Geoffrey Meeker of French Truck Coffee
Geoffrey Meeker of the New Orleans-based French Truck Coffee
has entered into a partnership with Jimmy Lewis of Relevant Roasters
Relevant Roasters will be rebranded French Truck Coffee, with Lewis in charge of the Memphis operation. The rebranding is set for September. In addition, they will open a roaster and cafe in the Crosstown Concourse building.
Meeker started French Truck out of his home in 2012. He says he got into coffee via his cousin.
"She brought me a bag of coffee from a San Francisco roaster that was roasted the day before she got on the plane, and it was an epiphany," Meeker says. "I couldn't understand why coffee could be so good and I had never had it before. I then set about reverse-engineering to see how it could be done."
Meeker, who has a background as a chef, started the micro-roaster out of his laundry room. The coffee was delivered to customers' homes via a vintage truck.
French Truck outgrew the laundry room. The business was moved into a warehouse with a coffee bar like Relevant's. There is now a French Truck Cafe as well.
It sells 14 types of coffee — 8 single-origin, 6 blends.
According to Meeker, Lewis first contacted him to compare notes on the roasting business, and, eventually, Lewis asked him he was interested in a partnership. Meeker initially told him no before reconsidering what combining the brands might mean.
As for the rebranding of Relevant into French Truck, Meeker explains the reason, "It's twofold: We feel, and Jimmy is of this opinion, that our brand is a really strong brand and it's got a lot of legs. And number two, if we were to remain two separate entities as far as naming goes, we wouldn't be able to capitalize on some of the efficiencies of having a larger operation because we would be buying two kinds of bags, two different websites, etc., etc., etc."
"Some of the steps that we've already taken and some of the lessons we've already learned get added into what Relevant was doing. We wouldn't have done this if Jimmy hadn't stayed on board," Meeker adds.
The Crosstown Concourse French Truck will be a roaster/cafe with large windows on all sides so customers can get a peek into the roaster. The cafe will serve a European-inspired menu and beer and wine. Meeker envisions for the space coffee-centric education events, pop-up restaurants, and cuppings.
Says Meeker of the partnership, "Jimmy already has amazing equipment. With our background in buying coffee and his background in roasting and us putting all that together, it just means that the Relevant Roaster product when it becomes French Truck is going to take one step forward as far as quality goes and the coffee that we're going to be selling in Memphis is world class, on par with what you might find in San Francisco and New York."