By Kinley Beshers
For the Opelika Observer

Boonie Hat Coffee Company is open and thriving in downtown Opelika — offering multiple vendors, unique flavors and increasing products and services.

Boonie Hat owner, Luis Saavedra, became interested in coffee roasting 10 years ago, when his wife motivated him to watch YouTube videos that gave instruction on how to use popcorn poppers to roast coffee beans for fresh coffee.

Saavedra was approached by Market Street Paint Shop owner, Jim Bryson, during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss opening a location for his brand, shared with Saavedra’s homemade coffee.

Saavedra earned a degree in college for studio art, which inclined his interest in opening the shared location.

Saavedra had considered making and building the brand for his coffee, but finally made the jump after speaking with Bryson.

“This is something I’ve had in the works for a long time … I had a friend who was a graphic designer, he designed that [Boonie Hat Coffee Company] logo about eight years ago. Everything fell into place at about this time,” Saavedra said.

Along with Saavedra and Bryson, certified interior decorator, Aspen Staeck, also operates in the Boonie Hat Coffee Company location.

Staeck offers a line of fabrics and furnishings not found in stores and also has access to many vendors.

Staeck helped design the Boonie Hat location with Saavedra. She gave him a couple of options in his price range and helped him choose what was best for the brand and operation, which is how she provides service to all of her customers.

Boonie Hat has been open since late March and has “exceeded expectations,” according to Saavedera.

“Every week, it continues to grow and grow,” he said.

“In here, it’s a little bit more of the creativity. You sit here and look at the paint colors and drink some coffee; and talk to Aspen about decorating or me about painting, and it’s a good, relaxing atmosphere,” Bryson said. “Some coffee shops are just so crazy and loud and you don’t feel relaxed – some are just so quiet. In here, it’s just such a laid back atmosphere. People talk, people hang out.”

Boonie Hat offers Brazilian Swiss water coffee, specifically brewed at the location to offer the best, fresh and smooth flavors.

Boonie Hat also offers bags of coffee beans for their customers too, each of them dated to prevent selling expired coffee.

Coffee beans expire and lose their best flavor after three weeks of being roasted, and there is no way to slow the process, Saavedra said.

The coffee beans at Boonie Hat are brewed in an air popper, located in a “roaster room” in the back of the shop.

The coffee beans are poured into the machine, the machine wafts the beans and produces a smooth coffee instead of an over-roasted or burnt coffee.

Saavedra prefers roasting with a convection method, so the inside and outside is roasted at the same time.

Boonie Hat Coffee Company offers dairy, soy and oat milk options as add-ins for their coffee.

The company sells roasted-regular and decaf coffee, pastries, hot teas, frappes, smoothies, hot chocolate, espresso drinks and newly introduced artisan pops.

Boonie Hat’s artisan pops are offered in a wide variety of flavors, including gluten and dairy-free options.

Flavors include Avocado Chocolate Pecan, Chocolate Mint Oreo, Salted Caramel, Birthday Cake, Strawberries & Cream, Mexican Vanilla Coffee, Chocolate, Mango Lassi, Strawberry Lemonade and Cookies & Cream.

Saavedra’s wife makes the pops daily, before and after store hours.

Saavedra has been in Auburn since 2012. He was originally in the military, then took a job in the ROTC department at Auburn University.

Roasting coffee beans after gaining experience working in and for the military, Saavedra got the idea to base his brand on a boonie hat. Saavedra explains that the boonie hat is used often by people in the military, and he wants to use his brand to show acknowledgment and appreciation toward those people.

“There’s a lot of people that are kind of unseen; that kind of make our way of life possible,” Saavedra said. “We get so used to having them there, that we look past them. But they keep stuff rolling.”

Shop local, support vendors and experience deliciousness and creativity at Boonie Hat Coffee Company, located at 116 S. 8th St., Suite 101 in downtown Opelika.

Store hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.