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brewing a custom cup
Story by Shaila Creekmore Photo by Dero Sanford

Larry Billing, owner of Shadrachs Coffee and Roasting Company, describes his business as Jonesboro’s own stimulus package.


“I provide a caffeine pickup every morning,” he said.


Billing celebrated five years in the coffee business in December and said he still looks forward to making coffee every morning. A native of California, Billing moved to Jonesboro from Oregon at the recommendation of his sister.


“I was looking to open a coffee shop and my sister who lived here at the time recommended that I look at coming to Jonesboro. I did and I thought, ‘Yeah, this is a nice place.’”


Billing, a former teacher, and his wife, Risa, relocated to Jonesboro and found an empty space on Nettleton for his drive-through coffee shop.


“I loved teaching but an opportunity presented itself and a friend in the business helped show me what I needed to know about the coffee business,” said Billing. “God clearly showed me it was time to do this.”


After the birth of their son two years ago, Risa also left teaching and joined her husband in the business.


“It’s been a slow process of building up the business but I really enjoy it,” he said.


In addition to brewing coffee and espresso, Shadrachs Coffee is its own roasting company. Billing roasts all of his own beans in a building located directly behind the coffee shop. Each 25-pound batch of beans is roasted 15-20 minutes based on the type of roast. Billing also has several of his own blends unique to Shadrachs.


“One thing that really makes us unique is that most drive-through coffee shops don’t do their own roasting.”


Billing roasts beans several times a week but within limits that keeps the beans as fresh as possible.


“That’s what separates me from most shops is that it’s all fresh. You can really taste the difference,” said Billing. “I think people appreciate the freshness of it. Each cup of coffee is ground and brewed for each cup.”


The freshly roasted beans can be purchased whole and ground in various quantities. They can also be purchased and shipped to anywhere from his website. When customers make a purchase from the website, www.shadrachsroasting.com, the customer can choose for a portion of the proceeds from the purchase to go to one of three charities: Habitat for Humanity, Transworld Radio or Gospel for Asia.


Shadrachs creates its coffee flavors from 100 percent Arabica beans from 12 to 15 different countries. Billing said that the beans are unique to their location because the soil, weather and other conditions give the beans unique flavor based on their growing environment. The beans can be further enhanced based on how they are roasted, and by combining flavors to create unique blends.


Selections of blends in different roasts are posted each day for customers to select. Billing said customers may also experiment with their flavors to come up with their own favorite blend. Each month, Shadrachs offers a special available only during that month that reflects the flavor of the season.


For each customer that comes through the drive-through, the coffee beans are ground and brewed so that it is the freshest cup of coffee possible. In addition to fresh brewed coffee, Shadrachs offers latte, cappuccino, mocha, espresso, hot tea, chai, hot chocolate and steamers on the hot drink menu. For Shadrachs’ espressos, Billing said his are a little different from most coffee shops because he uses dark roast beans rather than medium roast to make them.


“The medium roast beans don’t have the bite that the dark roast gives, but I like the bite and most of my customers seem to like it, too,” said Billing.
Serving the customer is what keeps Billing brewing each morning.


“We really enjoy getting to know the customer and the relationships we’ve built with them,” said Billing. “We have great customers and it’s amazing how many of the world’s problems you can solve in a couple minutes while they drive-through to pick up a drink.”


Billing and his employees serve many regular customers whom they have formed a relationship with over the years.


“It’s a great feeling when you see a car about to pull in and you have their drink ready and made when they reach the window,” he said. “We understand that their time is valuable and we want to get them through as quickly as possible.”
Billing credits his employees for making that happen.
“They are friendly and they are very fast and efficient. Along with a great product, having great employees and great service are an important combination.”


While winter is the busy season, a menu of cold drinks keeps the customers driving through in the summer as well. Iced coffee drinks, mocha shakes, smoothies, flavored iced teas, Italian sodas and milkshakes are available throughout the year. Sno cones are also added to the menu in the summer. In addition to the Nettleton location, Shadrachs Coffee has a mobile service available for events, weddings and social functions.


For more information, call Shadrachs Coffee and Roasting Company, 3326 E. Nettleton, at 932-6448 or visit their website at www.shadrachsroasting.com. Shadrachs is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.