By Kailey Shanks |

I’m always looking for cool study spots and coffee shops are my absolute favorite places to work. Luckily, there’s a great assortment here in Waco. I recently talked to the manager of Lighthouse Coffee & Wine, a new addition to the downtown scene.

Joe Brower started as a barista at Common Grounds when he was a Baylor student. 

Eight years later, he sat with me at a table overlooking downtown Waco.  After he draped his coat over his chair, he took in the scene. The espresso machine hissed in the background and faint music played under the chatter and occasional clinking of glasses.

This is Lighthouse, the coffee shop Brower manages and it’s just a few minutes away from where his coffee journey began at Common Grounds.

Brower worked at Common Grounds for 4 years during his time at Baylor. That’s where he grew to love that bustling coffee shop feeling. This August, he started working on Lighthouse. It opened October 26 and it’s one of my favorite places to go.

When I take a sip of coffee, I quickly notice their distinct taste. They run off of a multi-roaster system, meaning they purchase and sell beans from various roasters. Brower said most coffee shops in Waco have gravitated toward being their own roaster, but he wants Lighthouse to continue their unique system. He said it gives the coffee a different flavor. 

Not only does their coffee taste good, but it has the appearance to match. Brower often competes in latte art throw-downs and creates beautiful designs. When you order a drink, try to resist taking a picture – I bet you won’t be able to.  

Lighthouse also has a staff of some of the coolest baristas you will meet. Hayden was brought on the team because of his creativity. He created the brand Loyalhood Syrups, the only syrups served at Lighthouse. I recommend the coconut mint and house syrup. Aydan is a yoga instructor with his own plant business, all while working at Lighthouse. He is a natural conversationalist and Brower said he admires the way he connects with people. The team pours their heart into their craft (pun intended) and have garnered some amazing experiences along the way. 

Brower wants to create a space where people can escape the stresses of life and Lighthouse certainly accomplishes his goal. You can admire the picturesque view of the Alico Building from the patio or open-concept interior. If you’re there in the afternoon, you’ll see how the grand windows do the sunset justice. 

Although Brower is passionate about quality coffee and creating a welcoming environment, it’s not the reason he’s stayed in this business. It’s the real connection he has found with people.

Brower sees people who walk into his coffee shop as more than customers. He said he might not know what’s going on in a customer’s day, but he knows that serving their first cup of coffee can change it for the better. I was lucky enough to witness this contagious Lighthouse spirit in my conversation with Brower. 

Next time you’re in downtown Waco be sure to stop by and say hi to Joe and ask him for a cappuccino. You’ll see a work of art in not just in your coffee, but also in the environment he has created.