By Kendyl Hollingsworth
For the Opelika Observer
Coffee lovers in Opelika will soon be able to rejoice as they welcome Mama Mocha’s, an Auburn-based coffee shop and roastery, into the downtown Opelika community in coming weeks.
The new location will mark the first major expansion for the artsy and eclectic coffee business run by Sarah ‘Mama Mocha’ Gill and her husband, Taylor.
“The gas line was just put in, and most of the important, big-ticket items are done with the renovation,” Sarah said. “Hopefully it’ll be in the next few weeks when we really start moving our product in and getting our process down.”
Sarah’s vision for the Opelika location at 715 First Ave. includes an indoor/outdoor café, an espresso bar and a laboratory that will offer public courses.
“The 2018 goal for that lab is to offer public courses to taste coffee and to cup coffee, and to bring people kind of into our world because it won’t be open to the public except for these courses,” Sarah said. “I’m excited about the lab. That’s kind of my baby.”
The original Auburn location on Gay Street will remain open for business, but all of Mama Mocha’s roasting operations will be expedited to the larger Opelika location.
Taylor, who serves as the chief production officer for Mama Mocha’s, manages a roasting team consisting of himself and three other people. Taylor said Mama Mocha’s roasts coffee beans from several countries in South America to as far as Indonesia.
“Anywhere that grows coffee, we’ve pretty much tried it,” Taylor said. “Whether or not we sell it, we’ve at least tried it.”
Sarah said her experiences working in other coffee establishments, as well as her own research and practice in roasting, helped her make Mama Mocha’s what it is today.
According to Taylor, all of Mama Mocha’s roasts come from Sarah’s recipes. “She’s the one that knows the roasting. Whenever we have a question, we resort back to her. She is the ‘mad scientist’ back there,” Taylor said.
Experimentation and happy accidents at Mama Mocha’s have sometimes resulted in the creation of a new blend. The ‘Baby Bell’ is one such blend, which Sarah said has a lighter roast profile compared to the single-origin Sumatra Mandheling, which is typically a spicier, darker roast.
Taylor said he is excited to have a much less crowded space for roasting.
“We’ve outgrown that drastically. I’m ready to move in over here (in Opelika). We’ve got a much more open floor-plan here.”
Sarah held a pop-up last Friday at the new location, an event that she believes will “build our community partnerships and just love on First Avenue and get to know all of our neighbors and sell coffee, and just kind of bring good vibes down here—Mama Mocha vibes—before we get started for real.”
During the pop-up, Sarah said her clientele had mostly been Opelika business owners coming out to show their support by buying a coffee.
“I’m excited that Opelika is so much like that, and it’s that way, because I do have some business owner friends in Auburn that (say) it is nothing like downtown Opelika,” Sarah said. “There’s some relationships here—very loyal.”
According to Taylor, Mama Mocha’s is already working with several businesses in Auburn and downtown Opelika, and they even ship their coffee to clients across Alabama, the Southeast and the country.
Mama Mocha’s plans to have a party to celebrate the opening of the new location, and updates on that information and other events can be found on their social media pages. There will also be a cocktail party for wholesale clients.