With the fall season approaching, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and such have been remerging on coffee shop menus everywhere. With the lattes come pumpkin spice creamer, flavoring and more. I know people tend to go bananas over this stuff and I just really don't see the big deal. I like pumpkin, spice and you know I love coffee but I'm just not a fan of all 3 in a cup at one time. Call me a coffee purist, but I just don't go gaga over sauces, flavoring and the like. Truth be told, that’s all it is: sauce. Large scale, artificially flavored, sugar saturated, manufactured sauce to be exact.
I guess what's most disturbing is how much attention is given to the sauce, while the producers who skillfully grow and harvest the coffee used in the beverages seem to get overlooked. To get coffee from seed to cup is a risky, painstakingly long journey. Grown in exotic and sometimes dangerous locations from around the world, coffee producers tend to get a simple nod while mass produced condiments get glorified. It's takes a lot of hands to get harvested coffee from the farm
to the coffee shop, but I have yet to see any individual farm or producer trending on twitter. I wish it were the opposite. I know quality focused shops are starting to drive more attention to the producers they source their coffees from and that is awesome, but so many shops still focus on the newest syrup that land on their shelves. Truthfully, those sugary drinks are a lot more profitable for the shops than simple brewed coffee so more of the marketing is directed toward to these concoctions. As a business owner, I can totally understand but at the end of the day it's still a COFFEE shop.
In conclusion, I'm not telling you stop drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes or any other seasonal drink that you love for that matter. If you enjoy them, go ahead, drink up. I simply request we not forget about the base of all coffee drinks. Coffee producers invest so much to provide us with quality coffee to enjoy, the least we could do is give them a little more of our attention. A great sauce, syrup or even barista cannot produce an exceptional drink without high quality coffee. Let's not be sold on the mansion without taking a look at its foundation. Be blessed.
2012 was a great year for our small company. I honestly believe that the
success of our business is 25% of the efforts of us & 75% of the support of
the people around us. Instead of listing our successes, we want to give thanks to
some people that influenced us & made this great year possible. In order of
no importance, here goes:
- Ryan & Ashley Vaughn: Great friends, lended helping hands &
occasionaly a truck :-)
- Meredith Sullivan & Action Jackson: Huge supporters & inspiration
to move forward
- Word of Life Church: Giving us an opportunity to serve them
- Caitlin Cox: pushed like a bandit to get our coffee in Sneaky Beans
- Byron McKnight: saying yes to Caitlin & for them banging Sat. morning
biscuits. Awesome guy!
- Mitchell Moore: for serving us at Campbells Bakery & awesome advice
- Joe Hickman: awesome friend who always has an open ear for me & huge
- Lemuria Bookstore: best bookstore in Jackson for real & their awesome
- Jamie & Julia Weems: great supporters & overall awesome. Too many
attributes to list.
- Jonathan & Sevanna Picarsic: best produce in the Jackson Metro, support
- Meredith May: taking those awesome photos for us
- Jay Lide: great friend & supporter
- Justin Schultz: designing that awesome artwork for us
- Melanie's: owner's infectious personality & giving us opportnity to
serve our coffee in Byram
- Alan Campbell: huge supporter & chief re-tweeter
- Fondren Church: giving us an opportunity to serve you guys
- Matthew Kajdan and Parlor Market: giving us opportunity to serve you guys
& your customers
- Les Harvey: awesome supporter & encourager
- Team at Rankin County Schools: an opportunity to help get Gathering Grounds
off the ground
- Tara Morrison: awesome supporter & giving me great advice
- The Coffee Adventures & Table in the Corner of the Cafe: my 2 favorite
So many other friends, family & people I got to know over the past year,
I am really grateful for your support. It really does mean a ton to me. If I
forgot to mention someone, I apologize, I've only 2 shots of espresso so far
today :-). Look for updates soon about some of our new projects for 2013. Be
For the last 5 months I have been honored to be involved in a local project & it is really awesome to see it come to fruition. Yesterday was the Grand Opening of Gathering Grounds Coffee Shop. Located on the campus of the Rankin County School District Office (1220 Apple Park Place, Brandon, MS 39042), Gathering Grounds will serve as an employment training lab for students in RCSD's Special Education Transition Program. The shop will be run by students from across the district & will provide an avenue to assist students in developing social skills & becoming self-advocates for employment oppotunites.
