EDINBURG — H-E-B Park bustled with energy Friday night, fueled by a caffeinated crowd getting a taste of what several local coffee shops have to offer.

Local coffee vendors came together for Coffee Crawl, an event that is the first of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley and that featured entertainment as well as a variety of other vendors offering food, jewelry and apparel.

“With the pandemic and everything, we know that people were struggling so we’re hoping that this event will help promote their businesses,” said Julie Vasquez of Golden Grape Entertainment, the marketing arm of H-E-B Park, the RGV Toros and the Vipers. “We know that a lot of people started new businesses during the pandemic so they’re out here now, showing what they did, showing everybody their talent, getting to sell.”

“We’re just happy to be a part of it and we hope we can do this again next year and for years to come,” Vasquez added.

Jitterz Coffee barista Israel Sanchez concentrates on the design from the steamed milk during Coffee Crawl at H-E-B Park on Friday in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

When Maryann Pinon opened Grind Coffee in 2016, she said there wouldn’t be enough local coffee brewers to be able to have an event like this.

“From five years ago to right now, it’s grown and that’s why we want to continue to be a part of community events like this that shine light on the delicacies of coffee and the flavors and just open people’s eyes,” Pinon said.

Pinon was motivated to open the Edinburg-based coffee shop when she was a student at then-University of Texas-Pan American and couldn’t find a place off-campus to study.

“I would drive all the way to Mission to go hang out at Jitterz and then I would end up skipping my classes,” she said.

Bourbon flavor iced coffee from Jitterz Coffee is seen during Coffee Crawl at H-E-B Park on Friday in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

An event like Coffee Crawl, Pinon said, allows them to connect with, not just the public, but also with other coffee brewers in the community.

“It’s really important the we support each other because no one’s ever not going to want to stop at a coffee shop,” Pinon said. “You want to be able to support everyone for any sort of needs that they have. That’s the culture that I’m trying to develop with different coffee shops that I partner with and that I work with.”

Israel Sanchez, the head roaster for Jitterz Coffee Roasters in Mission agreed that it was important to connect with people.

“It not only puts our name out there, but we’re able to connect with a lot of other businesses in our community, which I think is super important to create community amongst what we do,” Sanchez said.

Sergio Trevino, co-owner of Black Honey Coffee & Bakery, used to work for Jitterz several years ago and, at the time, there would be times when the shop would be completely empty.

“Coffee just wasn’t a thing,” he said. “You go to Austin and bigger places, it’s cool, but here it wasn’t a thing and it’s so tight to see how it’s built up into something like this.”

The Grind serves tasty coffee during Coffee Crawl at H-E-B Park on Friday in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

But the significance of coffee and local coffee shops is not just limited to serving people with a unique cup of joe, according to Sirheem Fuentes, a co-owner of Black Honey Coffee, who believes the growth of the coffee community in the Valley can serve as an inspiration for other people to create.

“People don’t think that they can do something out of the norm and then when they see someone pop up with something like this, coffee that’s kind of bold, they think, ‘You know what? I can do something bold, I can have a different idea and people will support me because the community is here,'” Fuentes said.

“We are creating the ideas, we’re building the community and we’re kind of saying ‘What do we want to see?’ and that’s happening a lot,” she said. “Other things are blossoming around each coffee shop and it’s really cool to see.”

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