White Rock Coffee takes coffee seriously. After opening in 2005, it has expanded to own a commercial bakery, roaster, warehouse and a handful of locations. Owners even bought out the Jack in the Box next door to create a lab for employee training and public coffee classes. But it seems like neighbors take it even more seriously. When a Starbucks opened next door, neighbors were fuming. They frequently go online to defend White Rock Coffee, so why are neighbors fiercely loyal?
From the White Rocker, Adam Bomb and Cinderella, WRC customers praise their beverages. “We usually roast, package and deliver to our locations all on the same day,” Baker says. “We source coffee from probably every coffee-growing region on the planet.” The variety of blends come from about 34 different regions. WRC’s tasting team meets once a week and checks for quality. The team focuses on isolating naturally occurring flavors to create a wide selection of blends. Customers can enjoy a Costa Rica honey blend, which has hints of berries, brown sugar and plums. Or they can enjoy the fan-favorite House Blend with caramel, baking chocolate and juicy flavors. “We like to have a variety that would please a lot of different people, a lot of different palates,” Baker says.
Walking into WRC can feel like a sitcom episode, where the barista personally knows your name and order. “Not only the best coffee, but a very special place! Great personnel, super customer service,” customer Jutta Preston says. Employees are screened for their ability to form relationships. “I’m pretty sure my family has gotten WRC at least five times a week since the COVID-19 shelter-in-place in March,” customer Michelle Ball says. “Above all, it’s the customer service that keeps me loyal. At every location, the people serving me have always been kind, cheerful and helpful.”
“They’re a local small business, and their coffee is far superior to mermaid swill,” customer Kris Moore says. White Rock Coffee is as local as can be. Not only did owner Nancy Baker attend Lake Highlands High School, but she still lives in the L Streets with husband Robert Baker. As hands-on owners of WRC, they support local organizations like White Rock Center of Hope and Feed Lake Highlands. “They support us, and we want to support our neighborhood,” Baker says
It feels like home
Over 15 years, Baker says she’s seen her fair share of proposals at WRC. They’ve had nine baristas meet and marry. A few customers were even invited to wedding festivities. “It’s my youngest daughter’s favorite place,” customer Lucinda Cummins says. “It’s the first place she goes to when she comes home from college.” WRC serves as a home away from home for a lot of people. Whether they come to study privately, host work meetings or attend a first date. “It’s so cliché to say, ‘It’s like family,’ but no, it really is,” Baker says.
The food is actually good
Sometimes coffee shop food purchases are a last-minute grab for someone who forgot to pack a lunch. That’s not the case with WRC. “They have good food choices in a pinch. I can zip through the drive-thru and pick up a breakfast, snack or lunch,” customer Jennifer Cluney says. All pastries are cooked from scratch in the WRC bakery. “We have monthly meetings with our bake shop manager, and we come together with recipes,” owner Nancy Baker says. The hometown cooking even comes down to the chicken salad recipe, which came from Baker’s mother. “We always wanted to be very coffee centric, so our food is very intentional on how it pairs,” she says.