The first thing I notice is the warm, rustic smell of coffee. The rhythmic sounds of worldly music creates an interesting backdrop to about a dozen ongoing conversations. And then I see someone walk by with a delicious-looking sandwich.
I started coming to Monkey Nest Coffee on Burnet mostly for their delicious coffee. It’s consistently the best around, in my opinion. But it has also become a favorite place for me to bring clients for lunches, and a fantastic gathering spot to enjoy a Saturday night listening to local musicians and chatting with friends.
Better Coffee, Better Service for the Community
For those who are new to the Allandale area, Monkey Nest was in business before Burnet became one of the city’s hottest spots for new restaurants and businesses. Monkey Nest owner Koros Derakshani spotted the location’s potential in 2011. The building had been a liquor store before becoming a second-hand clothing store and then sat vacant waiting for someone with a vision.
Koros, who has lived in Allandale more than 20 years, had that vision. He saw Burnet was picking up momentum and becoming a walkable neighborhood. And he knew his neighbors in Allandale well enough to know they would support a high-quality coffee shop that embraced local artists, musicians and social groups.
Plus, he told me this with a friendly grin: “I just didn’t like the Starbucks coffee. We wanted to have a better product, better service and do as much as possible for the community.”
Koros ensures Monkey Nest uses as many locally-sourced products as possible. Their coffee is organic, the eggs come from free-range chickens and most of their bakery items are made in-house. And you absolutely must try one of their sandwiches or salads — they’re fantastic!
Let There Be Art!
In addition to local musicians on Friday and Saturday nights, Monkey Nest sets aside two big wall spaces where local artists can showcase their work and perhaps find interested buyers. I recently discovered a fantastic local photographer while I was exploring the walls. The photographer, Todd V Wolfson, has a vast collection of beautiful portraits of local artists, including Ian McLagan and Alejandro Escovedo. It’s another reason Monkey Nest is among my favorite neighborhood hangouts. That’s the type of community support many artists need to prosper.
Koros, who moved to Austin from Oxford, England nearly 30 years ago, used to be a mechanical engineer at a nuclear company — and he’s been an entrepreneur for years. But he seems to really be in his place at Monkey Nest, where employees mingle with him just like any other co-worker.
Morning Brew, Lunch Munch and Late Night Coffee
If you spend enough time there, like I do, you’ll probably notice how the coffee shop changes through the day. In the mornings, many people stop by for a breakfast sandwich and coffee. Then the vibe shifts as people bring clients in for meetings and the lunch crowd begins to arrive. Soon, students start trickling in, and they often stay late into the night sipping coffee and studying. Monkey Nest also has a conference room which a lot of local book clubs and other social groups use as a cozy meeting spot.
It’s easy to see why Koros has been so successful. He stuck to his vision of providing excellent products and services — and he never stopped listening to customers. Now, a second Monkey Nest location has opened up near the University of Texas.
I love it when someone like Koros adds value to our community and reaps the rewards of success. Lucky break? Forget it. Koros created his own good luck by giving our community the best coffee in Austin and a dearly loved gathering place we can call our own. Thanks Koros – this Salted Caramel Latte is for you!