The Best Kind of Buzz

William Ball and Philip Speer started My Name is Joe Coffee Co. last February to offer people a pick-me-up—but not just via the caffeine. In a respectful nod to the ever-important number 12 (as in steps), the Austin restaurant and bar veterans donate 1.2 percent of their profits to the Central Texas addiction treatment center, Serenity Star Recovery. It’s a cause near and dear to the hearts of the two men, who themselves are in recovery from addiction. After getting sober, Ball—owner of Garage Cocktail Bar—sought a way to help others do the same. To him, coffee seemed to be the obvious place to start. “It’s how popular culture views recovery: Coffee, cigarettes and a dark, twelve-step meeting room,” he says. “I knew both addicts and non-addicts would understand the reference.” 

Ball teamed up with his friend Speer (a former Uchi partner who recently opened Bonhomie) to create a menu of coffee and food that reflects the healthier approach to life they’ve adopted. From a restored Airstream trailer that once hauled around Henry Ford II’s wardrobe, My Name is Joe serves drip coffees, cappuccinos and lattes using beans from Vancouver’s 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters. They’ve also crafted their own housemade take on cold brews and sweeter coffee drinks. On the food end, Speer dreamed up creative “coffee sidekicks,” such as almond-butter toast with apple jam and miso butterscotch, and a steel-cut oats porridge with a soft-poached egg, scallions, bulgogi tofu and housemade kimchi, as well as assorted tartines, including the “Moroccan Joint,” with house hazelnut hummus, pickled beets, cucumber, ras el hangout and fresh herbs.

As passionate as they are about coffee and food, Ball and Speer have resolved to never lose sight of My Name is Joe’s mission to fund and promote recovery. On top of their regular contributions to Serenity’s Comfort Cafe, which employs the center’s residents, they’re planning a fundraiser dinner this fall. They also employ their share of fellow recoverees. As for the future of My Name is Joe, the founders have embraced the recovery world’s philosophy of starting small. “When I take a small step every day—focusing on what I can do today—I eventually look back and something great has emerged that never could have happened if I tried to do it all at once,” says Ball. “Maybe that philosophy will lead to something more than a trailer, but for today, it’s about the trailer and the people who work there.”

By Steve Wilson • Photography by Julie Cope Photography

For more information visit or find them at 503 Colorado St.