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Taste – March/April 2020

SIP

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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.

EAT

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?

ARTISAN

There’s nothing I love more than a good road trip. It doesn’t have to be far – you can just step outside the comfort of your neighborhood or city limits and see what the world has to offer. Small towns are usually my favorite. There are small museums, friendly people and my favorite: markets with local produce and handmade goods. It’s almost as if, because they haven’t been as touched by big-box stores and chains, they’ve managed to retain an appreciation for hard work and quality, and that appreciation can be seen in a vine-ripened tomato, canned pickles or handmade soap.

Harvest Corner Market in Monroe is just a 30-minute drive from the center of Athens. (I know some of you spend that long sitting in line to pick your kids up from school.) Despite having just opened in May 2019, it already has a revolving door of regulars, plus people who stop by on their way through town. Tammy Chandler, who owns the store with her husband, Rodney Stone, points out that there’s really something for everyone. The locals who have lived nearby for decades love the reliability of local goods made by people they grew up with. And the younger generation is in the midst of a handmade revival, wanting to learn more about where their food comes from and the work that goes into it.

The shelves are stocked with a rotation of fresh fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, kale, collards, squash and potatoes from local farms. Even the few things that can’t be grown here, like oranges and bananas, don’t come from any farther away than Florida. There are Whiskey Dill Pickles by Beast Little Cannery, out of Lilburn; candles by Reba Rose Sweets and Treats in Monroe; jellies and salsa made by Sutton’s Choice, out of Bethlehem; tallow soap by Marlowe Farms in Monroe; and Carrot Mountain Dog Treats, out of Grayson, just to name a few. Chandler herself has built relationships with all of the store’s vendors through farmers markets and other events that she attends in addition to running the market. She also makes candied nuts and seasoned nut mixes and her famous pork rinds. She has 23 different flavors she tries to keep in stock, like buffalo ranch and sweet barbecue, but frequently sells out of her most unique flavors, like peanut butter and jelly. Saturdays are tasting days, so you can try everything in the market while you shop for the week. It’s easily worth the short road trip!

LAGNIAPPE

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!