“Coffee is far more than a beverage. It is an invitation to life, disguised as a cup of warm liquid.” --Nichole Johnson
Kenny Pearon, owner, roaster, and head barista at Omega Coffee Company on the east side of highway 5 in Laurie lives by Johnson’s words.
Kenny put in his first retail coffee shop in 2001, and 16 years later his current shop in Laurie shows vision and commitment to customer service and a family friendly atmosphere. Comfortable, overstuffed chairs, low tables, and shelves of books invite coffee drinkers to slow down and smell the coffee, spend time with friends, meet strangers.
Coffee-lovers will find Omega hums with easy conversation and occasionally music. Kenny plays guitar and sometimes jams with fellow musicians. The walls are decorated with coffee bags and maps of the world educating customers to the history and story of the world of coffee. The Facebook page features more information, including hours of operation and merchandise for sale.
Omega Coffee Company offers 10 to 12 single origin coffee beans, a descriptive phrase meaning the beans all come from a single producer or farm in a specific geographical area. Three direct trade coffees are also available; these are coffees coming directly from a farmer who grows the coffee and produces the beans. Cutting out the importer or broker gives the shop owner better control over quality while providing better support to the farmers’ businesses and employees.
The Indian Monsooned Malabar bean is one of the most interesting. Once shipped by sail around the horn from India to arrive at European ports, this bean was often drenched in seawater and held in damp cargo holds for months. The delivery method bleached the beans and caused them to swell, thus changing the taste when brewed.
As modern shipping methods and routes brought dry beans more quickly, coffee drinkers realized the flavor suffered so now, a “monsooned” process recreates the conditions that caused the flavor profile Europe loved. A sixteen-week wet process only practiced on the coastal regions of Malabar--hence the name--now produces a light and bright coffee flavor unmatched by any other bean in the world.
At the heart of Omega Coffee is the roasting oven, a Probat commercial model, setting in a brick enclosed corner at the back of the shop. It’s an old machine from the 1950’s still serving faithfully in its duties to the master roaster, Kenny, who explained the gas burners under the barrel provide enough BTUs to heat an average home.
The Probat Burns Company produces one of the leading roasters in the world and has for over a century. One of the original engineers, Jabez Burns, fully understood the magic, mystery, and art of coffee when he said, "You do not give to pepper or ginger or cinnamon or cloves strength or quality, pungency or aroma — but Coffee you develop and by skill and judgment change from caterpillar to butterfly. You bring out hidden treasure." — Jabez Burns, from The Spice Mill
Hidden treasure continues to be sought. The quest shows itself in events such as National Coffee Day, originating in the United States in 2005 and focusing on the industry as well as the joy of the beverage. Now the day is celebrated in several countries and known as International Coffee Day to recognize the worldwide importance of the crop. American consumers alone drink about 450 million cups of coffee a day.
Medical science now informs us that coffee consumption carries benefits that far outweigh any perceived drawbacks. In The Atlantic, Dr. Peter Martin, Director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University, explained that coffee contains many substances besides the well-known caffeine, and all these provide many health benefits. Whether coffee kick starts the day or just stimulates senses, it’s one of the small pleasures in life.
A coffee shop invites customers to slow down, read, think, talk, or just enjoy a few minutes with a cup of brewed coffee. Omega Coffee right here on the West side of the lake area invites everyone to enjoy a wide selection of styles, including the recently roasted and aptly named Ken’s Blend in a great atmosphere.