It goes without saying that every small to mid-sized town ought to have at least one stand-out, hip coffee shop (that’s not a franchise). Factors that make privately owned coffee shops unique are the stories behind their conception, where the beans come from, and how they create blends that are as unique as every snowflake that falls from the sky in winter. In Anniston, Alabama, a permanent coffee shop such as described above was sorely lacking until February of this year, when Called Coffee Company laid down permanent roots. From cart to truck to pop-up at Quintard Mall to its permanent location at 1400 Quintard Avenue in the heart of Anniston, this contemporary establishment is poised to reel in Calhoun County coffee-holics in droves.
What better place to conceptualize a coffee shop is there than Peru? Jerod Snider, his wife Hannah, and their daughter had spent time in Peru involved in missions work with a non-profit, helping with food distribution, installing water filters, and planting a non-denominational church. One day, a lady from the newly planted church brought Jerod a cup of coffee which he’d later define as “specialty coffee.” While he was admittedly no expert on coffee, one sip of that brew was enough to let him know that it was uniquely excellent. He shipped some to a coffee roaster friend in Birmingham, and was surprised when that friend called him and declared, “We want all you can get [of this coffee]!”
Jerod learned a few things from this chance encounter with coffee greatness. First, the coffee was an 84-85 point coffee. For clarification, a specialty coffee between 80 and 84.99 is considered “very good,” while one with a score of 85 to 89.99 is considered “excellent.” It’s in the dream of coffee roasters far and wide to obtain beans with such a high score. Second, he saw a dream unfolding right before his eyes. Jerod and his wife decided that they wanted to bring this very special coffee to their hometown.
They started small with an espresso machine on a coffee cart in 2018, roasting and selling bags of coffee and establishing a presence at local events such as Noble Street Fest. With their initial success, they invested in a coffee truck in 2019 which enabled them to enlarge their sphere of influence. Then more good fortune headed their way in 2021 in the form of winning a seasonal contest hosted by Quintard Mall to set up a pop-up shop during the holidays. Called Coffee Company had a temporary space to gain exposure, build their customer base further, and sell merch–tees, hoodies, mugs, and bags of their specialty coffee. All this, while they remodeled a location they had secured on Quintard Avenue.
When you walk into the bright, open Called Coffee shop, there are definitely vibes of cool, sleek modernity. From the pale wood tables, stools, signage, light fixtures, and trim, contrasted with the white chairs and tables, brick in the counter, and an olive-green sidewall, there’s a warm, welcome, spaciousness to the shop that’s quite relaxing. The show-stopping area is to the left–the large, modern roaster, framed by a mural wall with scenes of a coffee farmer, a truck, and coffee beans spilling from a roaster. These images celebrate the story behind Called Coffee Company.
For customers wishing to witness the roasting process, Jerod shared that he currently does it at night due to the extra heat that the roaster generates. But the star of the show–the coffee–is available in many forms. Their house coffee actually comes from a farm in Honduras–it’s a sweet blend with notes of chocolate and nut that’s popular with regular customers. They offer seasonal specials, and right now those include a Vanilla Mint Latte, a Coconut Mocha (which many of his customers have compared to an Almond Joy candy bar), a Mint Lavender Matcha Latte, and an Affogato–an espresso topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Jerod said that for folks wanting to go easy on the caffeine, the Matcha (with faint grassy notes) is a good choice, which causes fewer jitters and sits well in the stomach. They also offer several regular and herbal teas, some caffeine-free.
Their regular drink menu features classics like Americano, Espresso, Cappuccino, Cortado, and Latte, while they also have an array of flavored Lattes that come hot, iced, or blended. Flavors include Vanilla, Caramel, White Mocha, Mocha, Matcha, Praline Mocha, Honey Lavender, Vanilla Chai, and sugar-free versions of vanilla and caramel.
While there’s something for everyone at Called Coffee Company, Jerod personally prefers more complex specialty coffees. Some of the ones he sells feature fruity notes such as strawberry, watermelon, and plum. He strives to accommodate the guests’ tastes–staff can make drinks sweeter, half-sweet, and so on upon request.
Fresh salads are in the works for folks wishing to dine in at lunch, but for now, they source their pastries from a city favorite–Artisinal Baked Goods. Whether you have a hankering for a coffee cake, bacon cheddar, or blueberry scone, or perhaps a smoked gouda, chocolate, or butter croissant, Called Coffee has you covered. You can even choose from breakfast empanadas sourced from Heirloom Taco in Jacksonville. The choices are bacon, egg and cheese; chorizo, egg, and cheese; or potato, bean, and cheese.
As Jerod talked to me about the ins and outs of the shop, I helped myself to a chorizo, egg, and cheese empanada (I love empanadas!) and a hot cup of mocha. I hate to even bring that chain in Oxford into this review, except to say, Called Coffee’s mocha outshines that of Starbucks hands-down!
As to the cherry on top of this project, Jerod defies Shakespeare’s jaded question, “What’s in a name?” with the name of his and Hannah’s cherished shop. Called Coffee Company is more than your average moniker. As he shared, “We feel like it’s something we’re called to do, and we also feel like every person–not just in the Christianity realm–is created to do something specific. We try to inspire people, whether they work here or are customers or the farmers, to know they have a purpose in life, and to help point them in that direction.”
Well said. Take that, William Shakespeare!
How are they doing? As far as traffic goes, Jerod said that Quintard gets about as much traffic as the Oxford Exchange area. On how busy they are, he joked, “We stay busy. This is supposed to be the slow time of year, and if this is our slow time, we’re good!” They are making plans of building a porch with seating and a fire pit behind the shop for possible live music. And besides their $14 bags of coffee already for sale, they will be launching compostable K-cups in a few weeks which will pack a mean-bean punch in terms of a single cup of superb coffee.
You can partake of the nectar of the coffee gods at Called Coffee Company, 1400 Quintard Ave., Anniston between the hours of 6am – 7pm Monday thru Friday, or 8am – 4pm Saturday.