In 2012, local service industry veteran Geoffrey Meeker started French Truck Coffee (504-298-1115; www.frenchtruckcoffee.com) as a boutique coffee roaster and distributor. His product began turning up in local restaurants, and he sells to consumers by delivery and through retail outlets like Hollygrove Market & Farm. You might spot Meeker making his rounds in his yellow vintage French work truck, the namesake and easily recognizable emblem of his company.
What makes your coffee different from what we can get anywhere else?
Meeker: I don't roast coffee until it's ordered. In the old days, the corner store would get a bag of coffee and roast some every few days as needed, or people would just roast beans at home. Like a lot of our foods, though, it got mechanized and became distant to people along the way. Coffee is a baked product. If you let it sit around for more than a few days it will get stale. You'll always see an expiration date on my coffee. Once you have a great cup of freshly roasted coffee it's an epiphany.
Why is coffee getting more attention at restaurants now?
M: More (restaurant owners) are thinking about it as one of the things they [must] have that's really good. You can't go telling people about the amazing local meat and vegetables you have and then turn around and serve what got dusted off the floor at the roaster. You talk to people who love coffee and they refuse to order coffee at some restaurants because they don't want it to ruin the experience of a great meal.
Does our city's role as a coffee port make your job easier?
M: It's a blessing and a curse. I have access to a lot of great coffee here and don't have to deal with shipping it around as much. But the curse is, because there is a coffee culture here, everyone already has their minds made up about what makes great coffee and their brands. I see coffee as a ritual. It's near and dear to people's hearts and for many of us it's the first thing we put in our bodies every day. I take that seriously, so I want that be to a really phenomenal experience. — IAN MCNULTY