Taste – March/April 2020
By Griffin Nelson | Photos By Sara Wise
I remember as a child being allowed occasionally to drink what we called “coffee-milk.” It was probably 99% milk with a drop of coffee that darkened the color slightly. But getting to participate in this obviously important daily ritual with the grown-ups made me feel special and included. The memories flood back as I listen to Brian Beard, co-owner of Saturday Morning Coffee Co. with his brother Ben Beard, talk about drinking coffee with their granddad in their cabin in the mountains of North Georgia – a memory so important he’s even held onto those same mugs all these years later.
When he was a little older, Brian would go get coffee with his dad on Saturday mornings, a habit he looked forward to each week as an opportunity to spend time with their dad, who worked long hours. As he grew older, coffee would continue to be a part of his and Ben’s shared familial culture, and they added to their knowledge base by learning more and more about how coffee is grown, packaged and consumed in other cultures and countries.
Brian would eventually join the Marine Corps Reserves, and Ben would attend the University of North Georgia, keeping them both busy, but not so busy that they couldn’t start their own business. Brian had started learning how to roast his own beans while stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Though it doesn’t take a lot of machinery to get started, it does take some finesse. “It’s part art and part science,” he said as he takes a deep dive into the world of roasting. Everything from the water content of the beans, where they were grown, their flavor profile and variety, roast time down to the second, whether it’s the first batch or the fifth for that day – any small change can alter the taste of the coffee.
Saturday Morning Coffee Co. officially got its start in early 2019, selling direct-to-consumer at farmers markets, but the demand quickly rose, and the brothers are preparing to expand. Based out of Winder, the beans can currently be found at Harvest Corner Market in Monroe and Joy Co. Market in Braselton. Their coffee is also served at Rising Donuts in Loganville and recent Athens Magazine feature Kiki’s Bakeshop in Watkinsville. As I sit here drinking a cup of their coffee – these days with zero milk added – I can’t help but be impressed at the work that goes into creating each and every perfectly nostalgic cup.
If you grew up in the South, you surely grew up eating biscuits. If you didn’t grow up in the South, I surely hope you’ve managed to have a few. If you know what’s good for you, then you know they’re the ultimate staple – flaky but firm, perfect with butter and jam or covered in gravy, savory or sweet, they’ll leave you feeling full and satisfied whether they’re drop biscuits or rolled. The recipe looks easy, but they never turn out as good as your grandmother’s. Biscuits are a way of life in the South.
When Iwalani and Mike Farfour decided they wanted to start a food truck providing breakfast to their fellow farmers at the Athens Farmers Market in 2015, they spent a lot of time deciding what to feature. The food needed to be hearty, easy to eat with the hands if necessary, versatile and, of course, something that everyone loves. Biscuits were the obvious choice. Four years later, and with weekly lines of people waiting for up to an hour for fresh biscuit sandwiches on Saturday mornings, the couple decided to expand and opened a location of The Farmcart on Baxter Street on May 1, 2019.
With Iwalani’s background as a farmer and Mike’s capabilities in the kitchen, they haven’t given up on their farmers market roots and continue to serve that community. But the addition of a full kitchen and gorgeous dining space and patio have allowed them to reach deeper into Athens and expand their menu. Iwalani’s mother, Carole, who has a background as a baker, has come on to take charge of the biscuits themselves (so they really do taste as good as your mom’s), allowing Mike the time to come up with unique combinations and Iwalani the time to network with other local farmers, making sure that each and every ingredient is top-quality. Even the coffee has been vetted, and they serve 1000 Faces daily, with everything from drip coffee to lattes. The Farmer (named for Iwalani) is a local favorite. It has Anderson Farms Sausage, a fried egg, cheese, microgreens and house-made rosemary habanero jam. The Carolina Boy (named for Mike, who grew up in Aiken, S.C.) features pulled pork, Carolina mustard sauce, a fried egg and apple dill slaw.
If you’d rather make your biscuits at home but want to make sure they’re perfect, you can even pick up The Farmcart’s own biscuit mix, made with the same organic flour used at the restaurant. If you don’t have time to make them yourself or sit down, you can pick up an order to go or, better yet, just have your whole tailgate catered – because what’s better than one great Southern tradition meeting another?
Harvest Corner Market was one of the first places to carry Saturday Morning Coffee Co. coffee.
Sixteen-ounce bags of coffee beans are available there, in addition to nifty pre-packaged single-cup and disposable pour-over packets for when you’re on the go!