Black-owned Billie Joe Coffee in Grand Prairie aspires to cafe greatness
Billy Joe Brown started roasting coffee at home as a hobby and now has his own coffee shop: Called Billie Joe Coffee Co., it's an artisanal shop in Grand Prairie, at 1015 Ikea Pl., which Brown opened in December 2021.
Brown started his journey by bringing the coffee beans he roasted at home to his job as manufacturing procurement in the aviation industry. His coworkers loved it and would urge him to open a shop.
So he started selling bags, under the brand name Apprentice Coffee Roaster, at the Grand Prairie Farmers Market, where he received the same positive feedback and encouragement.
In December 2021, he took the big step and opened the shop.
The name is his but with a twist: He and his wife have two daughters, and he wanted to name the oldest daughter Billie Joe. The couple decided on another name, but when it came time to open the shop, she suggested going back to his idea.
It seemed a better fit than Apprentice a name that had run its course, given the experience he'd gained from running his roasting business.
Their menu includes the currently popular assortment of flavored lattes such as Cracker Jack latte, cinnamon roll latte, and cereal milk latte, as well as espresso-based drinks such as cappuccinos, plus teas and iced drinks.
They use the same beans for drip coffee and espresso, since this allows customers to taste the nuances of the same coffee in the different ways it is prepared.
The food menu is limited to breakfast sandwiches plus pastries including croissants, Danish, croffles (croissants pressed as waffles), provided by local bakery Kitchen Alchemist. The focus continues to be excellence in coffee roasting and preparation.
The logo of his shop is a goat, and he says that works as a north star for him as his dream is to become the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) in the business.
"It's also a hint to the origins of coffee in Ethiopia, which I consider the GOAT of coffee," he says.
Brown is heavily interested in experiments that defy conventional coffee-making methods. One project is a partnership with Fort Worth-based Trinity River Distillery Home of Silver Star Spirits to store coffee beans in bourbon barrels for additional taste.
"I see a lot of parallels between coffee and wine," he says.
They currently source their green coffee from a wholesale vendor, but Brown has plans to travel to El Salvador and Guatemala to meet growers and buy direct, then showcase one country with all its many varieties.
"There are not many people of color that roast and own shops, and I can relate to the people I buy coffee from," he says. "It’s a kindred spirit that makes me feel good."