From Milan to Houston
Give a big Texas-size welcome to Clutch Town Coffee, run by Daniel Albelice in Houston. Born in Milan, where coffee is a staple of life, it’s no surprise he and his family have spent years in the coffee business. In Milan, coffee was everywhere all the time. Later when his family moved to the States, they brought the coffee connection with them.
After they moved to the States, his father began an import business of coffee and coffee machines from Italy. He imported Danesi coffee from Rome and Rancilio espresso machines. By the 90’s, he had established himself as one of the bigger importers of Italian coffee. And, mind you, this was before the days of Starbucks.
Daniel spent about 15 years working in their coffee import business, so he was around many different Italian coffee companies. Distributing and working trade shows with companies such as Mocafe, Big Train, Monin, Rishi as well as other brands, gave him a pretty good understanding of how the coffee distribution system worked.
Cold Brew for Intense Sports
Meanwhile, Daniel began competing as an NPC bodybuilder, and began enjoying cold brew drinks mixed with sugar free flavorings and supplements. They were flavorful, zero calorie and packed 465mg of caffeine per bottle. It was an ideal way to keep the brain and body going during periods of contest prep dieting and intense training. He could fuel his workouts while keeping calories low.
The cold brew infused with sports specific supplements became part of their large import business. They decided on the name Clutch Town Coffee to be connected to Houston and the sports scene, and boy were they connected to the Houston sports scene! They worked with the Astros, the SaberCats (Houston rugby team), and plenty of gyms and health-oriented food establishments around Houston. But when it was time for the cold brew part of the infused drink to be tweaked, something more than just a new drink emerged.
A New Kind of Training
After doing the cold brew drinks for a while, Daniel wanted to tweak the roast profile they were using but had no idea where to begin with roasting coffee. He had seen coffee from a local roaster in some of the shops he did business with and decided to reach out to the roaster.
He contacted Bryan at Fort Bend Coffee Roasters and learned a great deal from him. The technique Bryan used on the drum roaster was very different from most of the methods Daniel had seen in the field, using a slow start and aggressive finish gave the roast a truly unique profile.
Eventually Bryan and Daniel partnered up. Fort Bend Coffee moved into Daniel’s facility and they worked together on the roasting division of Daniel’s import company. To this day, Daniel credits Bryan with everything he knows about roasting including paying more for better coffees, working directly with farms that they know the story behind, and just going after a higher quality bean in general.
They started out with a simple idea. Better coffee comes from better relationships. So they pay a fair premium to their farmers for high quality beans, and roast and deliver them locally to ensure those beans don’t go to waste. It’s a difference you can taste in every cup.
The Favored One
Daniel oversees each division of the import company. He makes sure everyone is taken care of, the quality of production is in line and everything is running smoothly. But Clutch Town Coffee is special. It’s his baby. This is where he can do what he wants without thinking about whether or not it will be well received.
It’s also where he gets to be creative. Take the labels for example. You might notice some of them are a little different or off the wall, such as the Texas Pecan with their green body builder logo guy on a western horse. Meanwhile the label on Gianni’s Blend has orange coloring and ribbons in support of pediatric cancer. This blend is extra special – it’s in honor of his son who battled Leukemia at a year old.
The Path Forward
Clutch Town Coffee’s focus has shifted a little since their coffee-sports brew beginning. Now they primarily focus on promoting specialty coffee through their wholesale network. Although they do a little bit of retail on the side, you won’t find bags of their coffee on shelves at grocery stores, retail chains, etc. But where you could find it might really surprise you.
You see, Daniel realized something during the pandemic. The population really grew to appreciate specialty grade coffee when it was no longer available due to the shutdown. So he came up with a way to make higher grade coffee available to everyone in an unexpected place: gas stations. He began working with privately owned gas stations in Houston to promote better coffee. Being able to get high end coffee in a gas station is a really nice concept, isn’t it?
Clutch Town is at the Club
From Milan to Houston, to coffee imports, to specialty cold brew sports drinks, to creative coffee blends bringing awareness to pediatric cancer, to raising the bar for gas station coffee, life has been busy. And now we get to add joining Texas Coffee Club to the list!