When asked why they decided to open a coffee shop, real estate broker and owner of Integrity Real Estate, Eric Linder quickly replied, “We love coffee!”
Coffee and commitment are something Eric and Melodie Linder know a lot about. The couple from Indiana and Ohio respectively, came to Texas more than 36 years ago. Thirty-four years and six daughters later, they will proudly celebrate the fourth anniversary of 4141 Coffeehouse Café Saturday, Feb. 15.
The real story, according to Melodie, goes back to a commitment they made to themselves as a couple.
She said, “Every day when he’d get home from work, we’d have coffee time together. We booted the kids out of the room – just me and him. At least 30 minutes every day after he got off work was our time together.”
As for the coffeehouse, Linder said, “We really wanted to do this and there was nothing like it in Navasota at the time.”
Son-in-law Justin Sanchez and Linder devoted hours to research and found a plethora of information, some good and some not so good. The pair even considered going to school.
He said, “Finding good beans is critical and we feel like we did that with Independence Coffee Company. They roast their beans the way we like.”
Independence Coffee Company, located in Bren-ham, was established in 2001 and credits their name to their “independent style of deep-roasting which pays respect to old-school roasting methods and traditions.”
Linder continued, “If you’re not starting with good roasted beans, you’re not going to get as good a cup of coffee. Once you get the beans, you have to take it to the next step. You have to know how to grind them. I’ll put my coffee up against espresso anytime.”
Linder said, “When we began, we knew nothing about being baristas. Basically, we knew how to make drip coffee, Folger’s for instance. Now we’re as spoiled as can be when it comes to coffee. When we go on trips, it’s hard for us to find coffee as good as this.”
Melodie laughed and said, “We’ve become coffee snobs.”
Linder continued, “We always look for the ma and pa kind of shops because we know we’ll probably tend to like theirs better, but they’re hard to find.”
After the departure of Sanchez, who was once voted Grimes County’s Best Barista, Linder is working on perfecting his ‘latte art.’
He said, “It doesn’t change the taste but presentation matters, as it does in anything.”
According to Lendio, a small business loan marketplace, of the 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S. in 2019, 54% were mom and pop businesses and their importance is undeniable. Local restaurants return more than twice as much money per sales dollar to the local economy than national chains and they “create neighborhoods, enhance a sense of community, carry on local traditions and contribute to local causes that big businesses just can’t.”
But they aren’t without their challenges. When asked the upside and downside of family-owned and operated, Linder said, “Your family has an automatic job if they want it. Your family has an automatic job if they don’t want it!”
Melodie said, “The real downside is we can’t go on vacation without closing.”
The Linders are working on hiring additional employees, but unlike real estate, the reality is “you have to be there.”
On the upside, being there means getting to know your neighbors – and their coffee preferences!
Melodie said, “I love that! I had been here 39 years and didn’t know hardly anybody.”
And with quintessential ‘mom and pop’ charm, the couple knows just what their regulars mean when they say, ‘the usual.’ Melodie chalks their abilities up to time, saying it takes a couple of visits to associate a face with a drink.
The Linders love visitors to Navasota, especially those from places like France, Germany, Jerusalem, New Zealand and the UK who found 4141 through Yelp or Trip Advisor.
Linder said, “People are looking for a good coffee place,” and proudly added that his espresso shots have held their own when compared to those from other countries.
Expanded menu, services
Since it opened four years ago with coffee, homemade breakfast tacos and sandwiches, 4141 has added homemade soups, fresh salads with chicken smoked inhouse and Nathan’s quarter pound hot dogs. Their steeped tea is fresh, and Linder said of their lemonade, “We don’t squeeze it till you order it.”
For their customers on-the-go, orders may be placed via text or voicemail and 4141 provides curbside delivery. In addition, for an order of $10 or more, for just one penny, 4141 will deliver to homes or businesses within a two-mile radius.
For those who like their coffee outside, winter patio dining was made more comfortable with an outdoor heater. A red wooden train engine with a working air horn and bell provides fun for kids of all ages.
Soon to come is a gift shop featuring imprinted 4141 gift items, and while Integrity Real Estate will remain on the premises, new decor will make it less visible.
Summing up 34 years as husband, wife and business partners 24/7, Linder said, “Anything worth something takes work.”
And the Linders’ message to coffee drinkers? “If you want a good cup of coffee, a place to sit and relax, do some work, read a book, visit with friends – 4141 Coffeehouse is a good place to hang out.”
4141 Coffeehouse Café is located at 215 S. La-Salle. Text orders to (936) 825-3161 or online at www.4141coffeehouse.com. Café hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Delivery available Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.