Winning Coffee Co. Brews Tradition in Alburquerque

Winning CoffeeHouse front

Aileen O'Catherine

Tucked in nearby the University of New Mexico's south end of campus, the Brick Light District has a number of new shops and restaurants setting up nearby a long-standing local favorite, Winning Coffee Co.

The Brick Light District has long been a haven for UNM students, though recently it has pulled in more and more restaurants that cater to a quick bite. The streets of Central along Harvard, Cornell and Yale make up the small district, with trendy shops such as Frock Star Vintage Clothing, and restaurants that cater to student budgets, to include Which Wich?, Bricklight Dive Restaurant and the very popular restaurants Rasoli's and El Patio. 

Part of the Neighborhood

Located on Harvard just off of Central, Winning Coffee Co. is part of the mix and is a great place to tap into your inner bohemian. Winning has long been a spot for students to stop off and pick up a sandwich or a cup of Joe at a reasonable cost. It's within walking distance of the dorms and campus, and the outdoor patio is a great place to relax and meet friends when the weather is fine. But Winning pulls in locals as well, those who go out of their way for a chai tea while meeting with a user group, or those looking for a cup of coffee while working off the wifi.

You're just as likely to see a university professor--or retired professor--as you are a student. Unlike Satellite and Flying Star, it tends to be less crowded, a big reason in and of itself to set up your computer and work. ​

The shop has full glass windows for those who choose to sit inside, making for a bright and light-filled atmosphere. Seating choices range from the large comfy couch to a large or small table. The open layout creates a lively but mellow vibe, and customers from all walks of life feel at home. An open bookcase filled with books provides reading material for anyone interested in setting a while. 

 Coffeehouse and Cafe

Winning is a coffeehouse, but it's a cafe as well. Ask for their menu (it isn't posted), which features breakfast items served all day, and lunch items that revolve mainly around sandwiches. Breakfast specialties include Huevos de Harvard, beans and rice on flour or corn tortillas, topped with three eggs, cheese, chile, and salsa or sour cream; or the Vegan Garden Burrito, which includes potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, and guacamole. 

Lunch caters to the sandwich set, with deli classics such as turkey, pastrami and roast beef. There's a veggie burger on the menu as well, and specialties that include Gado Gado ($6.99), a dish with rice noodles and sauteed veggies in a peanut sauce with a hard-boiled egg on the side.

Vegan and Vegetarian Options

For those with dietary restrictions, vegan and vegetarian options are always available. Gluten-free items are on the menu as well. Winning notes on their menu that they can accommodate special requests and create your own menu items, if at all possible. Be aware they reserve the right to charge for non-menu items as they deem possible.

Free Refills on the Coffee

The coffee is fresh and accessible, whether you want a simple cup of joe or a specialty espresso. Your cup of coffee or tea goes a long way with free refills, an increasingly rare achievement these days. You'll find the usual mix of pastries and bagels, all in around the two-to-four dollar range.

 A Catalytic Coffeehouse

Some of what makes Winning so different is the way it is run. Originally established by Rob Winning, who had run the Galisteo News in Santa Fe, the cafe opened in the 1990s with two other partners. The coffeehouse took over the Wolfe's Bagels that was located there. In 2003, the original owners passed the torch to the current trio of owners, who sought to preserve the idea of a catalytic coffeehouse.

Winning has now merged with an experimental theater company which owns and operates the coffeehouse. In short, you've encountered socialism in operation. All owners and workers are paid alike, and all have the same stake in making things work as efficiently as possible. Because the theater is part of the coffeehouse, it's a bit of a local arts venue. Expect to see postings about upcoming productions while sipping your tea, or to see rotating art on the walls.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Bradley's Books operates from behind the counter in the big room. Pick up a book or trade one in.

Location: 111 Harvard SE

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