Hearing the story of why coffee shops open in different parts of our great state is obviously something I enjoy doing and something that simply never gets old. The experience at “Hard Bean Coffee” and hearing the heart behind who they are and why they do what they do was one of my favorite stories so far. Part of the reason I enjoyed it so immensely was the company we were with. Madison and I spent the weekend visiting our great aunt and cousins in south east Texas and they were gracious enough to look up a coffee shop in the relative area for all of us to visit together. The “Hard Bean Coffee” shop is located in Lumberton, which is about 20 miles north of Beaumont. When you pull up the shop that is located in a strip center, the first thing that catches your eye is the cute black, white, and red sign. I like when things make a statement and the sign definitely does just that. Walking through the shop you are automatically met with the delicious smell of fresh ground coffee and scrumptious baked goods. The ordering and pick-up counter is located at the front, right as you walk into the shop, which I like because the menu is available right as you walk through the door. The main coffee menu is on chalk board material in a beautiful gold frame. There is a little white board to the side with the lunch specials and a little black board with special drinks of the month like the Pumpkin Carmellow or Pecan Pie. The glass case had plenty of incredible looking desserts and pastries that we later learned were mostly made on site. The owner gets to the shop around 3 a.m. many days to start baking for the day. There are cake pops, pumpkin bread, cupcakes, macaroons, and even more that were not displayed. Something cool in the shop near the front counter was a television that displayed a slide show of different drinks, desserts, breakfast items, and lunch items you could purchase. I think this is such a great idea because the pictures gave customers ideas of different items that the coffee shop offers and shows them items that they might want to order. The coffee shop has a very comfortable feel with the walls being a cream and fall burnt orange color. There are tables and chairs, comfy leather couches, and a bar to accommodate people wanting to socialize, work, or meet. Around the shop are a few checkers boards available for customers to play with one another. I love that fun and interaction is encouraged in this space. My cousin, Sharon, and I played a game of checkers and I regret to say that I lost. Oh well, maybe next time! There is a particular painting in the shop that is of a cross that says, “The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow”. The color scheme for the shop was based off of this painting that is displayed by the counter at the front of the shop.
We were fortunate enough to get to talk with the owner of the shop’s son and learn more about the shop that made us love it even more! “Hard Bean” has been open for about one and a half years. The owner of the shop was a retail and district manager for a large department store for thirty-three years. Looking to do something new, she saw the need for a coffee shop in Lumberton, because they lacked one. I think it is so cool when people see a need and then are moved to action in making a difference. The shop started as having strictly coffee and did not have an extensive coffee menu, lunch, or many desserts. Now the shop has an extremely extensive menu for coffee and has plenty of eating choices as well. As you may well know, this area was hit extremely hard during Hurricane Harvey a few months ago. “Hard Bean” chose to stay open during Harvey and served people with whatever they had to offer them, no matter how low in supplies they were running. Something that really touched me was a “pay it forward” at the shop that lasted all day. A woman from Houston started the “pay it forward” at the coffee shop with just $40 and then it lasted the whole day. People who were extremely affected by a natural devastation in one way or another were paying for their neighbors coffee, sandwich, or pastry. It is truly a moving experience when people so touched with tragedy, even the owner herself was touched by the flood waters of Harvey, are so open and willing to give to others. It is awesome to see that “Hard Bean” was a place where so much generosity and kindness could be shared with others during a time of loss for all.
To the “Hard Bean” customer, service is absolutely everything. You will find a Christian radio station playing in the background of the shop and the lovely Gospel centered paintings around the shop are done by their very own pastor at church. Serving the community is definitely a strong suit of this shop and they have yet another neat way they provide a service to their town. The shop as a meeting room that can reserved for just $25 an hour. If you buy coffee or pastries from the shop for the meeting then the total for that transaction will be taken off the $25 total. What a cool way to provide a space for businesses, churches, families, and other groups to meet for a very affordable price. I think it is a brilliant idea!
“Hard Bean” got its name thanks to the beans that the shop uses. The higher you go in elevation, the harder the bean and better the coffee. “Hard Bean” uses these hard beans from Costa Rica from Cafe Excellence. This is one of the first shops to have these beans below the Mason Dixon line, how cool is that?! I wanted to try an original drink at “Hard Bean” so I tried the Pumpkin Carmellow latte, which had pumpkin, caramel, and vanilla mixed in an expresso. It was actually incredible and not too sweet like I was expecting it to be. This was the first time I had heard of a drink like this and I was very pleasantly surprised. Madison ordered a caramel frozen blended drink with a yogurt base instead of ice cream. We thought it was so cool that they could substitute the ice cream base for yogurt and be so accommodating. Madison enjoyed the drink very much. Our cousins ordered hot chocolate and were also big fans of the delicious drinks.
WOW! What a story and heart this shop has for the people of Lumberton and serving them. Doesn’t that make you want to stop by and give them a visit? You should, and tell them we say hello and will be back soon!
Photos by Madison Boykin