A few months ago, we had a coffee tasting on the campus & developed a propriety Gathering Grounds Blend to be used at the shop. In addition brewed coffee & packaged baked goods, the front of coffee shop will feature original student artwork for sale. The intention of the school district to increase disability awareness & to spotlight the abilities, gifts and talents of all their students.
Your support is critical to the success of this shop. Each purchase you make is invested back into the school district to buy supplies & fund other projects to impact the lives of the students involved. We are super excited to be a part of this & ask that you support these amazing students. Be blessed.
In September I announced that I would be training to run the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk/Run this month. I think the world heard my announcement & September was by far one of the busiest months I ever encountered. I wasn’t deterred to completely give up my goal & started back running this month. I have to be honest it’s been tough. First off, I’m not a huge fan of running. I just don’t get excited about it (probably cause I not good at it yet). I like the results of training to run & so I keep my focus on the end results & not necessarily the task at hand. Second, I love food. Good food. I always jump at an opportunity to experience something new & delicious. I especially love trying rare & exotic fruit. If you ever run into a guy smelling the fruit in produce section, it’s a good shot that it’s me. Nevertheless, I have to keep my eyes on the prize. Terry Sullivan of LiveRightNow has been an excellent trainer & mentor in this process. His advice is really helpful & practical. My first goal: lose seven pounds. Wish me luck. Be blessed.
I've participated in the Making Strides walk/run in Jackson for the last 5 years. Cancer isn't just a passing subject in my household. My family has been affected by this deadly disease multiple times, making it very personal and near & dear to my heart. I've been planning to do something with Jackson ACS for the last 2 years but I've either been too late or too occupied. We were determined to do something with them this year & I'm happy to announce we are ready to go.
Today we are releasing a special coffee blend in honor of the Making Strides campaign called 1 Billion Birthdays. This coffee is a combination of Central American coffees and the cupping notes on this coffee is sweet fudge, & silky caramel. We are donating 25% of the sales of this coffee to the local American Cancer Society in Jackson, Mississippi with the conclusion of this fundraiser to be on the weekend of the annual 5k walk/run.
We are also planning to participate in the 5k again this year. I'm personally planning to run the 5k draped in pink this year to celebrate. Keep in mind, I've never ran a 5k in my entire life & to get prepped, I am training with Terry Sullivan of LiveRightNow. Terry is a certified trainer and an excellent motivator. If you've ever seen a group of guys & gals running hills in Fondren on Fridays, that's Terry's group. To sweeten the deal, we are donating $10 for each pound I lose in preparation for the race. In the meantime, I'll be posting pics of the training to Facebook/Twitter & blog my progress. No pressure right?
To say that I am super excited about this would be an understatement. We are a company that loves to give back to our local community & support our local ACS. So how can you get involved? How can you support? You can pick up your very own bag of 1 Billion Birthdays coffee here to get started. Do you have a Making Strides team of your own & would like to do fundraising? Contact us here to get more information about a fundraising opportunity using our coffee. Simply put "Making Strides Fundraiser" in the subject line & we will get back in contact with you. In the meantime, look for announcements on our Facebook & Twitter pages for updates, events, giveaways & more. As always, be blessed.
You know if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Decaf!? Yuck! It’s like drinking non-alcoholic beer, what’s the use?” Decaf drinkers catch a hard time in the coffee world. According to the National Coffee Association, decaf drinkers make up only 10% of the entire coffee market. I really love my decaf drinkers & in an effort to bring more attention to the subject, I decided to write a blog about one of America’s invisible minorities.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in a variety of plants including its most famous carrier coffee. Caffeine wasn’t originally developed in plants as a stimulant for humans, but as a way to deflect bugs. When insects bite into plants containing caffeine, it actually paralyzes them, preventing the insect from devouring the plant completely. It wasn’t until many years later that coffee was discovered to be a stimulant presumptively by an Ethiopian goat herder. Read more about that story here.
