The Build-Outs of Coffee, our annual series highlighting new and revamped cafes around the world, offers a unique lens through which one can decipher new trends and important issues in specialty coffee. We’ve only just begun The Thrill of the Build here in 2022, but already one big question is being pulled into focus: is the multi-roaster cafe back?
For Social Coffee in Baton Rouge, the answer is a resounding yes! Working with Arkansas’s Onyx Coffee Lab are their mainstay, Social is featuring a rotating guest roaster featuring some of the most exciting brands in the country and the world. Perhaps the multi-roaster goes part in parcel with the developing of a young coffee scene, as Social is helping usher in Baton Rouge, or maybe multi-roasters are just plain awesome, playing a vital part in exposing denizens to the multitude of ideas and expressions that is specialty coffee. Whatever the reason, we’re just chuffed to have them back. So let’s dive into our first multi-roaster cafe for this year’s Build-Outs of Coffee and check out Social Coffee in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
As told to Sprudge by Dillon Farrell.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Social Coffee started as a cart in the summer of 2019 with the idea of celebrating others in their most special occasions. Whether it is weddings, birthdays, or employee appreciations, we’ve always believed that coffee should be a social event and therefore should be utilized to celebrate. In our current state, with our brick and mortar, we have a daily location in which we get to build relationships with customers and other like-minded individuals.
We hold ourselves to three main values: Community, Craft, and Curiosity. We believe in building a community around high quality coffee while continually seeking to grow ourselves in multiple ways.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Our space had been empty for around four years before I randomly found it while searching late one night. It is a small, 919-square-foot space at the bottom of a parking garage in downtown Baton Rouge. We had to change the concept and color scheme as the former business was a juice/health food shop.
We want it to feel modern, yet warm. We accomplished this with bench seating along our windows, which has helped us capitalize on space and provide ample natural light. We also pushed the bar space further in which allows for more seating. We removed the old, green tile floor and sanded/sealed the concrete in order to capture the character of our established location.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We approach coffee with the thought that we want to be approachable. It’s a bit of a cliché to talk about how specialty coffee can often be exclusive, but in a city like Baton Rouge, where the scene is new and growing, we want to be open to educating others about what we serve and why we serve it. As a father of three, I also want specialty coffee to be seen as “family” friendly, which I believe will help bridge the gap between people from different brackets and SES’s.
Another main component for us is wholeheartedly buying into collaboration over competition. We are in our current situation because of the other local small-business owners who have helped us along the way. Because of this value, we are able to source most of our goods and food from other businesses and provide a high quality food experience along with our coffee.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We LOVE our Synesso S200 (with Pesado portafilters because we’re a bit bougie like that)! It’s a workhorse and has presented great opportunities for us to play with our coffee using pre-infusion.
The Mahlkönig EK43 is the backbone in our shop. We pull single origin decaf, drip, and grind retail for customers all on one grinder. What more could you ask for?
Lastly, while we use Onyx Coffee Lab as our main “house” roaster, we will rotate our guest roaster every couple of months. We just finished utilizing Little Wolf and are moving on to Methodical with other roasters such as Valor Coffee and La Cabra in the future lineup.
How is your project considering sustainability?
One of the ways we consider sustainability is by considering the businesses we partner with. Partnering with other small-businesses, we believe, can help bring sustainable income to our city, which we believe will bring sustainable growth to our community.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We opened in March of 2022!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
One of the main builders in our buildout was Jeremiah Kiger of Kiger Construction, LLC. He worked tirelessly to help make this place a comfortable, yet modern space.
Our rebranding was done by my incredibly brilliant friend, Alex Rodriquez. He captured our values in our color scheme and branding.