Dive into the world of fine coffee via this Alpharetta shop

Made in Georgia: Belux Coffee Roasters
Bela, a Holland Lop rabbit, sits at the feet of Lucy Liu (left) and Ben Li of Belux Coffee Roasters. The pet bunny inspired the name of their company, and his image is on their logo. CONTRIBUTED BY DEBORA FANG

Bela, a Holland Lop rabbit, sits at the feet of Lucy Liu (left) and Ben Li of Belux Coffee Roasters. The pet bunny inspired the name of their company, and his image is on their logo. CONTRIBUTED BY DEBORA FANG

“Do not open this for three days.”

That's Ben Li of Belux Coffee Roasters, handing over a 12-ounce bag of Costa Rica Tirra Tarrazu coffee that he's just roasted, and which he suggested would be good for cold brew. He's learned this particular coffee is most flavorful not on the day it's roasted, but in three days, when the beans "calm down."

The coffee inside the bag is grown in the Costa Rican canton of Tarrazu, known for its fine coffee. The beans have been honey-processed.

Honey-processed doesn’t mean there’s honey involved. It means the beans have had the skin of the “fruit” removed (think of the coffee bean as the seed inside a stone fruit, like a cherry or peach), but the beans have not been washed clean, so a little fruit remains on them. This, not surprisingly, adds fruitiness to the flavor. The processing leaves a sticky residue on the beans, hence the name “honey” processing.

Within 5 minutes of walking in the door at Belux Coffee Roasters, you've taken a deep dive into the world of fine coffee. Li and his partner, Lucy Liu, opened their Alpharetta shop in March, 2018.

Belux Coffee Roasters sells luxury, high-end coffees roasted on-site for absolute freshness. CONTRIBUTED BY BELUX COFFEE ROASTERS

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Both grew up in Taiwan. While Li started making coffee with a siphon coffee maker as a young man, Liu said she didn’t begin drinking coffee on a regular basis until she moved to Georgia 13 years ago. “We started to do more traveling, and enjoying the coffee culture wherever we went,” she said.

They learned more from friends and relatives working with high-end specialty coffees, enjoying the rich flavors and learning about all the regions where coffee is grown.

“Once we got excited, we wanted to bring that kind of special coffee to the Atlanta area,” Liu said.

The couple sources single-origin, single-farm, micro-lot, organic coffee from Central and South America, Africa and Asia. The shop’s shelves are filled with more than a dozen varieties, along with the latest in coffee brewing equipment to help customers make the perfect cup at home.

There’s also one tea available, Geisha Cascara. It’s coffee cherry tea, made from the skin and fruit, or “mucilage,” of Geisha coffee beans grown on the Cafe Granja La Esperanza coffee estate in Colombia. The coffee is known for its floral, fruity and tea-like flavors, and the fermented coffee cherries go through 36 hours of fermentation before they are dried and processed. Not surprisingly, the tea also carries honey and floral flavors.

Belux Coffee Roasters is not the kind of coffee shop where people gather to meet friends and spend hours chatting over a cup. It’s a place for serious coffee drinkers to find a favorite, and purchase cutting-edge and high-design coffee equipment.

The shelves of Alpharetta shop Belux Coffee Roasters are lined with more than a dozen varieties of freshly roasted coffee, and the latest in coffee making equipment. CONTRIBUTED BY BELUX COFFEE ROASTERS

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But, there is a counter where customers can sit and talk with Liu and Li, and sample a few roasts, to decide on the one that’s right for them.

On that counter is a siphon coffee maker, looking as much like a chemistry experiment as a way to brew coffee. An espresso machine sits behind the counter, and, on Saturdays, the couple will make lattes for those who want to enjoy their coffee in that form. The 6-kilo roaster is in a small room at the back of the shop.

A purist, Liu prefers her customers try their coffee straight: no milk, no sugar. But, she does keep a small supply of raw sugar below the counter for those who simply cannot drink their coffee black, and milk for those occasional lattes.

That doesn’t mean some customers, like Brian Scordinsky, don’t drop by just to enjoy a cup of coffee. A recent transplant from New Jersey, Scordinsky was pleased to find the shop in his new neighborhood. “New Jersey has good coffee, but nothing like this,” he said. “Great equipment, great coffee. We love that we can just drop in and have this kind of experience on the weekends.”

Belux Coffee Roasters’ narrow Alpharetta shop has a long counter, where customers can sample different coffees roasted on-site. CONTRIBUTED BY BELUX COFFEE ROASTERS

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The name and logo of the shop’s signature espresso blend, Jumping Lapin (“lapin” is French for “rabbit”), pay tribute to Bela, the couple’s Holland Lop rabbit, a Louisiana rescue bunny they found through the Georgia House Rabbit Society. “Bela brought so much joy and inspiration to our life, that when we were naming our business and designing our logo, we immediately thought about him,” Liu said.

The shop is now Liu’s full-time job, while Li comes in afternoons and Saturdays to roast coffee.

“We want to make sure we are doing our very best at what we’re doing,” Liu said.


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