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VOL. 130 | NO. 8 | Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Coffee Shop Opening Downtown

By Andy Meek

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The Memphis coffee scene keeps expanding, thanks to additions like Dr. Bean’s Coffee and Tea Emporium.

That’s a new coffee shop a few months away from opening Downtown at 72 Madison Ave., across from The Madison Hotel. The venture is a partnership between Dr. Albert Bean and Charles Billings who plan to take a three-story building previously used for office space and which is now vacant, renovating the ground floor and basement for use as a retail coffee house and roastery.

The upper floors of the space will be converted into use for two rental apartments.

Billings said there are a few more stages the team has to pass through before construction can get started. Right now, they’re shooting for a May opening for Dr. Bean’s.

“(Bean) had been interested in the restaurant industry for a long time,” Billings said. “I was in it, and we’d talk at the end of the day. I’ve been in the restaurant industry since high school. He got the idea for a coffee shop and roastery after a few trips he’d taken to the Northwest.”

The venture already has its own roaster and plans to partner with local artisans, sourcing everything it can locally.

Billings’ restaurant experience includes stints at places like Elvis Presley’s Memphis, Bahama Breeze and TGI Friday’s. The new coffee shop, he explained, will focus on small-batch, fresh coffee – the antithesis, he explained, of some coffee shops where baristas aren’t always knowledgeable about coffee and preparation.

“We’re passionate about third wave coffee that’s as fresh as you can get,” Billings said, referring to the so-called third wave movement of coffee that treats coffee preparation with an artisanal level of care.

Dr. Bean’s also is yet another example of how local coffee offerings in Memphis continue to multiply, a trend some coffee entrepreneurs see as comparable to the craft brewery explosion. Other coffee operations on the way include one that’s part of City & State, a kind of modern-day general store opening in the Broad Avenue neighborhood soon that will be home to a craft coffee house.

The popular Downtown coffee shop and restaurant Tamp & Tap also is expanding to East Memphis. It’s planning to open in space on the ground floor of Triad Centre III at 6070 Poplar Ave. The shop – the name of which is an allusion to espresso, which is tamped for compression, as well as kegs of beer, which are tapped – applied for a building permit for the new location in December.

Meanwhile, the city’s coffee scene can also be experienced by its offerings as well as the multiplying of shops where someone can buy a cup of Joe. Customers at, for example, Tamp & Tap and Porcellino’s, a new butcher shop in Brookhaven Circle, can try a new kind of high-quality coffee called nitro cold brew.

That’s coffee with nitrogen gas dissolved into it, so that it pours like a Guinness. The nitrogen – which doesn’t dissolve well into a warm liquid, thus the coldness of the coffee – preserves the coffee, makes it last longer and gives it a fuller feel.

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