With corporate America setting up Starbucks on practically every corner, it can be hard to find a coffee house that has character—a place with its own character, with drinks that taste at least a little different than those of the place down the street, and without that sense that everyone and their mother just goes there because it is popular.
By this standard, Burlap and Bean is a rare and wonderful find.
“I had known since high school that I wanted to own a coffee house,” said Tara Endicott, one of the establishment’s four owners.
The decision to open Burlap and Bean was made five years ago by Tara, her husband Brent, Brent’s brother and the brother’s wife.
“We didn’t want to be another run-of-the-mill coffee house,” Brent said.
Burlap and Bean’s emphasis on community is one of the main things that sets it apart from other coffee houses. This was the plan from the beginning.
“We wanted to be equally invested in the community as they were to us,” Tara said.
One way they do this is by supporting local artists. They host events like open mic nights, every Thursday at seven, and nights of musical entertainment on the first Friday of the month. They sell artwork and homemade purses, all created by local artists. The pastries are also made from scratch by local businesses.
But, most important of all, there is the coffee. All of Burlap and Bean’s coffee is one hundred percent certified organic and Fair Trade, meaning that the workers who grow and harvest it are given wages that they can live on. Knowing that coffee is impacting the farmers’ lives is important to both Tara and Brent.
“Coffee is the second most traded commodity,” Brent said.
The vast majority of commercially produced coffee is heavily sprayed with pesticides. Because the coffee bean is so porous, it absorbs these chemicals, serving as a neat little delivery system to bring those compounds to our morning cups of joe. As one might guess, this can be very harmful to our bodies.
Burlap and Bean, on the other hand, roasts its coffee itself, on-site, buying the beans from a dozen different countries for variety’s sake but vetting every vendor to ensure that every last bean is the real deal.
In addition to the café, Burlap and Bean coffee is sold wholesale and in about ten Whole Foods Markets. In every venue, the company’s goal is not only to serve a good cup of coffee, but also raise awareness about how coffee is manufactured and the impact it has on the environment and on the people who produce it.
As for the décor, Tara explained that Burlap and Bean follows the what she calls the ‘third place’ concept: “Everyone has a third place—home, work, local bar—wherever you go to hang out.” To encourage customers to make Burlap and Bean their “third place,” the four owners made it as warm and inviting as possible.
The walls are painted various shades of brown, beige and burnt sienna. Naturally, burlap coffee bags hang like tapestries. The main tables and chairs are all wooden. To complete the look, a leather sofa and two matching chairs are cozied up to a coffee table and a faux fireplace, creating the sense of stepping into a living room.
Burlap and Bean is clearly a special place, and its focus on community gives customers the sense that they are doing more than simply buying coffee: They are bettering the world, one coffee bean at a time.