Food & Drink
High-Quality Coffee and Delicious Bites
UPDATE: Momentum Coffee is permanently closed as of April 3, 2020.
Tucked into a corner shopping center on Rayford Road near the Grand Parkway, Momentum Coffee Shop has been serving up superior speciality coffee since November 2016. Owned and managed by Allen Leibowitz, Tia Hoffman and Ethan Elms, it is evident from your first step inside that these three really care what is served to their customers. They can even tell you where their coffee beans were grown, roasted, and packaged.
The cozy space offers a small covered patio in the front of the building. Upon walking in, you will find a simple and modern space with clean lines, contemporary lighting, and a long marble bar where you can sit and watch your baristas in action. Choose from a cup of drip coffee, cafe au lait, cold brew, espresso, Americano, flat whites, lattes, mochas, iced coffee drinks, blended lattes – and even smoothies, lemonade and an array of teas. The seasonal specialty drink menus changes, with the current summer offerings including Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Cold Brew Malt, Lavender Matcha Lemonade and Blended Root Beer Chai.
At Momentum, it is clear that the owners and baristas all have a substantial knowledge of all things coffee.
Allen holds the title of master roaster and is a leading coffee industry consultant, as well as a Certified Lead Instructor for the SCAA (Speciality Coffee Association of America), a former chair of the Roasters Guild and a Licensed Q-Grader. Allen believes there is something always to be learned about coffee.
Tia is a seasoned barista, with credentialing as a Lead Instructor for the Specialty Coffee Association and she leads the Coffee Education Training Program. Recently she attended the CIA in Napa Valley and earned the illy Coffee – Artisti del Gusto (artists of taste) certification.
Allen and Tia have traveled the world looking for and learning about the best coffee and brewing techniques.
Last but not least is co-owner and barista extraordinaire Ethan Elms. Starting out in the service industry when he opened a snow cone stand at the age of 15, Ethan began his coffee career at Whole Foods and transitioning to Greenway Coffee in Houston. Luckily for us on the north side, you will find him making coffee perfection at Momentum Coffee.
Three coffee rockstars at one little mom and pop coffee shop is a winning combination.
Momentum in its early days only had a few food items like croissants, danishes, cookies and standard coffee house pastries; however, they have recently added a full breakfast and lunch menu as well as a few brunch items with rotating weekend specials such as eggs benedict, strawberry scones and graham toast granola with candied peaches. Breakfast brings you choices of avocado toast, breakfast bowls, assortment of pastries and breakfast tacos. Lunch has some great options including sandwiches, tacos and salads. There are some weekend only items such as Cubano, Caprese or Chicken Salad sandwiches which are definitely worth checking out. Feeling healthy? Try the Acai and Chia Pudding (acai puree layered between almond milk chia topped with honey, fruit, and pumpkin seeds) or a Green Momentum Smoothie made with banana, pineapple, spinach, kale and coconut milk (almond or soy also available).
Hello Woodlands sat down with Allen, Ethan and Tia to ask about Momentum and the coffee industry:
How did the partnership come about to opening Momentum Coffee?
Allen: “Tia met Ethan when they worked together opening a new coffee bar in the Woodlands. At the same time there was a sign for a ‘coming development’ here on Rayford. We liked the plans because it had a drive-thru and we could build out to our design.”
How does one earn a title of “Master Roaster” and what does that entail? You’ve been a coffee roaster – what’s your background in roasting and will you be roasting for Momentum?
Allen: “I started to roast professionally in 2003 and have probably roasted over a million pounds of coffee. I also continue to teach roasting classes a few times a year. Recently in Dallas and Dubai. It’s a different business than Momentum and I’m thrilled to be able to use coffee from other colleagues.”
Both of you [Allen & Tia] have traveled extensively to learn your trade. Tell us about your coffee travels and education.
Tia: “Visiting the Daterra farm in Brazil was the turning point for me to see what the term ‘seed to cup’ actually looks like. Literally from seedlings in the nursery to what we drink at Momentum. Watching all the processes that take to enjoy your morning cup of coffee inspired me to become an educator. I wanted to share that excitement and knowledge with everyone.”
Allen: “There’s something new to learn about coffee every day. Travel and education give you an appreciation and opportunity to see how many people are involved in coffee. At all levels. You can be at an industry event and meet a fourth generation farmer and someone who’s thinking about opening a café.”
What sets your specialty coffee shop apart from the national chains?
Ethan: “Aside from using higher quality coffee and ingredients, Momentum is distinguished by its focus on customer service, modern décor, and fresh food options.”
What traits make a great Barista?
Ethan: “Our baristas have great time management skills, high attention to detail, and a passion for getting to know our guests by serving them daily.”
