PhotoGRAPHY by JENNA NEAL
As Lakeland’s first commercial roastery, Patriot Coffee has extended its reach to more than 500 Publix stores in the state of Florida, and overseas through Operation Hero Salute.
In March of 2015, Chris McArthur rolled his handcrafted wooden cart filled with the first batches of Patriot Coffee onto Kentucky Avenue in downtown Lakeland. Within an hour, he sold out of the locally roasted coffee. As an owner of Black & Brew Coffee House and Bistro, McArthur took on the endeavor of learning the craft of roasting coffee.
“For the longest time our most important ingredient was being sourced from outside of the Lakeland area. We had been hoping and waiting for a roaster to come onto the scene. One of our core values at Black & Brew is to continue to be looking for ways to raise the bar, whether it be a level of service or a level of quality we have been providing,” McArthur says.
After years of waiting for a roaster to come along, McArthur decided to venture into learning the art and science behind roasting coffee. He started by taking courses in San Francisco, eventually purchasing a small half-pound sample roaster. On his back porch, McArthur invested countless hours into perfecting the roast. From there, Patriot Coffee was born. One year later, McArthur opened the first commercial roastery in the city of Lakeland.
The coffee selected for roasting is purchased from importers in New York and Minnesota. Patriot sources coffee from some of the top-producing coffee countries in the world, including Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Colombia. The coffee is then roasted locally in Dixieland and produced in small batches. “It’s really important for us that we work with people who are respecting the farmers. They’re often not looked out for. We try to work with importers that are sourcing that product with sustainability,” says McArthur.
As the only organic certified coffee in Lakeland, Patriot was chosen this year to be included in more than 500 Publix stores across Florida. “It was really a special opportunity. I feel really blessed to have been selected,” says McArthur.
Patriot’s reach extends beyond Florida. Every month, the company sends out coffee care packages to all armed services personnel. “Patriot was kind of a homage to people who are currently serving or have served in the armed forces,” says McArthur.
“Patriot was kind of a homage to people who are currently serving or have served in the armed forces.”
As a veteran, McArthur served in the Marine Corp Reserves from 2001 to 2007 and was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He has used coffee as a way to pay tribute to those who serve or have served through starting Operation Hero Salute.
“It’s a taste of something familiar, a taste from home. It’s just a small way for us to honor their service, show our appreciation and gratitude. I know it meant a lot to get stuff from strangers who would give their hearts to show appreciation for what you were doing.”
McArthur shares their future goals, include seeing their coffee in Publix continuing to be a success, as well as “getting better and better at what we are doing. We’re fortunate to have the two Black & Brews that enable us to showcase the coffee locally.”