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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Local Joplin Coffee? Ask Momma Llama!

Hello. My name is Frank… and I’m a coffee snob.

I’ve been called a “snob” and a “geek” about many things: food, cigars, beer, etc. Coffee is on that list. I cannot stand a lot of coffees. For example, the stuff they have at my workplace; barf. Watered down, flavorless coffee brewed from bags of grounds that have probably been on a shelf, after leaving the factory, for months, maybe a year. Why bother? This is why I keep a small French press at my desk, and bring my own, freshly ground, coffees from home.

Ever since I read about, and noticed, the trolley sitting on a lot, amongst only a handful of businesses popping back up on Main Street in Joplin, I have wanted to try it out. I also had caught wind of some information that they were using a coffee from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The only coffee from there that I had heard about was a roasterie/café that my friend Heather RAVES about. So, this piqued my interest further. A couple of Saturday mornings ago, I finally had a chance to swing in for a try. I’m not sure why I waited so long…

When the infamous tornado ripped Joplin apart, last May, Christine Cadwell and Scott Brown lost their consignment shop. When facing the important decisions of how to carry on, and whether to rebuild, Christine received a suggestion from a cousin out east. As an owner of a couple of coffee drive-thrus, himself, he suggested she try out a coffee shop. That night, Christine thought she would check into it, and searched E-bay for “coffee kiosk”. What popped up was the trolley, located in Searcy, Arkansas. She felt it was Karma, finding it so quickly.

Scott and Christine headed south to see the trolley, and began the hoop-jumping with the city of Joplin to make sure everything would be okay with bringing the trolley in, and making it a coffee drive-thru. They got everything cleared, and began preparing for its arrival.

They attended a coffee school in Texas back in September, to get a great understanding of the world of coffee. They then began a journey to approximately 10-11 roasters throughout the Midwest, as far as New Orleans, to find the right fit for the coffee they would use and sell. They tried a roaster from Tulsa, and selected their coffee as the main component of their business. Topéca is a family owned coffee company, grown and harvested, utilizing the seed-to-cup model, in El Salvador. Topéca is roasted freshly and sold at their café in Tulsa.

In October, the trolley came to its current place of residence at 2118 South Main Street, and around December 1st, 2011, Off the Track Coffee Company opened. In addition to many various coffee drinks, they also offer pastries, sausage and egg biscuits, and several other treats. You can even purchase bags of Topéca coffee! And don’t call her Christine… she is affectionately known as “Momma Llama”! Chri.. uh, Momma Llama picked up this nickname from a friend of her daughter, Reneé, from her frequent visits to see her in law school at LSU in Baton Rouge. It’s a name that stuck, and is easy and friendly for kids to remember and relate to.

The morning I stopped by, I had the opportunity to speak with Momma Llama. She’s a great, friendly lady, and full of great information about their coffee. You can tell she has a true passion for her new endeavor. I grabbed a cup of the coffee of the day, and grabbed a mocha for my wife. My wife claims it was one of the best mochas she had ever drank. And the cup I enjoyed was fantastic! To top off the great coffee they pour, they offer a punch card rewards system; the heat sleeve around your cup has already been punched, and you just present it to get punched with each purchase. After ten punches, you get a free coffee! You can’t beat that. (Oh, and by the way, the cups my wife and I got our coffee in were paper… a much more biodegradable material than those cups from some other coffee joints!)

Off the Track’s motto is very appropriate: “Helping rebuild Joplin, one cup at a time.” I urge you to get over to the trolley and try them out. You will be supporting a local business, and supporting locally roasted, quality coffee! If you swing by there, after reading this, let them know you read about the trolley on Frank About Food!

Off the Track Coffee Company is open Monday through Friday from 6:00am to 5:00pm, and on Saturday from 8:00am to 1:00pm. You can find them on Facebook: Off the Track Coffee Company 

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