LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - A small business in Long Beach is branching out by roasting, grinding, and packaging its own coffee and tea. The products are shipped to restaurants and coffee shops across South Mississippi and New Orleans.
The unmistakable aroma hits you the moment you walk in the door. A small building in downtown Long Beach is where coffee seeds, better known as beans, transform into products you see on store shelves or in your favorite mug.
Shawn Montella recently converted an old garage in downtown Long Beach into a coffee packaging plant. His brand of coffee is "Coast Roast".
"We wanted to promote the coast obviously, and we're like, we live on the coast, it's roasted on the coast, let's go with this. And I think it took off," said Montella.
It certainly has taken off. Coast Roast is sold to restaurants, casinos, and coffee shops across South Mississippi and the New Orleans area.
It all began in a small coffee shop on Jeff Davis Avenue. At the suggestion of his wife, Montella opened Bankhouse Coffee in 2001.
His mentor was a man from the Kiln who taught him the art of roasting coffee and even helped him buy and restore a 100-year-old roasting machine.
"It's embarrassing to say I didn't have a long term plan other than we were going to open a coffee shop and we were going to see where it went. And to imagine having a wholesale business, no, no," said Montella.
That changed four years ago, when Montella teamed-up with Kevin Pedeaux to expand the business. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, he roasts and grinds between 500 to 1,000 pounds of coffee seeds a day. The coffee is delivered fresh every Thursday.
"It comes from a seed, whether it's Columbian or Brazil or Guatemala. Every bean is roasted different, so it's very interesting. There's never a boring moment. I love it," said Montella.
Montella is now restoring another old roaster.
"We do about 100 pounds an hour now. We'll be able to double that. Yeah, I'm excited," he said.
Business seems to be perking up. Coast Roast is now shipped to coffee shops in Texas, Florida, even New Jersey.
"I mean, we have a coast product going to the north, it's pretty neat. What are the chances? We're a little coffee shop who started roasting here, and now we have a little plant, and we're shipping to other parts of the United States, so pretty wonderful," said Montella.
Montella also packages his own special blend of Coast Roast iced-tea products. He is hoping to open another coffee shop somewhere in north Mississippi or New Orleans.