New Orleans Roast is not just about coffee, although it is their specialty. For those of us who like to mix our caffeine fix between coffee and tea, Felton Jones talks to us about his innovative coffee blends as well as their new offering of premium teas.
This new tea promises to be different from other teas the company has made. “We worked directly with tea experts to develop a flair that was suitable to our palate,” said Roastmaster Felton Jones,. According to Jones, the Premium Iced Tea has a much richer flavor, different from some iced teas that have a watered-down taste. It is also different in how it presents. “When you pour it, you can see that it has a peachy-amber color; the result is a full but well-balanced and refreshing flavor.”
The difference is also illustrated in the way it is made. The tea is usually produced in a large tea bag, made in bulk with commercial equipment; due to the huge positive response from these commercial batches of tea (sold at restaurants, offices, and airports), the company is very excited that they can now offer that experience to customers in their own homes with personal-sized servings.
The response that Jones has come across in many restaurants, hotels, and other commercial places that serve the tea has been encouraging. “When I go out and eat, and I’m eating at a place where they carry our tea, I always engage the server in conversation and ask for feedback,” Jones commented. “I generally find that customers have a positive reaction to it.”
Jones’ job involves tasting all of the different coffees and teas—everything has to meet his approval before going on to be produced and sold. “That’s the fun part of the job and the tough part all in one,” he joked. “It’s a lot of pressure!”
Another part of Jones’ job is presenting the products to customers. When he goes out to meet with potential customers, his goal is not to sell them the coffee or tea, but to educate them about it. Through this education, they can see that New Orleans Roast is a good choice. “Even from the iced tea standpoint, it’s all about education,” he affirmed. Jones also dedicates a lot of his time to meeting with members of the company who work with coffee importers from all over the world. He has to make sure that they have what they need and that they do the right things with those products. “It’s my job to turn what they bring to the table into a roasted product that meets the quality standards of the company,” he said.
Some of the best coffee comes from places like New Guinea, Columbia, and—Jones’ personal favorite—Guatemala. There are a large number of factors that one has to consider when choosing coffee, like farm conditions and climate. One of the most important details is altitude. The higher the altitude, the denser the bean, and the more it will stand up to the roasting process. It also brings about deeper, more intense flavors. Also important is the amount of moisture in the air—it shouldn’t be too dry, nor too saturated. Places around the equator—particularly those that don’t get freezes in the winter—yield the best crops. The health of trees is crucial as well, seeing as bugs and insects can contaminate the coffee beans.
Once chosen, the coffee beans are then loaded into roasters (300 pounds at a time!). The roasting process is a simple heating method using hot air, and the beans are kept in motion by turning inside a large drum or barrel. It’s usually a 12-minute process, and the result is a delicious cup of coffee.
Jones, clearly a coffee expert, has been in the business for 20 years, and 17 of those years have been with PJ’s. Phyllis Jordan, the founder of PJ’s as well as its namesake, meets with Jones on a regular basis. Founded back in 1978, PJ’s is about to have its 35th anniversary in September. To celebrate, PJ’s is coming out with a new blend of coffee, appropriately named “Roast 35.” It is a roastmaster signature blend, and it is the first of its kind. Usually, about every other month, PJ’s changes their seasonal coffee: Christmas-themed, Mardi Gras, Wedding Cake, and more. Roast 35, however, is abnormal in that it is a completely new, unflavored coffee.
“Everybody’s looking forward to it and is anxious to try these coffees,” Jones said, but if you're looking for an alternate source of refreshment or energy, make sure to try the Premium Iced Tea, which comes in a variety of bold flavors like raspberry and mango.
For more information, visit their website.