Until recently, options for getting a cup of true specialty coffee were rare in the Houston area.

But at the beginning of the year, Texas County resident Justin Scholz opened a business that certainly offers the real thing. Called Coffee Concepts, the shop is set up inside New Concepts Salon & Spa, a business Scholz’ mother JoAnn Adey and his aunt,Cheryl Pounds, have run on Grand Avenue for many years.

Using an ornate copper and brass CMA Astoria espresso machine (special ordered from Italy), Scholz offers all the popular hot coffee types, including café lattes, flavored lattes and mochas. He also serves up numerous styles of cold coffee drinks, hot and cold teas, and is considering adding food choices to his menu.

Scholz gets his coffee from a distributor in Georgia.

“They roast their own beans,” he said, “and I grind all of mine right here.”

Scholz is a graduate of Houston High School and now lives in the High Town area with his wife, Carmen, and two kids (Zander, 9, and Jaelyn, 5). He worked in the construction field before starting his coffee business, and got some experience making specialty coffee helping his father run a small shop similar to Coffee Concepts when he and Carmen moved to Arizona for a while In 2005.

“I’ve done a lot of studying here in the last six months researching things out,” he said. “I feel like I was ready to get this going.”

Scholz, 32, said he intends to keep his pricing at a level that makes his coffee affordable to most people.

“I’m pretty low on my costs,” he said. “I know how these specialty coffee places are – you go there and spend six bucks on a medium whatever. I didn’t want to undermine myself, but I also didn’t want to overprice things.”

So far, business hasn’t been bad for Scholz, but he plans to expand awareness of Coffee Concepts’ existence and make sure everyone understands that it’s not just for salon clientele.

“All the bad winter weather hasn’t helped, but it’s rolling along,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know I’m here yet because I haven’t had a grand opening yet or done any advertising. I wanted to get my routine down before that so I’d really be prepared.”

Not only is Scholz an aspiring coffee entrepreneur, he’s also an artist, proficient in oil and acrylic painting. He specializes in landscape scenes, and several of his pieces are displayed on the walls inside New Concepts.

“I love doing it,” Scholz said. “If I’m not here making coffee or working at my other part-time job, I’m usually painting.”

He began painting during his middle school years, gaining interest in the craft by watching his grandmother.

“I was getting pretty good at it back then, but then I left it alone,” Scholz said. “In the past year or so, I picked up the paint brush again and did a lot of reading to learn about the different oils and mediums. I’ve been throwing out a lot of paintings lately.”

Coffee Concepts is open 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call Scholz at 417-967-6278.

“It would really be exciting for me to have people come in and try it out,” Scholz said. “I’m always open to suggestions and I appreciate every compliment I get. So far, I haven’t had a bad comment, but every time I hear something, it helps me sit back and think about things I need to do more or differently.

“I pray everyone who comes here will be pleased, but if not, I’ll do my best to make sure they’re happy with their service.”

I know how these specialty coffee places are – you go there and spend six bucks on a medium whatever. I didn’t want to undermine myself, but I also didn’t want to overprice things.”

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