It is beginning to look, sound, and taste a lot like Christmas!
It is the very best time of year my friends! It is time for caroling, giving presents to one another, and celebrating our wonderful Savior’s birth. I do not think there is one thing that I do not adore about this time of year. One of my most favorite things to do during the Christmas season is to look at Christmas lights! Looking at beautiful Christmas lights is something that I grew up doing with my family and continued with my best friends when we got to college. When I was little and lived in Houston, our parents would take us to the most decked out and beautiful Christmas lights in the Prestonwood Forest neighborhood. Last year some friends and I created a tradition of taking an evening to drive down to Houston and visit these awesome Christmas lights. This year we took the trek to the lights and decided that we needed to try out a new coffee shop all together in the area we were in. Madison found out that “Rao’s” was close and it looked like a wonderful coffee shop to try out with some of our good friends. When we pulled up to the shop, I was automatically stunned by its old time look and absolute charm even from the outside. When you step inside, it is like a blast from the past in the very best nostalgic way. The use of wood in the shop on the walls and the light fixtures around “Rao’s” makes you feel as if you are stepping back into the style of the 1920s or 30s. I adore this style and the feeling that being in this shop gives you that was complete with the old school big band music playing in the background. The coffee shop truly gives you a warm feeling inside. The Christmas decorations that the shop has are absolutely stunning to say the least. The shop is decked out with beautiful Christmas decorations that are classic and old school. The shop has an abundance of nutcrackers, poinsettias and large wreaths. We were all amazed and stunned by the wonderful decorations. An interior of a shop can only make you feel as at home and welcomed as the people working there. The employees at “Rao’s” were out of this world with their kindness and service. They answered all of our questions with knowledge and grace and even took a big group photo of all of us! One of Madison’s favorite things about the shop was that the staff was very friendly and even brought our drinks to our table.
I knew I heard of this coffee shop before because it originated in Beaumont, where our mom grew up and some of our family members are from. “Rao’s” was founded by Johnny Rao in 1941 at the corner of 10th and Calder in Beaumont, Texas. It was a known bakery but through the years had different owners that changed little things about it. The latest owner since 1998, Jake Tortorice, wanted “Rao’s” to emphasize specialty coffee, desserts and service. I think stories like “Rao’s” are some of the very best stories there are. Hearing about small businesses becoming successful, impactful, and lasting is truly a wonderful thing. There are currently five different “Rao’s” locations. The original location at the corner of 10th and Calder in Beaumont, on Dowlen Road in Beaumont, in Nederland, in the Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, and the Spring location where we got to visit.
“Rao’s” has their own special blend and roasts to enjoy in the shop or buy to enjoy in the comfort of your home. All of us who got to visit this shop were amazed by the terrific drinks we ordered. Madison and I ordered the iced coffee which was iced expresso with milk and pure cane sugar. I’m a sucker for pure cane sugar and I thought the iced coffee was incredibly strong and not too sweet given the pure cane sugar used instead of a syrup. Camille received an iced spiced chai and she was a big fan of that and it was the perfect drink to sip while looking at the lovely lights. Camille’s favorite part of the coffee shop was the ambience. She loved that it was very old school, chill, and not trying too hard to be anything; it is one of a kind. Katie decided on getting the vanilla latte that was a great to match the chilly evening. Katie’s favorite part of the shop was that it was decorated so well for Christmas and the employees were super friendly and fast. Tabitha tried a drink that really caught my eye on the menu when I was trying to decide for myself. She got the Tuxedo Mocha which included white and dark chocolate with milk, expresso and topped with whipped cream. The whipped cream at “Rao’s” is unlike any other whipped cream you have ever consumed! I am a massive fan of whipped cream and I have never tried whipped cream that comes close to comparing to the whipped cream at “Rao’s”; all of us that tried it agree.
Something cool about this shop that makes it truly unique is the fact that it is also a quality bakery. The employees come around four in the morning to start making and baking the delicious desserts and pastries that they have at “Rao’s”. It is truly a double threat, amazing quality coffee and desserts. It is honestly so fun just looking in the case at all of the incredible looking custom desserts that they have to choose from. They have signature cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, cupcakes, brownies and gelato. Adrianna got a cookie and she said that it was the best m&m chocolate chip cookie that she has ever had!
It is easy to see that “Rao’s Bakery & Coffee Cafe” made an impression of all of it. It is a great place to study, hang out with friends, or even take a client or coworker on a break. The biggest impact was the fact that they had only been open a few weeks since they were flooded in Hurricane Harvey. This “Rao’s” location in Spring had about four feet of water flooded into it due to the Hurricane. Even with all that this shop has gone through, we had the most incredible experience and the workers’ joyful spirits uplifted us and made our visit one to truly remember. Thank you “Rao’s”!!!