Why we need a Trader Joe's in Austin
Coffee is yet another reason why we need a Trader Joe's in Austin, thus in Texas.
Trader Joe's is an interesting place to shop for sure, when I lived in the East Bay of SF, i went there often. Some great prices on some things, but, though their coffee may be decent...it can't possibly beat Anderson's for quality or freshness...which, of course, are related. Beans start their decline immediately after roasting and in a couple weeks, well, they are no longer really fresh. Trader Joe can't possibly beat Anderson's at that game, sorry. Prices *might* be comparable, I can't recall, but compared to most boutique roasters, Anderson's prices are a steal. That's why I stopped roasting my own, aside from the stench. Most decent roasters are 3-4 bucks over Anderson's these days.
So, get the cheese, nuts and wine at TJ's, but, in Austin, Anderson's is still number one for roasting what I consider to be the freshest coffee beans... by the way, they learned roasting from Alfred Peet in Berkeley, back in the early 70s or so...so they have some experience at this. Sorry, i doubt they have free wi-fi, though. You have to go to Louie Mueller's in Taylor for that! Oh, that's another thread.
I take a 2-tier approach to coffee. I do agree with you about the first tier, being close to Anderson's. (I lived in the east bay too, so I know what the deal is with Peet and even made some pretty good dough on their stock a couple years back.) But, when I'm not making coffee for myself I'm satisfying the Jones of my wife, whose taste buds were ruined long ago when they started making the sweetener in the blue packets. HER favorite is Bay Blend from TJ's, so when I fly to California or the east coast (or now Atlanta) for gigs I bring an extra suitcase and load it up.
Why you don't: Market Central.
I live in Minneapolis, but have in-laws in Houston. We are lucky to have an embarassment of riches in the way of grocery and wine stores here, much like HEB's market central (which has a great coffee and tea selection).
When the TJ's opened here a few months ago, I went. I haven't been to one since I travelled to California extensively years ago. It was a crushing disappointment. I remember it as a collection of quirky imported gems and a huge selection of interesting artisanal wines. This one looked like what it now is: an Aldi, with all of its weird house branded stuff - some good, some junk. And the wine selection was abysmal and not really that cheap. I am planning on a long rant on the Midwest board in the next day or so lamenting what TJ's has become, compared to how other local stores have risen to the challenge.
Enjoy what you have, and don't think that TJ's grass is necessarily any greener.