Community Bakery Puts the Community Back into their Coffee Program

Community Bakery has been a neighborhood staple of south Main street long before SoMa was even a thing, it opened up on Main in 1952 after spending the first couple of years in Rose City.

They produce fantastic bread used by restaurants all over the city, delicious pastries and cakes sold in house, and a very good lunch list of sandwiches and soups. For all the great food they produce though, one thing has always lagged behind in terms of quality and that is the coffee lineup.

When I sat down with new owner John Brandenburger last year he told me that coffee was going to be one of the major areas of focus.

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“In every area of the business, we want to up the quality. We sell over thousands of cups of coffee a month, so it is an area we can make a lot of strides by raising the baseline quality of our coffee,” Brandenburger says. “We also want to really lean into the ‘community’ part of our name, and bring great coffee producers all around us into the mix.”

Community Bakery started experimenting with the concept of partnering with local coffee roasters several months ago by bringing in Guillermo’s Coffee to occupy one of their urns.

“John and I started talking a couple of months ago about how can we best leverage our brands to SERVE the community while asking the community to SUPPORT local businesses,” Guillermo’s owner Jim Alley says. “So far the customer feedback has been nothing but phenomenal.”

That partnership led Community Bakery into launching a broader partnership called Coffee for the Community, by the Community.  The idea is to partner with local coffee producers and gradually replace the coffee served at Community Bakery to locally roasted coffee and promoting those coffee brands in the process.

Currently, they are working with Leivas Coffee, Guillermo’s, Standard Roasting Co (Mylo’s roasting arm), and Blue Sail Coffee to provide beans for Community Bakery. At the same time Community Bakery is looking at ways to help promote the individual brands including an upcoming event that will introduce the coffee roasters to the community.

Another big area of focus is to promote missions and causes the various coffee companies are involved with. “What I liked was the ability to truly give Little Rock the chance to adopt a city in Guatemala and help give hope where there has never been before,” Leivas Coffee owner Geovani Leiva tells us.

The quality improvements do not stop there. Brandenburger is working with the roasters to help educate his staff on how to brew the coffee the way it was intended, and ordering new equipment to help produce a better cup of coffee. Focusing on precise measurements with the beans and brewing temperatures to create consistency and quality.

Many of the new coffee offerings are already out, the others will roll out soon. Brandenburger says he will keep a few of the Community Bakery classic coffee offerings that still have a following in some form.

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Community Bakery Puts the Community Back into their Coffee Program