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Keep SA Local: Pair your coffee with ammo or a gigantic cream puff at Texas Grounds Coffee Company

Jennifer Howard, a former teacher, makes cream puffs the size of burgers. Phillip Santillanes, an Air Force veteran, knew how to brew the perfect cup of coffee.

HELOTES, Texas — What happens when two neighbors turned best friends open a coffee shop? The short answer is magic. 

Jennifer Howard, a former teacher, makes cream puffs the size of burgers. Phillip Santillanes, an Air Force veteran, learned how to brew the perfect cup of coffee at home.

"We got to talking, we were in the middle of the street, and we found a shared interest in connecting people over a great cup of coffee," Howard said.

The two put their talents together and opened Texas Grounds Coffee Company in 2018, where you can get ammo by the pound in Helotes. 

When the pandemic hit, their small business wasn't spared. They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and got to work. 

"Phil and I didn't see failure as an option," Howard said. "We worked harder, we opened longer hours, we opened more days of the week. We're here like 24/7! But when you find your actual passion, it's no longer a job."

Howard said they continued to embrace connection by sharing their product with the community. Their coffee is also shipped across the country.

"When the pandemic first hit, we turned to our wholesaling business," Howard said. "We wholesale to more businesses, churches, coffee shops and we're selling coffee online."

Howard said people can create their own unique blend of coffee at their shop. Many use this opportunity to raise money for different fundraising events or to promote their own business.

"They come to what's called a coffee cupping," Howard said. "They tell us what they like, we roast it right in front of them and they get to leave with a bag of freshly roasted coffee."

Right now, they have two coffee blends dedicated to first responders. All proceeds from the Defend Blend and Roll Call support local police and fire departments. 

It's uncertain what this new year has in store, but with a committed team and loyal customers, Howard is fiercely optimistic about their future. 

"Our mission and where we want to go is to put a cup of Texas Grounds Coffee in the hands of every Texans," Howard said. 

Texas Grounds Coffee Company is located at 14359 Old Bandera Road in Helotes. It's open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. It also has a bed and breakfast that can be reserved through AirBnB. For more details, you can visit the shop's website.