After spending nearly a decade studying biochemistry, Pearland resident Weihong Zhang abandoned his career working in the pharmacology department at the Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center to pursue his real passion: specialty coffee.
“I want more people to have the chance to get into specialty coffee—to actually know specialty coffee,” he said.
Zhang opened BlendIn Coffee Club in Sugar Land on Nov. 17, but the journey began two years prior in Tempe, Arizona, where a public cupping event was held at local cafe Infusion Coffee and Tea, Zhang said.
“Cupping is basically a way of tasting coffee,” he said. “It’s like wine tasting but for coffee.”
In Arizona, Zhang sampled coffee brewed from beans farmed in Africa. He was amazed coffee could taste so good, he said.
Shortly after that event, Zhang left his job to learn about coffee from Patrick O’Malley, Infusion Coffee and Tea owner and a coffee expert who is certified by the Specialty Coffee Association—the top authority on high-quality coffee, Zhang said.
The SCA scores coffee on a 0-to-100 scale based on aspects, such as fragrance, aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, balance and body. Those that score 80 points or more are considered specialty coffee, Zhang said.
“We [at BlendIn]care about our coffee beans,” he said. “All of our coffee beans are scored at least [at]85 points.”
Zhang sources all his coffee either directly from the coffee farms or from importers, which allows him to trace his products to specific plots on the farms where the beans grow, he said.
Zhang typically hosts free cupping events every Friday and regularly teaches SCA-certified classes on subjects, such as brewing, roasting, barista skills and green coffee.
Zhang said he decided to open BlendIn in Sugar Land because he feels it is an underserved community when it comes to coffee options.
“There are more people [in downtown Houston], but I believe coffee should be a destination point,” he said. “It’s the whole idea that we want to promote coffee quality instead of just selling by volume.”
BlendIn Coffee Club
8410 Hwy. 90A, Sugar Land
Hours: Mon – Sun: 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.