A former flight paramedic/medical recruiter for the Texas Army National Guard, she left a 10-year military career to pursue her dream of opening Neon Bean.
“There were no drive-thru coffee options on my daily 48-minute commute between Bastrop and Austin,” she recalled. “This sore point became an inspiration.”
After a night spent dreaming up her ideal cafe, she started a “playful investigation” into what it would take to start her own business.
“I was goofing around, Googling things like ‘how to start a coffee shop‘ and “how to write a coffee shop business plan.’ Somehow I ended up purchasing the book Seven Steps to Success: a Common-sense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee by Crimson Cup Founder and President Greg Ubert.”
From there, Smith was astonished by the doors that opened for her. “Between the Fall of 2022 and February of 2023, I dreamt up, created and opened Neon Bean Coffee. It was meant to be!”
After Smith obtained funding, it became clear that she needed help with her building’s design and layout. “When I learned that Crimson Cup bundled shop design, equipment purchasing, training and business consulting all in one, I was sold.”
“Or maybe there would be, but it would have been a hot mess compared to what this team has enabled us to do.”
She said the hands-on consulting brought home the 7 Steps principles in Ubert’s book and tailored them to her needs.
“Steve drew up a layout for our unique shop, which went beyond the best practices outlined in the book. His training showed my team how to make drinks that were already proven crowd-pleasers.”
“Similarly, learning marketing strategies in the book was cool, but Heather and I discuss, in real-time, the most effective strategy for my shop and its unique challenges.”
“Crimson Cup consulting has been worth its weight in gold!” she concluded. “I am amazed that I have a shop that can run so smoothly and professionally, given that I have no entrepreneurial or barista experience!”
In the first few months since opening, Neon Bean Coffee has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the Cedar Creek community.
“My customers love that they have something affordable and high quality as an alternative to the big chain coffee shops,” Smith said.
In one review, a Google Local Guide echoed Smith’s reason for creating the business and raved about the coffee.
“We finally have some good coffee in the area! The seasonal special today was Lavender Haze, and it was absolutely to.die.for. My husband ordered a chai and I have to say, it was the best we’ve had in a while. I am so excited to have coffee stop so close to home. We will absolutely be back!”
The coffee, roasted by Crimson Cup, ranks among the best in the nation. Among other honors, the roaster is a former Roast Magazine Roaster of the Year and won 2020 and 2017 Good Food Awards.
Smith offered this advice for entrepreneurs who want to open their coffee shops:
“Use a consulting company – and I highly recommend Crimson Cup – unless you have previous experience opening a coffee shop. Even then, maybe you weren’t operating it as efficiently as possible.”
She also recommended “having realistic expectations” and knowing your community “really, really well.”
“Too many times, well-meaning people open coffee shops, but they don’t have a clear picture of the community they will be serving. So have a service mindset and learn the unique identity characteristics of your community. People know when you aren’t being authentic or intentional!”
Smith invites everyone in Bastrop County and beyond to visit Neon Bean Coffee, which is open six days a week at 1634 SH 71 in Cedar Creek.
“We can’t wait to welcome you!” she said. “We genuinely love our customers, and I think that energy is reciprocated. We would not be anything without the tremendous support that has come from the people of Bastrop County and Cedar Creek, Texas.”
About Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea
Founded in 1991, Crimson Cup is at the forefront of the coffee industry. Its attentive roasting, startup support and global partnerships are consciously designed for the greater good of communities around the world. Among other national recognitions, the company has earned 2020 and 2017 Good Food Awards, the 2019 Golden Bean Champion for Small Franchise/Chain Roaster and Roast magazine’s 2016 Macro Roaster of the Year.
Crimson Cup travels the world searching for the perfect cup – driven by meaningful relationships, honesty and a shared vision for the future. Its Friend2Farmer initiatives foster respect and decency through mutually beneficial collaboration across local and global communities.
Through its 7 Steps to Success coffee shop startup program, the company teaches entrepreneurs how to open and run independent coffee houses in their local communities. By developing a coffee shop business plan, entrepreneurs gain insight into coffee shop startup costs.
Crimson Cup coffee is available through over 350 independent coffee houses, grocers, college and universities, restaurants and food service operations across 30 states, Guam and Bangladesh. The company also owns several Crimson Cup Coffee Shops and a new CRIMSON retail flagship store. To learn more, visit crimsoncup.com