Aggie-Owned Coffee Roaster Serves Up Texas-Inspired Drinks At Three Campus Locations
When Steve Turner decided to name his company Polite Coffee Roasters, he knew he would have to work hard to earn that title.
“You really have to live up to that reputation — be friendly, and kind of let that permeate through everything you do,” says the 32-year-old Army veteran, father of two and 2017 graduate of Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.
Fittingly, his locally roasted coffee is now on sale at his alma mater.
Turner envisioned Polite Coffee as a love letter to his home state and the people who inhabit it. There’s a genuine friendliness that permeates Texas, he said, and nowhere is that more true than in College Station.
Starting this semester, he’s partnered with Aggie Dining to bring Polite Coffee to three different locations on the Texas A&M campus; Aggies can now purchase cups of Polite Coffee at ILCB’s Market at Lamar St., the Blocker Building’s On The Go, and the Bush School’s 41st Club.
For Turner, who owns the Bryan-based company alongside business partner and fellow A&M graduate Barry Ivins ’01, working with the university feels like a natural fit. The duo currently operate Polite’s flagship coffee shop in the former home of legendary A&M dean and athletics manager E.J. Kyle, the namesake of A&M’s football stadium.
“It’s a really cool way to honor the legacy of this place, and what Kyle did for our school,” said Turner, a long-time Aggie football fan whose grandfather attended A&M as a member of the Corps of Cadets. “And it’s an actual house, so what better way to personify our brand than welcoming people into that kind of setting.”
Fueling Fellow Aggies
Recently, Turner has been back on campus pursuing a master’s in international affairs from the Bush School of Government and Public Service. Since rolling out the partnership with Aggie Dining, he said it’s been a little surreal to see his classmates and professors sipping his coffee and carrying cups stamped with Polite’s cowboy hat logo.
“(At A&M), you have students who are going to put people on Mars, they’re going to develop technologies for the future, they’re going to be in the classroom teaching our future generations,” Turner said. “To get to be a part of their day is huge to us.”
For Turner, it’s also a striking reminder of how far he’s come since teaching himself to roast coffee beans in a barn behind his home in Normangee, reading books and watching YouTube videos to refine his craft.
Today, the company offers more than 20 different varieties for every taste and preference, with even more on the way. As Turner puts it, “we’re always tinkering with stuff,” working with growers around the world while staying true the company’s Texan inspiration.
Ultimately, Turner says the new partnership with Aggie Dining has given Polite an opportunity to reach even more people with their unique product and message. So whether they’re sipping a latte at the Kyle House location or grabbing a quick cup between classes, students can rest easy knowing their coffee is steeped in Aggie tradition.
“This is our alma mater,” Turner said. “My wife, Neelie, went here and hopefully my kids will go here one day, so we want to serve this place as best as we can.”