‘We’re Dedicated To Our Art’: Coffee, Hemp & Tea Finding Its Place In State College Community
Nia and Angel Rodriguez are teammates and supporters of others at their cores. The couple, together for nearly 17 years now, opened their first business, “Coffee, Hemp & Tea,” after helping to facilitate and forward the openings of several other businesses throughout their careers.
Coffee, Hemp & Tea is located at 313 W. Foster Ave., and specializes in high-quality, locally-sourced beverages and an assortment of CBD and Delta-8 products, combining Nia and Angel’s passions in one.
“It’s the first of its kind. It’s the first of its kind where we can actually incorporate hemp into your drink if you’d like us to,” Nia said.
Inspired by a two-week employment stint in a Pittsburgh coffee shop before moving to State College, Nia learned quickly that brewing excellent coffee and teas for others is what she was meant to do. So after assisting a handful of friends open their own marijuana dispensaries, she decided to open her dream coffee shop with a twist.
She was influenced by coffee from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Pittsburgh, and now brews beans from Commonplace Coffee and Prestogeorge in Pittsburgh, while in the midst of creating new relationships with local roasters at Cafe Lemont.
“We try to make things as local and as little preservatives as possible,” Nia said. “We try to get our things locally sourced.”
All of Coffee, Hemp, & Tea’s hemp products are grown at Rhodes Farm in Clinton County and, in addition to hemp-infused drinks, the shop sells CBD gummies, brownies, bubblegum, flowers, and dog treats.
Though the Rodriguezes are firm in their beliefs to acquire goods locally, the couple also imports coffee beans from Hacienda Muñoz in Puerto Rico, which is local to Angel.
“The farm is about three miles away from my high school,” Angel said. “He has a prize-winning coffee that won People’s Choice in Puerto Rico. It’s hand-picked and there’s no machinery. You know, that’s beautiful.”
Angel does lots of work to connect with farmers in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador to expand small farmers’ work into the United States and into his own business. He also handcrafted nearly the entire storefront, from the counters and the bookshelf to the bar and the floors.
Meanwhile, Nia brainstorms, crafts, and perfects specialty coffee and tea flavors like Neopolitan, cherry jubilee, maple bacon, ice cream sandwich, watermelon mint, and more.
Nia prioritizes a certain freshness to Coffee, Hemp & Tea’s products, meaning many of its offerings are seasonal to make the most efficient use of transient fruits and produce. However, the couple made sure to point out that customers will always receive first-rate drinks, no matter the season.
“It takes us a little bit longer to do some of the things because we want to make sure that it tastes right,” Angel said. “We’re not fast food. We say we’re kind of slow food, but not too slow. We want to make sure you’re getting a quality drink.”
Nia explained that it typically takes around four to five minutes to craft a drink at their shop because she refuses to use a drip coffee system in order to only produce crisp, clean, and purely fresh beverages.
Right now, two of Coffee, Hemp & Tea’s specialty beverages are café con leche and Indian desi masala chai tea. The café con leche, an espresso and milk mixture, follows a recipe created and passed down by Angel’s grandmother and great-grandmother. The desi masala chai was inspired by one of the Rodriguezes partners, who owns a chai business in India and taught Angel how to replicate the beverage.
“We don’t cut the corners,” Angel said. “We don’t do anything like that because it’s traditional to them and we want to respect that.”
As the fall semester and football season inch closer and closer, the couple discussed the change of pace in State College folks’ lives and how many customers may not have the time to wait the allotted four to five minutes for a drink from the Rodriguezes. Because of that, Coffee, Hemp & Tea will also offer cold brew pouches that will be stocked for grab-and-go scenarios like on the way to class or a gameday.
“It’s like having a coffee Capri-Sun,” Nia said.
Throughout the last several months, the couple has enjoyed settling into the State College community and curating craft beverages for the Holmes-Foster neighborhood.
“We haven’t even had our grand opening yet and people already know who we are, which feels amazing,” Nia said.
The store’s grand opening is set for Saturday, August 19, though it’s been open since April.
Coffee, Hemp & Tea is currently open Tuesday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a daily afternoon closure from 2 to 4:30 p.m. As Penn State students return to State College for the beginning of the fall semester, Nia and Angel are anticipating adding an additional day of operation on Mondays, too.
Moreover, the couple is excited to work toward incorporating Caribbean and Puerto Rican cuisine in an outdoor kitchen setting on Saturdays.
“We look for those people that are dedicated to their art. We’re dedicated to our art, our team,” Angel said.
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