Happy birthday, Mississippi!
200 years ago this December, Mississippi officially upgraded from Territory status and became America’s 20th state. It’s been a long, complex, and unique two centuries since, but there’s been at least one constant throughout: coffee.
It goes without saying that the history of Mississippi is inextricably linked to its namesake river. As the largest river system in North America, the Mississippi was an important trade route from the earliest days of European settlement. The port city of New Orleans, founded in 1718, quickly became a hub of commerce and trade in the Territories, and coffee planters from Central and South America found that the mouth of the Mississippi was the closest and best option for caffeinating the entire continent. America’s love affair with coffee started right in our backyard.
But that’s enough history. You’re probably wondering what all of this means for you on your morning commute.
To commemorate the occasion, we’ve rolled out our new Bicentennial Blend. It’s a deliciously complex mix of Honduran and Indonesian coffees, ready for you to enjoy any number of ways.
I rolled into Cups in the Quarter to put this coffee to the test with a cupping — which is basically just like a wine or beer tasting, just with a more involved and specific method of preparation (ask your friendly neighborhood barista to show you the ropes, if you want to become a true connoisseur). While I sniffed and spat and aerated and generally made a mess, barista extraordinaire Lauren opted to try it as a more civilized pour-over.
We agreed that both our cups had strong chocolate notes on the nose. We also picked up on a sweet burnt smell that reminded us of caramelized sugar, like creme brûlée or marshmallows roasting around a campfire. But who knows, maybe we’re both just looking forward to the mellow Mississippi nights in the summer months to come.
Bicentennial Blend is one of those coffees that completely changes flavors once it cools down a bit, but we agreed that was a good thing. All of a sudden, the dark, dessert-y flavors were replaced with a lighter, more fruity taste reminiscent of some of our single-origin medium roasts. Lauren described it as “juicy,” and I’d have to agree. If you’re looking for a cold drink as the weather heats up, I recommend trying Bicentennial as an iced Chemex. It takes just a moment longer to prepare than that cold brew we’ve got you hooked on, but it’s fresher, flashier, and highly Instagrammable, we think.
As a native of Jackson, Mississippi, I grew up on Cups. There really aren’t many Starbucks or Dunkins around, and I think we should all be proud that our Mississippi community is growing up alongside our little coffee shops. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to many people who have moved away from Mississippi, but still make a point to stop in for a Blondie for old time’s sake. A lot of folks buy pounds of coffee to send to friends and relatives outside the state, and more still are ordering our beans online and getting it delivered to their doorsteps all over the country.
For a lot of people (myself included), Cups coffee tastes like Mississippi. Here’s to celebrating many more anniversaries with y’all.
Written by Alex Thiel
Photos by Emily Hamblin