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Spice of Life: Coffee lovers in for a treat at Stellar Beans

Last Modified: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 9:25 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Let’s flirt with our collective senses today.

Think about drinking a warm beverage from an exotic local first. Now consider the feeling of euphoria that resonates deep inside your soul immediately after taking a few sips of this Caribbean elixir that has a sweet and nutty flavor.

Do you see it? Can you taste it?

I offer Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee as the source of that amazing moment.

Stellar Beans is now offering the coffee — not every day — which is roasted by Orleans Coffee Exchange based in New Orleans.

Last Saturday, Matt and Valerie Smith — owners of Stellar Beans — hosted a coffee tasting featuring five coffees from the company: Jamaica Blue Mountain, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Brazil Buena Vista, Sumatra and Tanzanian peaberry.

This is an important moment in the city’s coffee culture, which is dominated by Community Coffee and Starbucks. Stellar Beans’ owners’ intentions are to supply an artisanal Louisiana-made product in an area where big brands and franchises reign.

“We are all about quality and supporting local businesses. If I can switch to a roaster from Louisiana, that just adds an extra level of feel-good in me,” Matt Smith said. “Ultimately, we think the roasting they do is evidently different from what we are used to. They are able to get different flavors that we love.”

The Smiths are also impressed with the enthusiasm Orleans employees have about the coffee-roasting process.

Orleans’ management and roasters are sticklers for creating relationships with customers that go beyond just selling a bag of beans.

Kirk Knipmeyer was the company’s expert during the Lake Charles tasting. He explained that detailing to the public how coffee is prepared for consumption is a joy.

“You see the eyes of people who taste our coffee and their eyes widen. They get excited. All it takes is just one good cup,” he said.

Educating coffee lovers on the finer points of the industry also brings Knipmeyer delight.

Like a wine expert, Knipmeyer goes into detail about the origins of coffee beans, how they were harvested and roasted, packaged and eventually made available for public consumption.

“What people need to understand is that the story of coffee is the story of people. I like to talk about all the steps — from the farmer to the roaster — who helped get a person a special cup of coffee,” he said.

Smith intends to gradually increase the amount of Orleans coffee that will be offered in Stellar Beans.

“They are really enthusiastic about their product. You have to love that,” he said.

Rest assured, if you have not tasted Orleans coffee, then you are in for a treat.


Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at or 494-4090.

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