The Weekly Dish: Hard Bean Coffee

Owner Diane Martin visits with a customer

Family. That’s what you feel like when you go to Hard Bean Coffee in Lumberton. And that’s exactly what owner Diane Martin had in mind when she opened the coffee shop last February.

“I just wanted to bring a place to Lumberton that was community-oriented, that was faith-based, that we could have a place for the community to just come in, have fun and do different things,” Martin said. “We have a meeting room that we let local churches use for free, but then we also rent it out for baby showers, etc., because there was no such place in Lumberton. We wanted a place where kids could come study. We just wanted to help the community.”

The sign hanging on the wall of the coffee shop says it all: “Family is one of life’s greatest blessings.” But then again, so is coffee. And when it comes to coffee, Hard Bean doesn’t skimp on the ingredients.

“The harder the bean, the better the coffee,” Martin said. “The thing that is different about our coffee is they only pick the red cherry beans.”

According to HowStuffWorks.com, what we call a coffee bean is actually the seed of a cherry-like fruit. Coffee trees produce berries called coffee cherries that turn bright red when they are ripe and ready to pick.

“A lot of companies will go with the green bean,” Martin said. “They’re not as good.”

Martin said she chose Hard Bean because the company buys from La Minita coffee farms.

According to Martin, La Minita has farms in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Indonesia and Mexico, one of the largest coffee-producing countries in the world.

“I chose them because they do not roast their beans until I call in the order,” she said. “I’ll have the beans within two days of the order, so it’s very fresh. They’re the best beans you can get. You don’t have that burnt aftertaste.”

Although she originally inquired about franchising with Starbucks and opening a store in Lumberton, the company turned her down, claiming Lumberton was “too small for a Starbucks.”

“I said fine, we’ll find another company that will come to Lumberton,” Martin said.

Hard Bean Coffee offered Martin a complete, turnkey package to help her launch her own coffee shop. The company has built over 100 independently owned and operated coffee shops across America over the past 20 years, but doesn’t consider itself a franchise because it doesn’t charge up-front franchise fees or royalties, just a one-time fee to help entrepreneurs start their coffee shop.

Unless you are a connoisseur, it’s easy to be intimidated by the menu at coffee shops, which is why many men will order plain, black coffee, according to Martin, who explained she will walk new customers through the menu.

“Many are afraid of the menu,” she said. “When my customers come in, I tell them not to let the menu overwhelm them. Just tell me what you want and we’ll figure it out.”

What we tried

The Marilyn Monroe is a solid choice, especially if you are new to the coffee scene. The mixture of caramel, white chocolate and coconut makes this coffee a must-try. Even those who don’t care for coffee might find themselves falling in love with this “Blonde Bombshell” of a drink.

Hard Bean has great cold brew coffee, as well.

“We have a cold brew that some people take iced,” Martin said. “It’s a 24-hour brewing process, and what it does is it puts out more of the coffee oils versus the acid. So it’s very smooth, it doesn’t mess with your stomach, and nothing compares to the taste of it. Cold brew is our most popular drink.”

The coffee shop also offers great tasting and nutritious fruit smoothies.

“They’re all organic,” Martin said. “None of them have over 130 calories in them, and the calories only come from the fruit. Ours have fruit in them, (while) others are filled with additives.”

The smoothies contain five servings of fruit at one time, blending the rind, the pulp, everything into it, Martin said, “so you get all the pure vitamins.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, studies have shown that people who consume five or more servings of fruit a day have lower risk of developing heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and many other conditions.

But for those of you who want to take advantage of your cheat day, Hard Bean has you covered with German chocolate cake and key lime cheesecake offerings, and many other pastries and sweets.

The coffee shop is slowing adding lunch menu options as well including ham and cheese, turkey and cheese and chicken salad sandwiches and Hard Bean offers catering for those important events.

Be sure to check out live music on the weekends and Saturday, July 16, is karaoke night with DJ Dave. Don’t miss it! Free WiFi is also available.

The fourth Saturday of the month, Hard Bean also holds a Small Business Expo.

“I allow small businesses to come set up and sell their stuff,” Martin said. “A lot of them sell from their home or don’t really have a place to sell, so they just come set up and they do really well.”

Follow Hard Bean Lumberton on Facebook to keep up with everything happening at the coffee shop.

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