At 19 years old, Michaela Ta’s life changed. She was anemic, malnourished, always sick and exhausted until she was diagnosed with celiac disease.
She was forced into a lifestyle change and changed her diet to a gluten-free diet.
Following her diagnosis, Michaela Ta wanted to combine that passion for providing a gluten-free environment to East Texas residents in combination with her dream of owning a coffee shop.
This was when Crema Coffee Company, located at 2251 Three Lakes Parkway Suite 107 in Tyler, was created. The coffee shop offers a variety of items for people who eat vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free items.
“With flour and stuff, I just thought about how Tyler doesn’t have any complete gluten-free places. There’s a need for it, so we just made everything gluten-free so the people could enjoy the things they normally don’t get to,” she said.
Michaela Ta said it wasn’t until she looked around and talked to people and food manufacturers that she was able to come up with a solid gluten-free menu for the Tyler community.
“I was excited about it because when I went to New York and Italy for my honeymoon I remember walking in a bakery and just feeling like the sky was the limit. Things that you would take for granted normally I could have and I wanted to offer that to the people of Tyler,” Michaela Ta said.
The pastries on the menu are made fresh by Lisa Webb, owner of Dough Studio in Tyler.
Coffee toppings such as Oreos and graham crackers are also gluten-free. Webb also makes the focaccia bread for the menu sandwiches.
Michaela Ta has six years of experience working in the coffee industry and with the help of her husband and business partner Eric Ta.
“You meet the coolest people. You see the coolest things working at coffee shops. You will see people on their first dates, people seeing each other for the first time in a long time, you see older couples who have been together for a long time and you can learn a lot,” she said. “I fell in love working with coffee. I enjoyed the craft. It’s a blank canvas and you can do so many things with it so I played around with it at home with my homemade espresso machine.”
With her years of coffee experience, she said she can understand the background of coffee shops, which she said allows her to want the best quality items for Crema.
“I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want. One of those things was processed syrups and sauces. I wanted to have that strong coffee flavor so we built our coffee menu around that. I wanted to make sure our first ingredient wasn’t sugar, so I looked into that,” she said. “Our coffees are fair trade organic. For me, it’s a really big deal of what we put in our bodies but that it still tastes good.”
She said her husband doesn’t like drinking coffee but he assisted with input regarding tea and food.
“He helped me find good tea, so we have a good fair trade Matcha and we get it straight from the supplier in Japan. It’s pure grade and super clean,” she said. “He’s really good at coming up with recipes such as the avocado spread that is freshly homemade.”
Michaela Ta said having celiac affects her everyday life and emphasized there are a lot of dangers to eating gluten for those who can’t consume it.
“Being celiac affects me every day, you either get two reactions. They mostly don’t get it and there are people that think it’s just a diet. But it’s not, it’s about your health and your nutrition,” she said. “Different people have different reactions but for me, I was malnourished and sick all the time.”
Michaela Ta said because she has to be gluten-free, the number of places she can eat at is small.
Gluten-free consumers have been excited to see food items that they can eat, she said.
“Our neighbor’s mom and one of the daughters has celiac and the daughter has had it when she was 2. It’s exciting for me with kids like that because when they come in they can have anything they want. I like to give them that experience with pastries,” she said. “We had one lady who almost started crying, she was so excited. She was like ‘hold on, I’m having a moment.’”
Cold foam flavors include vanilla, oreos and cream, lavender, dulce de leche, brown sugar and white mocha. Ta said there’s a vegan cold foam made with a coconut creme base. Sugar-free syrup flavors are offered and there are also a variety of milk options.
The shop hours are Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.