JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — A soft hum of activity from lively music, warm lighting and whirring coffee machines sets the scene. On the wall is a menu that includes items named “GA 400 Blend,” “Snowpocalypse” and “Downtown Connector.”
It’s clear you’re in a coffee shop for the community.
Although many small businesses have closed or otherwise cut operations in 2020 due to the pandemic, Peach Coffee Roasters, a cafe and roastery in Johns Creek, has continued to engage with residents and organizations through its quality coffee.
Peach Coffee Roasters, located at 10875 Jones Bridge Road, is the only Georgia coffee shop to have one of its coffees selected as a finalist for the 2021 Good Food Awards, which takes place later this month. The small business has also continued to partner with organizations — including the Atlanta Humane Society, the Howard School and the Drake House — that share their community-giving mindset. A second location, in Alpharetta’s Henderson Commons Shopping Center, is underway pending rezoning to allow for a drive-through.
“We want to meet people where they are,” co-founder David Pittman said. “We invest in the community, and when the pandemic hit, the community invested in us. There’s going to be good times and bad times for all of us. When COVID hit, there was a call to help small businesses, and the community has been nothing short of amazing.”
The shop’s Good Food Awards finalist is its Costa Rica Cordillera de Fuego coffee, which it purchases from Costa Rican coffee farmer Luis Eduardo Campos.
According to Pittman, who previously served in the military and worked for several other Atlanta coffee shops, Peach Coffee Roasters’ goal when choosing and roasting coffee beans is to pick the green, or unroasted, coffee that highlights specific countries or regions. The shop purchases beans from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Ethiopia.
“We want to create coffee that we believe represents the origin of where it came from and something that the consumer can resonate with,” Pittman said.
When Peach Coffee Roasters’ team, which includes Pittman, co-founder Landon Bonner and a team of coffee-grading staff, was trying out coffee from Costa Rica, they’d gotten through 30–40 samples when they hit one — Campos’ Costa Rican coffee — that they just knew was a special coffee, Pittman said.
Pittman and Bonner are Q Graders, those certified to be able to grade and score coffee through smell and taste. There are only 400 Q Graders in the United States.
The Costa Rica Cordillera de Fuego coffee stood out because it had a fruitiness, silkiness, sweetness and complexity that “creates a sensory experience where everything just came together,” Pittman said.
Once the team selects coffee beans, team members develop a complex, formulaic method of roasting the beans based on each coffee’s unique attributes. Pittman said the roasting process, which takes around 10 minutes, is analogous in some ways to caramelizing sugar.
Although several coffees created by Peach Coffee Roasters have won local and national awards, Pittman said the business “doesn’t get their validation from the coffee” but from “how we treat people and how we treat customers.”
Peach Coffee Roasters hires and serves on seven core values that spell out the acronym “PEACHES.” In addition to goals around environmental and social responsibility, one of the business’ key values is community involvement.
Even as the pandemic has isolated most, Peach Coffee Roasters has continued to partner with community organizations. Each month, the coffee shop donates to a local cause. For December, 3 percent of sales went to the Atlanta Humane Society. And 1 percent of the shop’s 2020 proceeds will go to the conservation group Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.
Pittman said Peach Coffee Roasters does what it can to help the community, and the community has helped them get through the pandemic.
This month, the Alpharetta Planning Commission will consider the Peach Coffee Roasters drive-through proposal in that city.
Those interested in learning more or ordering the shop’s coffee can visit peachcoffeeroasters.com.