San Antonio’s newest witchy coffee haunt, Gravves, is now serving alternative brews on the strip

San Antonio’s newest witchy coffee haunt, Gravves, is now serving alternative brews on the strip

If you like your music dark-wave and your coffee dark roast, then Gravves coffee, the latest addition to the St. Mary’s strip, is where you ought to be.

Originally inspired by the candle-lit charm of witchy New England towns like Salem, Massachusetts, this San Antonio spot is the spawn of owner Mauricio Cruz and his childhood friend and Kennedy High School classmate, cafe manager Daniel Contreras. 

Today, on Monday, August 16, I trekked on over to the Gravves grand opening to explore the gothic offerings and chat with Cruz about his “dark” coffee concept. 

Gravves Coffee truck on N. St. Marys.

Gravves Coffee truck on N. St. Marys.

Camille Sauers

The little black truck parked outside of Rumble initially alerts you to its presence with a coffin-shaped sign. The espresso-dependent know that caffeine is a miracle drug with the power to metaphorically revive you from the grave. The marriage is a natural fit. 

“We just want to bring something cool for everybody,” says Cruz.

“We’re just being us, we’re not trying too hard to push anything, either you like us for our looks and style or you come in because you like the coffee, either way.”

Owner at Gravves Coffee, Mauricio Cruz.

Owner at Gravves Coffee, Mauricio Cruz.

Camille Sauers

With matte black cups and packaging visible on the counter, I immediately knew that the Gravves gimmick deviates from the standard spoils of the existing San Antonio coffee circuit. Cold Cave was playing through the speakers as my roommate and I ordered our specialty iced lattes. It was one of those rare experiences where a daily transaction feels like fun. 

The “Elixir” gets its pretty purple color from the ube root, originating in the Philippines and common across South Asian cuisine. It was one of the first drinks Cruz concocted in the early days of 2020 — maybe earlier — when Gravves was still operating from home and purveyed at local establishments like Wong’s Bodega and Sari-Sari.

“That one in particular, the ube, turned purple when I was messing with it the first time at home, so then I was like cool, this could be something different to bring into the city,” Cruz tells MySA.

Gravves coffee speciality drinks. The Elixir, made with Ube root, and the Forest Dweller, made with Pandan.

Gravves coffee speciality drinks. The Elixir, made with Ube root, and the Forest Dweller, made with Pandan.

Camille Sauers

His first brush with the mauve root happened at an ice cream parlor in New York City, while on a trip with Contreras. The myriad of unique offerings prompted Cruz to think creatively about what he wanted to bring back home. 

While he doesn’t have an official coffee resumé, Cruz tells me the drink has been a lifelong pursuit. Before moving to San Antonio at the age of 10, his love of coffee was born, like him, in El Salvador, when his great, great-grandmother used to put coffee into his bottle when he was a toddler. While working at Brooks Army Medical Center as an Environmental Services Manager, a gig he still maintains, Cruz received a fortune cookie in 2018 that forecasted he would soon make his dreams come true. After giving it some thought, he knew he wanted to open a coffee shop. Trial and error ensued.

Gravves was born. 

Barista Victoria Martinez and Cafe Manager Daniel Contreras.

Barista Victoria Martinez and Cafe Manager Daniel Contreras.

Camille Sauers

Another Gravves specialty is the “The Forest Dweller” made with pandan leaves, a mossy colored brew, evoking visions of fairies and mushroom rings lurking around the shadowy side of trees. Both drinks we sampled possessed a nutty, almost taro-like quality with beans from Barrett’s Coffee Roasters, based in Austin.

They were delicious, and visually, the type of beverages that make you want to snap a little picture. Cruz mentions that next to their vnilla lavender latte, the drinks subscribe to a similar color story as the 1988 film, Beetlejuice.

While ultimately wanting to take the gothic concept further with a full-fledged brick and mortar, the team is excited about the truck, and the flexibility it provides during a precarious pandemic landscape.

The coffee stop is now open Tuesdays through Sundays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2410 N St. Mary’s. Customers have free range to utilize Rumble’s outdoor seating.




Gravves Coffee, now open outside of Rumble on the N. St. Mary's.

Gravves Coffee, now open outside of Rumble on the N. St. Mary’s.

Camille Sauers


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