On a quiet Friday morning in the Rosewood neighborhood, Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors is bustling with social activity.
Ryan Hall and Kathleen Carmichael
“The one thing that I really love about the shop is that it’s still brand new and the community around it is developing.”Kathleen Carmichael Co-owner of Figure 8
Friends meet around the beautiful copper bar and colleagues sit working on the café’s vintage and handmade furniture along an entire wall of mirrors and touches of greenery.
“The one thing that I really love about the shop is that it’s still brand new and the community around it is developing,” says Kathleen Carmichael, who co-owns Figure 8 with her boyfriend Ryan Hall. “I feel like because we’ve both worked in coffee in Austin for so long, there’s a piece of community that is built in here that has helped support us.”
Figure 8, which opened in August, is a hub for all types of service industry folks — servers, bartenders, line cooks — who stop in for a strong brew before or after work. This community aspect is huge for the pair, who intentionally designed the bar to promote conversation among old and new friends. “The bar can get pretty lively and fun,” says Hall. “I notice that people are constantly meeting each other all morning and afternoon long.”
Opening the café is a result of years of experience and hard work by Hall and Carmichael. The couple has wanted to own an accessible, residential community coffee shop for a long time. By the looks of their Friday crowd, they’re well on their way.
Hall has been a barista since the age of 14 and has managed a variety of places around town including Thunderbird and Houndstooth, racking up close to 20 years of experience.
Hall has been a barista since the age of 14 and has managed a variety of places around town including Thunderbird and Houndstooth, racking up close to 20 years of experience. After graduating with a Masters in psychology and deciding she needed a drastic change, Carmichael also accumulated years of barista and management experience. The couple began dreaming about opening a café soon after meeting. Preferably, it’d be the cute little space Hall had kept his eye on for nearly a decade: a building he used to live next door to. When that space (formerly East Village Café) went up for sale, the two jumped at the opportunity.
They focus on making the time to educate themselves along the way, learning new tricks of the trade and tapping into coffee trends.
Hall and Carmichael plan to increase the café’s engaging feel by opening an outdoor patio and expanding into the space next door. With a desire to grow, they also focus on making the time to educate themselves along the way, learning new tricks of the trade and tapping into coffee trends.
“I am still learning,” says Hall. “After 17 years of this I find myself discovering something that I just didn’t notice before.” He likens it to music, another passion of his: “It’s sort of like listening to a record and then panning all the volume to just one speaker and hearing a guitar lead that you’ve never noticed, even though you’ve listened to that record for 15 years.” Whether it’s observing a different style on dosing or familiarizing themselves with how different machines can subtly change the coffee process, both Hall and Carmichael absorb that knowledge and bring it to Figure 8.
While Figure 8’s owners — currently its only employees — continue to develop the café, Carmichael sums up what’s at the heart of the coffee shop: “At the bare basics, it’s about coffee and the community around it.”
Or, better yet, Hall adds, “a neighborhood coffee joint that also happens to have great coffee.”
Writing: Molly McManus
Photography: Chris Wiley
Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors
1111 Chicon St.
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