How is coffee decaffeinated? Caffeine is removed from natural coffee by a number of means. One of the oldest processes is a chemical type that uses a plant based solvent to remove the caffeine. The raw beans are soaked into this solution to extract the caffeine quickly to encourage retaining the coffee’s natural flavor. Another common decaf process is water based decaffeination. The water process steams or soaks the beans in high temperature water to extract the caffeine from them. That water solution is then drained through carbon filters which captures the extracted caffeine. The beans are then re-introduced to the caffeine-free solution to absorb their organic flavors. Is the extracted caffeine trashed? Nope. It’s actually sold to beverage makers, pharmaceutical companies and other companies that repurpose it for use in their products.
Why does decaf get such a bad rap? Most of it just doesn’t taste as well as its caffeinated counter parts. Why? Because 90% of the decaf coffee produced is made up of coffee beans that were rejected from the original lot. You read correctly, bad and/or inadequate coffee beans generally are sent to be decaffeinated. Most companies figure since decaf drinkers tend to be less discerning about the way their coffee tastes, they just spare them the left overs. However, the same old truth applies: garbage in, garbage out. In the words of Kenneth Davids: “pity the poor decaf drinker.”
Luckily, for the decaf drinker, things are changing. As quality coffee continues to evolve, decaf does too. Decaf is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves. Quality roasters like us, roast high quality beans that aren’t rejected from the original lot but are quality from the start making a positive impact on the taste. There’s a special place in my heart for my decaf customers. Most of them select decaf coffees for either health or personal reasons. I really enjoy a good tasting decaf myself, especially late afternoons when I desire coffee & not want to worry about losing sleep. Great decaf coffees are very rare & supplies are really thin. In actuality, I work the hardest for my decaf drinkers. Without the drive to drink coffee simply for a caffeine delivery system, they mainly have one desire in mind: great taste. Great taste is exactly what we have in mind when selecting coffees for our decaf & non-decaf drinkers alike. So next time your friend selects decaf to enjoy, don’t make fun of them, instead remember that common bond you both share for the cup. Be blessed.
Well where do I begin with We Will Go? You know there are some folks you just do not forget: your mother, your first teacher, your first best friend. I can personally I remember all those people, but the day I met David & Amy Lancaster added a new edition to that category. We Will Go Ministries was started by David & Amy who were instructed by God to leave their creature comfort focused lifestyle & serve Him wholeheartedly. Their story is a lot more complex than I have space to write in this blog post but is beautiful & amazing. They moved to downtown Jackson to love & serve their local neighbors by meeting their physical needs of food, clothing etc. However, their primary purpose is to share the love & word of God with everyone they meet. I've heard them both say time & time again, "my prayer is that no one perish."
The first time I visited We Will Go, I was involved with a small group with Pinelake Church. We went to serve food one Sunday afternoon & I've never been the same since. I've served at a couple local ministries before, but none of them made an impact my life like WWG. I've made some wonderful friends there: The Lancasters, Fairchilds, Fergusons, Meredith, Jamie & Jennifer just to name a few and I love them all. They are just genuine people who are honest, caring & really love Jesus. When I started this company and wanted to use it to sow seeds for God's Kingdom, this was the first ministry that came to mind. I have a huge heart for everyone there. Some people call them weird for moving to one of the most undesirable neighborhoods in Jackson. Just meet them & I promise you will retract those words. I sure did. Be blessed.
To learn more about We Will Go Ministries or to support, please visit: www.wewillgo.org
You know growing up in southern Mississippi, it wasn't anything rare when our family would get up first thing in the morning and fix a big pot of piping hot grits. "Sir, what exactly is a grit?" The famous court room scene from the 90's hit movie "My Cousin Vinny" popped into my mind when I sat down to write to write this post. Well, what are grits? Grits comes from dried corn that is ground to a specific coarseness to form "grit." A close cousin that many of my relatives are familiar with outside of the south is called polenta. Polenta is developed by the same method, however it is ground a bit finer. Now that we've got that squared away, let's talk about Delta Grind.
Delta Grind is a small company located in Water Valley, Mississippi who produces grits,corn meal, masa and other products derived from corn. What makes their grits so special? Their grits actually have "taste." Again I grew up eating grits (and still do) the majority of my life. However the grits I grew up eating, did not have any actual taste. I mean we would prepare them and add so much butter and salt to the pot that the grits basically became the gel that held the salt and butter in place for us to devour. Without those components, the grits basically were useless. Very bland, dull and utterly tasteless. Then Delta Grind showed up and hope for the "grit" appeared.
