Since 1978, PJ’s Coffee has been a New Orleans staple. The coffee house, which has grown to about 100 locations primarily in the Southeast, brings a taste of the Big Easy to its beverages.

PJ’s sources 100 percent of its beans directly from farmers. Peter Boylan, president of PJ’s parent company, Ballard Brands, says the company roasts its own coffee to maintain control of the flavor.

“Some of the larger producers of coffee now worry much more about making sure they’re consistent across their 5,000, 6,000, 10,000 stores,” he says. “They don’t typically have as many roast profiles; they’ll roast on a darker side because it’s safer.”

Boylan says PJ’s creates signature, New Orleans–inspired roasts by flavoring the beans, noting that its Bananas Foster and Southern Wedding Cake roasts have been particularly rooted in its hometown’s heritage.

And while customers are interested in coffee beans’ source and supply practices, he says, there’s a long way to go in educating them about flavor profiles.

“One of our goals is to start developing people’s palates [so they can] appreciate the difference between a dark roasted bean from Papua New Guinea and maybe a dark roasted bean from Colombia,” he says. “We’re just at the very beginning stages of folks really appreciating the varieties that exist in the flavor profile of coffee.”

Beverage, Fast Casual, Menu Innovations, Story, PJ's Coffee