Northshore Coffee’s Trey Malone has been appreciating and exploring coffee since he was a kid. The Mississippi and Louisiana-based roaster focuses on coffee that is thoughtfully roasted and brewed, and sourced with an eye towards sustainability and growing collaborative relationships with coffee farmers. We talked with Malone about how Northshore got its start, how he champions specialty coffee in The (capital “T”) South, caffeine-fueled parties catered out of a repurposed ambulance, and the batch brewer he relies on for brewing consistently delicious cups his customers love (hint hint). Read on and get to know Trey Malone and Northshore Coffee!
Hi Trey! Can you tell us where you are located and how you had your first cup of coffee this morning?
Hi! I’m currently in my home in Jackson, MS. This morning, my wife and I had a great cup of coffee! I made a lovely Chemex for us this morning and it was spectacular.
We’d love to know how you first came to coffee. Do you have a specific moment you recall where you knew that you wanted to learn more about coffee or work in the industry?
I’ve been drinking coffee since I was a kid. I’ve always had a love for it, but in college I saw some videos produced by Intelligentsia about specialty coffee and was hooked. There wasn’t any specialty coffee in Mississippi at that time, but after college, my wife and I moved to St. Louis and a friend of mine would bring his pour over set up to my work on slow Friday afternoons and make me coffee from some of the best roasters in the nation. I remember experiencing flavors that I didn’t even know existed in coffee and being completely enamored.
What is the story behind Northshore coffee? How did the business come to be, and what do your retail, wholesale, and event branches of the business each offer customers?
My business partners used to be in the oil and gas industry and sold their company several years ago. We had been friends my whole life, but in 2022 they approached me about helping them start a cafe/roastery. Although my entire career had been in coffee, this would be the first retail cafe and roastery I had ever officially opened.
Our retail brand is Haven Coffee and Cocktails and we have our first location in Downtown Covington, Louisiana. Haven offers an elevated experience of craft coffee, cocktails, and bites in a comfortable, non-assuming environment. Our wholesale brand, Northshore Specialty Coffee offers wholesale roasting of top-tier and ethically-sourced coffee. We have two roasting locations in Covington, LA and Jackson, MS. Both of our roasting locations operate independent coffee trucks for community events and pop ups.
What is Northshore’s approach to roasting? Do you have a specific style you follow, and what nuances do you look for in a finished batch?
Our approach to roasting isn’t super unique to the specialty industry. We try to bring in as many unique and interesting coffees we can find through our many import and direct trade partners. Our job as roasters and brewers is simply to clean the window to the soil and the seed to let the coffee’s unique properties shine through (how many times have you heard that line? lol).
Being in The South, there isn’t a large amount of specialty coffee roasters. This allows us to be a part of a tight-knit community promoting craft coffee in our area. We try to find coffees that the consummate aficionado will enjoy as much as the Folgers drinker. As such, we try to strike a balance between new and exciting flavors (anaerobics, co-ferments, etc.) and the taste you “expect” from a cup of coffee.
Do you have a favorite way of brewing your coffees, and when someone brews and tastes a coffee from Northshore at home, what can they expect?
In our cafes, we don’t do pour overs because we have perfectly calibrated batch brewers that produce excellent coffee. However, at my house, I typically stick to a Chemex. Our customers ask us all the time how to make their coffee at home taste as good as what’s in our cafe. After telling them they need to buy a Ratio brewer (*wink), I try to move down the line of the top things that will move the needle for a tasty cup i.e.: a good grinder, better water, and especially not keeping your brewed coffee on a hot plate!
When our customers brew our coffee at home, we want it to meet them where they are. We definitely want to engage the coffee connoisseur with exciting and unique flavors, but we are just as passionate about converting the “hot and black” drinker or the “milk and sugar” drinker from the dark side to the ways of the force.
We love that you built a coffee truck out of a repurposed ambulance! What kind of events do you cater, and what can event attendees expect?
It’s awesome! The lights and sirens still work which makes for a grand entrance into a block party. Since we have a lot of hot days in The South, most of our offerings consist of cold brew drinks (we oftentimes won’t even offer hot coffee in the summer). But in the winter time, we break out our La Marzocco mini and sling some ‘spro! People in The South like to party, so we try to hit up any community event we can!
What is your process for sourcing coffee, and how have you developed and nurtured your relationships with coffee growers over time?
Since Northshore is only a year old, we’re still building several of our relationships, however, 2024 will be an exciting year for Northshore’s direct trade efforts. We have an origin trip to Nicaragua planned in Q1 and a trip to the Dominican Republic planned for Q2 to help establish a co-op there. We’ve been fortunate to have many wonderful producers reach out to us and build some strong relationships even within the last year and we’re looking forward to visiting each of them at their farms and continuing that effort.
What’s next for Northshore coffee and where would you like to see the business go over the next few years?
We’ve got a big year planned for Northshore! We’re looking to open up our second retail shop and have several key partnerships on the horizon. We’re honestly just excited to be doing something we’re truly passionate about and continuing to see people in our communities share that passion with us and join the journey!