Jeremy Harris, owner of Memphis' newest local roastery, Reverb Coffee Company, wasn't always a fan of the dark, heady brew.
"I didn't even drink coffee until after college," says Harris, who opened shop in April. He's a Memphis native who returned to his home in 2012 from missionary work abroad with a newfound passion for coffee and the knowledge to back it up. Harris was inspired to launch his own roastery after helping to start a coffee shop for a nonprofit in Malaysia.
"I read blogs and watched videos and studied everything coffee," he says. "That's where I got the basic knowledge, and I decided to bring it back here to Memphis."
Harris renovated a room in the small backhouse behind his grandparents' home near Bartlett. There, he set up his simple roastery — the roaster itself was the most expensive investment — and started experimenting in small batches. Six different beans from Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, Tanzania, Burundi, and Sumatra are kept pure; Harris says he's committed to single-origin roasting, in which beans are not blended to create certain flavor profiles.
"I take one bean from one country and leave it all by itself and let that bean stand for itself and showcase its flavor," he says. "It's another way to be transparent with customers and let them know exactly what they're getting."
As for his preferred brewing technique, Harris says he opts for the pour-over method.
"It's really unadulterated and straightforward," he says. "You can get all the essence of what the coffee is supposed to be, because you have more control over temperature and how long you brew."
Reverb Coffee Company beans, whole bean and ground, are available for $10 per 12-ounce bag at Trolley Stop Market and Maggie's Pharm. Harris is working to create more wholesale connections and partner with local coffee shops and restaurants. Eventually, he'd like to open some coffee shops of his own. For now, he's content to work in his grandparents' backyard, where his grandfather stops in for a cup of coffee and a chat whenever he likes.
Reverb Coffee Company, www.myreverbcoffee.com
When he came face to face with the possibility of retirement, Ahmad Sharif did what anyone would do. He consulted the immortal wisdom of the TV show Cosby.
"In the show, Bill Cosby retired and opened a coffee shop," Sharif says. "In that coffee shop, he could sit around with his friends all day and swap lies and drink coffee and enjoy their time. As my time came around, that episode came back to me. I've been drinking coffee all my life. Ever since I was 14, my dad would get me up every morning with a cup of coffee, and that was our time to sit around and talk."
Sharif's coffee shop, The Grindz Coffee & Tea, is geared toward older patrons looking for a place to relax, without the bustle of chain coffee shops like Starbucks. He's situating his prices below Starbucks prices as well but tapping into Pacific Northwest coffee expertise by sourcing his beans from Longbottom Coffee in Oregon. In addition to the coffee drinks, the Grindz sells deli sandwiches as well as pastries from the nearby Pat-A-Cake's Bake Shop.
He says so far he's had a lot of return customers, primarily people who live on or around Dexter Road, the part of Cordova where the Grindz is located. And this local vibe is what Sharif was hoping for. He also lives in the neighborhood, and his coffee shop is a way for him to bring the surrounding community together.
"It's a small, family-friendly neighborhood operation," Sharif says, adding that both his wife and son work at the shop. "I'm not trying to compete with Starbucks, not by a long shot. I just want to provide a neighborhood meeting spot."
The Grindz is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Grindz Coffee & Tea, 8195 Dexter in Cordova (203-7840)