For many, the art of drinking coffee is a ritual that has been developed over a lifetime. For coffee drinkers in Shreveport-Bossier, the recent influx of local coffee roasters has provided many more options when it comes to how they drink their coffee.
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When asked how he became interested in coffee, Peter Lyons of Lyons Pride Coffee spoke of his childhood memory of drinking coffee milk with his father while reading the comics. It was the social connection coupled with the celebratory aspect and ultimately the association with his family that inspired his love for coffee. Lyons began working in the coffee industry in Los Angeles, working with Starbucks and Whole Foods. After working with different coffee brands, Lyons decided to move home to Shreveport-Bossier and build a coffee company on his terms. Of particular importance to Lyons was the connection between the farmer and consumer, as well as the storytelling culture of the South.
Lyons has two goals with his coffee—the primary being consumer education with a non-threatening experience. He wants “to meet you exactly where you are in your coffee journey.” He hopes that he can then help people discover what type of coffee they truly enjoy, as well as how to prepare that coffee. The second goal is to work with marginalized work forces. He hopes to integrate working with BPCC, Southern and LSUS to provide work force training for individuals with disabilities which will hopefully allow them to go out and work in the coffee industry.
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Jon Mackey began the coffee roasting program for Rhino Coffee after developing his own small coffee business, Heliopolis Coffees. “I became fascinated by the process of roasting coffee a long time ago, when I started working a local coffee job to pay the bills while I went to graduate school. I read on the internet that you could roast coffee at home in an old popcorn popper, and I dove deep into internet forums, books, and classes, learning everything I could about how it was done. This turned into a small business, which I called Heliopolis Coffees, and which featured a weekly newsletter, home delivery, and a few seasons at the Shreveport Farmer’s Market.”
For Mackey, what makes the coffee culture in Shreveport-Bossier unique is “we have people who like a very traditional style of coffee alongside people who like newer methods of selecting and preparing coffee. So it’s not unusual in our region to see a menu that has a dark-roasted coffee or one with a lot of milk, sugar, and even chicory next to manual brew methods that focus on a particular coffee’s unique characteristics, or showcase coffee from emerging markets. It’s also unique because it’s growing.”
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Kern Courtney of Kern Has Coffee began roasting coffee after acquiring a sample roaster from a friend coffee roaster in town. He began roasting and delivering coffee and would go on to start selling coffee at the Texas Avenue Makers Fair in 2011. In a short amount of time he found success and was able to become a vendor at the Shreveport Farmers Market. One aspect of Courtney’s roasting that makes his coffee unique is that he uses an air roaster, which is different than the drum roaster which is used by many roasters. By using the air roaster, there are different qualities and characteristics that are developed in the coffee.
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Rather than spend his retirement relaxing, Stan Hutchins decided he wanted to produce the finest coffee in the South, and Plantation Gourmet Coffee was born. Plantation does custom roasting and blending of all organic and fair trade coffee beans from all over the world on their expansive property in Mooringsport, LA. While Hutchins believes that the coffee culture in Shreveport-Bossier is about 30 years behind Seattle and Portland, it is up and coming. He spoke of the history of good coffee coming to Louisiana through the New Orleans port, however much of what is sold by large commercial brands today has been replaced by inexpensive beans that changed the taste of coffee. It is this tradition of good coffee in Louisiana that Hutchins hopes to revive with the coffee that Plantation produces.
Hutchins believes that each coffee has a story to tell and that it is the roasters job to tell that story. Jeremy Bohnenkamp is the roaster for Plantation Gourmet Coffee, and he is the mastermind behind the flavored coffee recipes for Plantation. One important aspect of the art of blending coffee is that it allows the roaster to capture something that does not exist in nature. The roasting room on the Plantation property includes shelves of flavors that are combined into an unbelievable number of different flavored coffees.
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One needs to only go to the grocery store and look at the coffee aisle to understand that there are plenty of large national brands of coffee from which to choose. The question then becomes why should we choose to drink coffee that is locally produced. For Courtney, there are several reasons. One being the civic pride in drinking coffee produced in this area. Just as important though is Courtney’s argument that “what we have to offer is a good reflection of coffee available everywhere else.”
Peter Lyons spoke of the impact of “buying local” not only on our local Shreveport-Bossier economy by employing individuals, but also of the impact on the local communities where the coffee beans originate. He noted that in the United States, only Hawaii and Puerto Rico actually grow coffee beans, so there is a global aspect to the coffee roasting business that isn’t going anywhere. Lyons noted that buying coffee from local roasters is a “way to continue to support local farm to table. They have relationships with local farms in other countries. I don’t know if you are buying nonlocal if you have that guarantee.”
For Jon Mackey, there is more than just one reason to drink local when it comes to coffee. He believes that “Local roasters offer a comprehensive look at our area’s knowledge and taste in coffee, and are a great source for learning more about tasting and appreciating coffee, and how to prepare it properly. It’s also much, much easier to get fresh coffee from a local roaster than a national distributor.”
Stan and Jeremy of Plantation Gourmet Coffee emphasized the importance of freshness when it comes to drinking coffee. Not only does drinking local coffee support the local economy, you have more of a guarantee that it is fresh. Stan spoke of the coffee that has been sitting on a shelf at the grocery store and the consumer has no idea how long it was sitting in a warehouse before it even made its way to the grocery store shelf.
While varied in their approaches to coffee roasting, it is clear that all of the local roasters interviewed for this article share the common goal of wanting the people of Shreveport-Bossier to be able to enjoy the best cup of locally roasted coffee. Whether you are just beginning on your journey of drinking coffee or you are a lifelong enthusiast, I encourage you to go out and try a local coffee you have never tried before and you might be surprised by all of the wonderful options available.
Where To Find Local Coffee
- Rhino Coffee
- DTWN: 624 Texas St, Shreveport, LA 71101
- UTWN: 721 Southfield Rd, Shreveport, LA 71106
- Parish Taceaux
- Whole Foods Market
- Wine Country
- The Shreveport Club
PLANTATION GOURMET COFFEE
- Bon Temps Coffee Bar
- 450 Clyde Fant Memorial Pkwy #700, Shreveport, LA 71101
- Retro 521
- 521 Barksdale Blvd, Bossier City, LA 71111
LYONS PRIDE COFFEE
- Whisk Dessert Bar
- 724 Azalea, Shreveport, LA 71106