Progress Coffee began, in 2004, as a small café tucked in a warehouse on Austin’s east side long before any mid- or high-rises dotted the sky. Joshua Bingaman had a vision of what was to come in the area that most others could hardly imagine. Progress became the trailblazer for the area and a community gathering spot for those who lived and worked in east Austin. It became an eclectic mix of artists, musicians and designers mixed with original east side residents. Progress operated successfully for over 10 years in the same spot and remains a beloved memory throughout the area.
James Benson came to know Joshua several years ago as Joshua's boot company was gaining ground. James had previously worked in management and operations for local restaurants and always had a personal interest in coffee. This was a perfect mix to couple interest with previous experience to lead Progress forward as managing partner. James dove straight in, learning every step of the roasting process and now oversees all production, marketing and sales efforts.
During the time as a café, we lived the pain of sourcing consistent high-quality roasted coffee for several years. The market fluctuated and Progress had to endure the ups-and-downs of poor quality and rising prices. Roughly 10 years ago, in 2009, we decided to roast our own coffee in order to provide stability in offerings. Progress became one of the first ever Whole Foods Local Producer Loan recipients which allowed us to begin roasting coffee and we still do so in the location it all began.
Five years ago, Progress decided to sell the café to focus on roasting and to build a stronger framework for growth. This has been successful, but we have always missed the community facing aspect that the café provides. We have continued to be involved with many local groups and fundraising events, but the ability is much greater with a space geared to that end. Inevitably, questions arise any time we are out asking when we will be doing another community café. We think now is the perfect time and we have a great place to do so.