Cup of Ambition

New coffee shop on Magazine Street offers bean lovers a place to roast their own


Lens Wdi 20

Current Crop Roasting Shop on Magazine Street offers a selection of green coffee beans from around the world, as well as roasting classes, equipment and tastings.

Current Crop Roasting Shop
3931 Magazine St.
504-571-5129 // // @currentcroprs

New Orleans has long had a love affair with coffee, embracing both its rich culinary qualities, as well as the financial and business opportunities of importing and roasting the beans to destinations across the U.S.

According to a 2017 Biz New Orleans report, “More than 1.29 million tons of coffee were imported through the Port of New Orleans between 2011-15,” with millions of square feet of storage, plus roasting facilities across the area. The city is even set to host an inaugural two-day “Coffee Festival” this September, which will welcome industry professionals and coffee experts from around the world.

So, with all the caffeinated hype surrounding the Crescent City, how can everyday New Orleans coffee drinkers elevate their own at-home cup of joe? A new coffee destination on Magazine Street answers that question, giving coffee lovers and coffee explorers a new reason to embrace the bean, and make their morning cup more than just a daily habit.

On March 1, Current Crop Roasting Shop celebrated its grand opening at 3931 Magazine Street — right in between acclaimed restaurants Shaya and Lilette. The brainchild of owner John Puckett, the shop aims to offer “a hands-on learning environment for new and experienced roasters to hone their craft.

“New Orleans coffee drinkers are accustomed to dark-roasted coffee,” said Puckett. “We have enjoyed showing them the flavors and tastes they can experience from other roast levels.”

Instead of already roasted beans, Current Crop Roasting Shop offers customers a selection of green coffee beans — defined as the raw seeds of coffee cherries that have been processed but not yet roasted — from Africa, Asia, North, South and Central America, the Caribbean and Indonesia. Beans range widely in price due to scarcity and quality and can be purchased in sizes ranging from a half-pound, sample-size bag up to 5-pound bags.

In an even greater departure from traditional coffee shops, Current Crop also offers roasting classes, equipment and events. Classes cover all aspects of coffee bean roasting for all levels of experience, are kept small (limited to eight people) and cost $30 per session.

For those looking to hone their craft, the shop offers roasting equipment on site, along with everything a home roaster needs to get started.

For Puckett, getting started in the coffee biz stemmed from his own experience in roasting coffee at home.

“In 2017, I purchased Coffee Bean Corral, an e-commerce green coffee supply and home-roasting equipment business. I quickly learned that home roasted coffee is a niche market, but I had no idea how big the specialty coffee market is. I’ve learned to appreciate the quality and numerous varieties of specialty coffee.”

For Puckett and his staff of five full-time employees, developing a relationship with coffee farmers and the beans they grow is an essential part of the process of getting the best coffee to their consumers and in teaching the various aspects of the final coffee product.

“We have up to 80 various coffee beans from numerous growing regions available in our ‘Bean Library,’” he said. “These coffee beans are sourced from as many as 38 countries through direct relationships with farmers and specialty traders. The relationships at every step of the supply chain from the farmer, producer, trader, importer, exporter, buyer and supplier are very important. Each step provides unique knowledge that traces back to the farm itself. As a matter of fact, one of our farmers from Guatemala visited the store last week to cup (taste) coffees with us from this year’s crop.”

Like most agricultural products, coffee beans have a limited shelf life, so Current Crop keeps its supply stocked with fresh imports throughout the year.

“Each individual country has its own harvest season, so beans arrive at various times throughout the year,” said Puckett. “Generally, green coffee has around 15 months of freshness, give or take a couple of months. It depends on how long it rests at origin before it ships out. If it is given time to rest, its freshness can last longer.”

Two Current Crop team members, Catherine Mansell, “Certified Q-Grader” and director of products and programs, and store manager Ezra Remer lead classes and answer the many questions that customers and coffee-curious passersby may have.

“People are surprised at how easy and quick roasting a batch a coffee is,” said Puckett. “Numerous local customers have experimented with different roast levels with the same bean and found new appreciations and enjoyable flavors. Tourists come in wanting to know if we have chicory to add to their coffee back home. And yes, we do have ground roasted chicory for those that want to experience true New Orleans flavor.”

In addition to introductory classes on home roasting and cupping (tasting) as well as custom private classes, Current Crop is planning to host classes focused on New Orleans’ rich coffee history.

“Starting this summer 2023, we will be offering new classes including an intermediate roasting class, intermediate cupping class, coffee cocktails and coffee and dessert pairing classes, with many more to come. We will present industry experts, farmers and other members of the supply chain to teach classes specific to their areas of expertise. We also look forward to hosting garden clubs, book clubs, corporate events, and working with hotels for tourist events.”



Did you know? According to the Louisiana State Museum: “In the 19th century, the port of New Orleans grew from a colonial supply depot into the second largest port in the country and the fourth largest in the world during the 1840s. Sometime during the eighteenth century, New Orleans received its first shipments of green coffee from Cuba and other Caribbean Islands. As the city grew and commerce expanded, more coffee arrived from the Caribbean and South America until the port had become the second largest importer of coffee in the United States after New York by the 1840s. Today, New Orleans is the number one coffee port in the country. Around 241,000 tons of green coffee or 27.8 percent of the coffee that entered the United States in 1995 came into New Orleans. Beans are shipped here in large containers from thirty-one coffee-producing countries. This coffee is shipped out to large bulk roasters and smaller specialty roasters around the world.”