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The Roaster Spotlight feature series rolls on this week, with a new feature highlighting a small independent coffee roaster. In this latest edition of Roaster Spotlight, we spoke with Matt and Elise Higgins, of Savannah, Georgia’s very own Origin Coffee Bar. First conceived as a mobile espresso bar, Origin grew as a pop-up concept and today occupies a restored historic space in downtown Savannah, with a considered food component and charitable mission. Roasting is at the core of what they do at Origin—let’s learn more, in conversation with Origin Coffee Bar.

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Tell us a little more about the story of your company—how and when did you get started? What is your background in coffee?

Proudly started as a mobile coffee duo, Origin Coffee Bar is fueled by a commitment to focusing on the good through providing top-tier specialty house-roasted coffee and delicious brunch in a curated, inspiring space in downtown Savannah, Georgia.

Elise and I are lovers of coffee and our community. When we married, we sought high and low for a coffee offering to have at our wedding with no luck. This is where the original concept of Origin Coffee Bar was born.

Soon after launching our mobile espresso bar in 2020, we established our first long-term pop-up location in a shared event space. The team grew, and we had the opportunity to dial in our focus on providing a space for everybody and giving this business a purpose as a way to give back to our neighbors in need as well.

We do this by actively helping the homeless population of Savannah with a portion of our profits and using our excess food to provide fresh eats to that community. We also work hand-in-hand with a local outreach organization to employ refugees.

As of March 2023, we have grown into a beautiful, restored, historic space in downtown Savannah, complete with a scratch kitchen, bakery, and roastery.

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When and how did you get started roasting? Why is roasting important to your project—what does this control over the product offer your business?

As we were planning for our flagship location, we knew that we wanted to dive further into the art of coffee and wanted to have a hand in the process, from sourcing to final beverage service. This has allowed us to control the high-tier quality we aim to provide our guests all along the way.

We looked around at a slew of roaster options, and given we had a limited physical footprint, we started looking into the Bellwether. We were sold when we began researching the system more and discovered the environmental benefits, excellent customer service, and the ability to quickly equip our barista teams to assist us with production roasting.

It has also allowed us to become a roaster for other shops and cafes, which has been such a fulfilling extension of our business to equip others with quality coffee and training.

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When did you start working with a Bellwether roaster? What do you like about it? Was there a learning curve? Tell us more about your experience with Bellwether. 

We started working with our Bellwether roaster in February of this year but have been interfacing with the Bellwether team since 2021. The learning curve has been smooth, and it’s an incredibly robust and dependable roaster. With our more experienced roasters on the team, we can customize the roast as needed, add in our custom profiles, and adjust all the settings required; it also allows safety for newer production roasters to thrive as they continue to learn.

Tell us—what does being a coffee roaster mean to you? 

Being a roaster has quickly become a core element of our brand. Only a few years ago, we were a traveling mobile espresso bar without a permanent place to call home. Now, we have the incredible opportunity to provide excellent coffee and training to others from our flagship location in Savannah.

It’s also allowed our team to take control of our product unlike ever before—working with farms and local importers to source only the best organic, fair-trade, and RA-certified beans for our guests to enjoy. Being a roaster has allowed us to take a more profound pride in our work, provide more for our community, and give opportunities for growth for our incredible team members.

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Do you have a favorite coffee to roast? Is there one you find more challenging? 

I’m a big fan of fruitier, more vibrant coffee; more specifically, I’ve fallen in love with coffee sourced from Rwanda. We released a special single-origin Rwandan for our community over the past few months, and it’s quickly become a team and guest favorite. Thanks to it, everyone’s looking forward to the new specialty roasts we’ll do in the future!

Thank you. 

Roaster Spotlight is a feature series on Sprudge presented by Bellwether.

Read more Roaster Spotlight on Sprudge.