Coffee remains part of Iraq War veteran's daily routine

Brandon Buttrey garnered appreciation for coffee before deployed to Iraq

HOUSTON – Coffee has proven to be a staple for students and those in the workforce trying to kick start their day, but for service members in combat, coffee can be a way to stay alert in life-threatening situations.

No one knows that better than Houstonian Brandon Buttrey, an Iraq War veteran who served as a Fleet Marine Force hospital corpsman.

Buttrey was trained as a combat medic, instructed to treat not only his allies, but also civilians and enemies alike.

For Buttrey and the troops, coffee was a lifeline.

"A lot of things we take for granted now here, you know, is cherished (in Iraq)," Buttrey said.

Buttrey garnered an appreciation for coffee long before he was deployed to Iraq, and when he arrived, he became something of a barista, doing what he could to make coffee during downtime.

"We would make a community pile of these little MRE packs of coffee. I'm just like, bring them all in. Let's pull them together. I mean, here, you make a pile here of creamer. Let's do sugar. What can we do?" Buttrey said.

But this was no corner coffeehouse. The coffee was often bitter, undrinkable, and the troops had to improvise with whatever they could, asking family back home to donate filters and a perculator.

"That first shot, you feel it in your chest. That's what it's like. That's field coffee," Buttrey said.

But after his return to the United States and to civilian life, coffee remained a part of Buttrey's daily routine. He worked in the oil and gas industry, and then as a teacher, brewing coffee for his students and leaving a bucket out to collect donations to cover the cost.

"A light just went off. There's money to made here with coffee. Who would have thought?" Buttrey said.

That was the birth of Counter Strike Coffee, Buttrey's very own company that ships beans in through the port of Houston, roasts them locally and packages them with catchy military-inspired names and patriotic signage.

Buttrey does most of his business online but sells the coffee at the Tomball Farmer's Market Saturdays.

A portion of Buttrey's profits are donated to organizations that support veterans, a cause as close to his heart as a cup of dark roast.

Tap or click to visit Counter Strike Coffee's website to shop.