What kind/brand of coffee does Momentum use?
“Momentum currently serves Madcap coffee from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Currently we are serving Summer Solstice, a blend of natural and washed Ethiopians for drip coffee, and Third Coast, a blend of Colombian and Ethiopian coffees for espresso. However, we do consider ourselves a multi-roaster café, so we bring in coffee from other roasters when we find coffee we love.”
What was the inspiration on some of the most popular menu items?
Tia: “Some parts of the menu were items that were etched in our memory as all-time favorites – like the lemon ricotta pancakes and avocado toast. We look for great tasting ingredients first – like Gruyere cheese from France or 5-year cheddar from Wisconsin. We get bread from a local baker, Cake and Bacon, who has a similar commitment to quality.”
What is on your weekend brunch menu and the brunch hours?
Allen: “Brunch is 8am-2pm on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to much of our weekly menu, we have lemon-ricotta pancakes with a blueberry compote; a tomato and egg tart with basil and bacon; as well as a special that changes.”
Who is the Chef at Momentum Coffee?
Tia: “Arturo Rodriguez is our chef. His background is perfect for our menu and pastry. He is creative and also has a keen eye for consistency. Arturo works closely with Ethan who has a gifted palate and has worked on many of our most popular specials. He’s always driving us to make as many ingredients in house as possible.”
Do you all bake in house and what kind of assortment of baked goods do you carry?
Tia: “Our lovely bread comes from Cake and Bacon. We bake our 9-grain croissant with dough from Canada, our Crown Danish is from Belgium.”
What are Momentum Coffee’s signature beverages?
Allen: “Our lavender matcha latte is a favorite. We make the syrup in house starting with organic French lavender petals. The floral aspect is subtle and goes incredibly well with matcha (powdered green tea).
I love our Vietnamese Iced Coffee. We make it with espresso and it’s great to drink on a hot day. It starts off quite strong and changes as the ice melts. I like taking it in the car with me.
Our Mocha is also pretty special. It’s made with a very special powdered chocolate from Callebaut from Belgium. It’s not too sweet and you can taste coffee and chocolate. In the summer, I like this blended with ice.”
What do you have for the non-coffee drinkers?
Ethan: “I have developed a menu that incorporates both great coffee, and plenty of options for those who don’t drink coffee. Our daily tea menu, which is exclusively Rishi teas, has been carefully curated to include versatile options that are not only great hot, but can also be made into iced teas for hot days or tea lattes for when somebody wants a little more substance. We sourced locally made Kombucha from Bayou City Bucha. Additionally, we always include coffee free items on our seasonal menus; this summer we are offering Lavender Matcha Lemonade, and my personal favorite, which is a Blended Root Beer Chai Latte.”
Is Momentum Coffee kid friendly and what do you have for the younger ones?
Tia: “Families are always welcome. We have high-chairs and lots of kid friendly drinks including a special hot chocolate made with our Belgian chocolate and a splash of vanilla – steamed to ‘kids temp.’ Furry family members are also welcome on the patio.”
What are your hours for dine-in and drive-thru?
Allen: “We are open Monday-Friday 7:00am – 4:00pm and Saturday-Sunday 8:00am – 5:00pm. The kitchen is open until 2:00pm. Pastries all day.”
How does Momentum Coffee try to be environmental conscious in their everyday operations? Do you use sustainable products?
Ethan: “From using high efficiency LED lighting to offering ceramic ware for ‘for here’ service, we do strive to minimize our impact on the environment. We have attempted to reduce our use of disposables where possible, and many of our disposables are recyclable and made of recycled material.”
Do you have any organic options, gluten free options or vegan options?
Allen: “We do have menu items that are either gluten free or an be made so (kale and beet salad, breakfast tacos using corn tortillas.) Our breakfast bowl is fantastic and can be made vegan by omitting the cheese. Just ask us!”
What are your future plans for Momentum Coffee? Expansion? More locations?
Tia: “Expansion into the evening hours has always been part of the project. We designed the space to be able serve cocktails, beer and wine. We’ve been approached by a couple of developers over the last year about another location but no plans yet. We’re also now offering catered coffee and private events at Momentum. We’ve done lots of offices. Our largest events have been for 500.”
5 Words to describe Momentum Coffee?
Delicious, friendly, communal, beautiful, disc-bathroom-lights.
UPDATE: Momentum Coffee is permanently closed as of April 3, 2020.
Nick Rama is a food writer, contributor of Hello Woodlands, and shares his restaurant experiences on Nick’s Local Eats at NicksLocalEats.com and the Q Up The Burgers Facebook page. Nick enjoys helping the small business owner, supporting his community with fundraising for food banks, and plans tasting events with locally owned mom and pop restaurants.