FLORENCE, S.C. -- When Mel and David Brown decided to start an all-organic, high-quality coffee pop-up shop in Florence, it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was researched and intentional, just like the couple’s current plans to move forward with a brick-and-mortar location.
“It’s the time for Florence; it’s growing and beaming,” Mel said. “The community is wanting more and asking for more. The electricity is amazing, and we’re happy to be a part of it. The wonderful response we’ve had from the people of Florence to our pop-up coffee is why we’re moving forward with the brick-and-mortar, because we think it’s our time, too.”
The former corporate-retail employees knew it was important to be patient in business and wait for the right opportunities. They brought that research mindset with them to Florence nine years ago and knew when they started seeing the revitalization of the city that it was time to invest in the community they had come to love.
“We see that Florence is starting to get its own niches, which is a great sign of continuing growth,” Mel said. “For instance, Florence didn’t know it needed a gourmet taco bar, but there it is, and the guys at King Jefe are killing it! That’s how you know we’re growing. Entrepreneurs are investing, and we are so thrilled to be a part of that variety.”
In the case of Bean Bar, variety means handcrafting custom drinks for every single customer, using 100 percent organic ingredients, including their own made in-house simple syrups and chocolate. Each drink is perfected down to a science, using exact ratios of espresso and milk or tea blends, so that customers get consistency along with Bean Bar’s stellar customer service.
“My husband and I are trying to show the passion we have in running a business and being part of the community through the products we provide and the interactions we have with each customer,” Mel explained. “We want our aesthetic to be corporate-like in the sense that we get the product right every time, but then we try to humanize it by creating the feeling of unity and a home community.”
As the duo settles into their current pop-up location at Naturally Outdoors on Palmetto Street (where they will also build the new brick-and-mortar location in the coming months), they are starting to expand the menu as a sign of things to come. First on the menu are matcha cookies and a traditional chocolate chip cookie — made with all-natural, organic ingredients, of course.
“The matcha cookies are a perfect example of how we’re going to be just a little different,” Mel said. “Using quality ingredients is extremely important to us. We have lost people in our family to cancer, and it inspired us to learn the benefits of removing chemicals and other harmful ingredients from our food and drinks. Of course our goal is to do that while still ensuring that the taste and quality of everything we make is top of the line.”
That message has been well-received in the Pee Dee, as David and Mel have seen customers returning time and again specifically because they know they can trust Bean Bar’s products to adhere to a certain quality and consistency. They even have customers who have very strict dietary needs that seek them out intentionally, Mel said.
Bean Bar was even voted into second place behind Krispy Kreme for the best coffee in town in the annual Best of the Pee Dee rankings by the Morning News and SCNow.com. When Mel found out from the Morning News employee that Bean Bar had earned second place, she shouted, “That’s amazing! We’re No. 2 behind Krispy Kreme?” The employee laughed and said, “If only everyone could take being No. 2 this well.”
Quality coffee is not the only reason Bean Bar has grown a loyal following. Stop by on a Saturday morning and you will quickly see that every person who comes to see Mel and David for a coffee fix is there for more than just a specialty drink.
From the moment they walk in, customers are greeted with big smiles from two people who have become friends or even a new part of their weekend ritual. As Mel puts in each person’s order, which she often already has memorized, David starts creating fresh shots of rich espresso, all while the pair catch up on what’s been going on in the customer’s life during the week and what their weekend plans are after they leave.
It’s easy to see how, once Bean Bar’s permanent location is complete, it will become a place to spend time and gather with friends and not just another drive-through coffee spot. But don’t worry: you will still see Bean Bar pop up at special events around town, even after they put down roots.
“Once we’ve had a chance to settle into our permanent spot and we’ve determined that we are consistently serving what our customers need and want, then we will definitely still attend special events as a pop-up,” Mel said.
For now, they are waiting for approval from the city of Florence to start building. In the meantime, David and Mel are just excited about how far they have come.
“It’s a great adventure that we’re going on,” Mel said. “There are no words for how thankful we are. We’re enjoying every moment of everything we are doing, and we are so grateful to be a part of Florence growing. We just say to each other, ‘Let’s be a part of it as much as possible.’”