Their grits are delicious by the way. I first had an opportunity to sample some at the Mississippi Farmers Market late last year. Becky & John put me up to the challenge of tasting their grits when we first met and I am so glad I did. I'm a taster and immediately noticed the difference. They explained the difference between their white and yellow grits and I gave it a shot. They were awesome to say the least. I tried the white grits first and they had really balanced sweet taste with a great texture. The yellow corn grits (which are my fav) had a really nice sweetness with a great nutty finish. I was blown away to say the least. It was the first time I ever had grits that didn't taste like the box they came in. At Delta Grind they employ an old fashioned stone ground process that I believe adds a certain quality that cannot be reproduced by a factory. You can definitely taste the difference. There goes that word again, "taste."
Not sure if you have ever had them, but you can try them out at a few local restaurants in the Jackson Metro area including Brents Drugs and Babalu. It stuns me how I ate grits all those years and had no idea what grits were really supposed to taste like. It reminds me of the product we offer here at BeanFruit Coffee. If you've only had coffee out of a can your entire life and never had it fresh roasted and brewed correctly, you don't know what you are missing. Fresh makes all the difference.
If you get an opportunity to try some of Delta Grind products, I would totally recommend it. Or you can check out there website here. Give Becky or John a call, they would love to take care of you. Thinking grits? Think of Delta Grind. Be blessed.
This is my first time writing a post about a restaurant. However, this is not just another place to sit down and eat, it is an absolute food experience. This place I am talking about is Ro' Chez. They are located in Ridgeland on Jackson Street next to the new shopping centers (www.rochezdining.com
) . My wife and I wanted to try a new place to eat and heard about this place from the Farmer's Market.
When we arrived, we were greeted by chef James Roache' who is also the owner. We were sat in the foyer and we had an opportunity to share a few laughs. The interior has a nice rustic feel that is definitely inspired by New Orleans. Next, we entered in the dining room where we were given an overview of the of our menu. Five courses all selected and prepared by the chef. Most of the time when I go to a restaurant, I usually end up liking one item and kinda skipping over everything else. Not this time. One dish after another I would taste and they were all awesome. From the smoked duck gumbo to the BBQ prawns over grits, they all sent my palate into a frenzy and I loved it. Did I mention everything was prepared over a wood burning stove? When was the last time you heard that?
There a few things about this place that I like and want to highlight. The atmosphere: It is a very nice place to have a special dinner, but you can leave the 10pcs suit at home. It was very laid back and I loved it. The food: What can I say but delicious. Very unique dishes that had my mouth watering for the next course. Also, he uses fresh ingredients and gets them from local sources. So you get a taste of what's in season and is locally grown. The experience: Just awesome, great service. Two hours totally about you. Elegant, but fun place to enjoy a great dinner.
Overall, the chef has a passion for great food that will inspire you and it shows up in the meal. It is like no other place around here. It's like one of those gems hidden in the mist of the metro area. Their slogan is: Ro' Chez: more than a restaurant, a fine dining experience. I couldn't agree more. Be blessed.
I am not certain about this, but I feel that as coffee drinkers, we sometimes are under the impression that we must select one type of coffee to drink all the time. I don't personally have an exclusive coffee that I must have. Instead, I have an assortment I like to enjoy. In the morning, I tend to go for coffees that have a higher acidity like a good high grown central american or african. In the afternoon, I prefer darker roast coffees with a good body.
I think the "pick one" mentality originated from the canned grocery store competition that started in the past. I remember you were either a Folgers drinker or a Maxwell House drinker. Unless you were trying to impress your guests and you would brew some Community Coffee. Sure there is nothing wrong with picking a favorite, but don't feel committed to just one type of coffee. Keep your self open to enjoy new coffees. There is more than one great coffee out there for you. Not only do you get to expand your selection, put you give your palate a chance to experience different tastes.
You ever dated someone who only ate hamburgers all time? You say "I am in the mood for Italian", response "I want a whopper." "Ooh I heard there was a new sushi place in town," response "I want a Big Mac." It gets old quick doesn't it? Treat your coffee the same way, you and your tongue will be happier. Be blessed.