Lynchburg Favorite Joe Bean’s opens new location in Bedford
Joe Bean’s, Lynchburg’s favorite drive-thru coffee shop, welcomed a new location in Bedford County Feb. 8, bringing its “express espresso” to the far corners of the Lynchburg area.
Located at 1704 Forest Road in Bedford, the new Joe Bean’s venue sits atop the former Sweet Treats & Coffee Express site — a drive-thru coffee and pastry shop that closed in 2017.
“Once I found (the location) was available, we watched traffic flow, we did research on … how many people were in Bedford, and we just felt that when (Sweet Treats & Coffee Express) was leaving, we needed coffee there,” Joe Bean’s owner Linda Brown said. “It would be a good thing to maintain that because (the restaurant) provided coffee.”
Rianna Wilson, the manager of Joe Bean’s Bedford, said the new location has the same goal as the others — “to provide amazing products with fantastic service as quickly as possible.” Though the new location has been faced with the challenges of entering a new territory, Wilson said they are “way too blessed to complain about a thing” because their customers in Bedford have been welcoming and excited for the new location.
The new location is the company’s fifth shop — three are in Lynchburg and one is in Appomattox. Brown said they are still testing locations outside of Lynchburg and are happy to be a part of a new community.
“The best part is meeting the people in Bedford and becoming part of the community because we haven’t been part of the community, so it’s really exciting to engage and meet everybody,” Brown said.
Not only does Brown love her customers, but it has become clear that customers prefer Joe Bean’s for their morning pick-me-up. In fact, Joe Bean’s has won Lynchburg Living’s “Best Coffee” award every year since 2009, according to the magazine’s managing editor, Shelley Basinger.
“This new Joe Bean’s location is literally two minutes from my school, and I go there every morning,” Liberty graduate and Bedford Elementary School special education teacher Phoebe Gilbert said in a Facebook comment. “The employees are so personable and already know me by my first name, since I’m there so often.”
Joe Bean’s is no stranger to building relationships with its customers. In the early days of the coffee shop, a police officer visited the original Timberlake Road location to inform the staff that one of their regular customers had passed away, Brown said. The officer had a hunch that the deceased man had frequented the shop because the back seat of his truck was overflowing with Joe Bean’s coffee cups.
“(My favorite part of Joe Bean’s) is meeting the customers because you meet a variety of people,” Brown said. “They are so interesting. You get to know them, their lives. You get involved with them. That is (my) absolute most favorite thing.”
In addition to owning Joe Bean’s, Brown is a chiropractor at Brown Chiropractic and Wellness Center, where she specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Though her career focuses on health and wellness, she said it does not keep her from offering drinks and treats that customers want.
The coffee chain sells espresso-based drinks as well as smoothies, pastries and other sweets. However, Brown explained the shop offers healthier options for its customers such as sugar and milk alternatives. In addition, all the pastries are baked locally and without preservatives. The shop even boasts some gluten-free options.
While the coffee itself is not local, it is organic and created especially for Joe Bean’s.
“We have a roaster out of Portland, Oregon that private roasts for us,” Brown said. “Our house blend is created by us, and it’s organic fair trade … Money goes to the farmers, so it also gives back … (It is) strictly our blend that nobody else will have.”
Brown said that many of their drinks are industry standard like pumpkin spice lattes, but other drinks are unique to Joe Bean’s, such as the cake batter smoothie line and Paradise Punch, which was created by a crew member.
“We have a featured drink of the season, but it’s always available,” Brown said. “You can always get a pumpkin spice latte or a macchiato … We don’t take it away just because the season’s gone.”
Because of her love for espresso-based drinks, Brown wanted to bring high-quality, accessible coffee to Lynchburg. She first came up with the idea after visiting drive-thru coffee kiosks in Montana during a fly-fishing trip in 1999.
“It was like awesome coffee, and I’m like, ‘Woah, where do I get that in Lynchburg?’ Because you know, after you finish your fly-fishing trip, you’re going back home and like, ‘Well, I want that again,’” Brown said. “I thought, ‘Well, okay, I have 15 years of restaurant experience in my background.’ So, I said, ‘I can manage a restaurant. I just don’t know specialty coffee.’”
To learn more about the coffee industry, Brown hired Portland, Oregon-based coffee consultant Bob Cox to help her get the business up and running. The first Joe Bean’s building was built in Oregon and driven cross-country to its location on Timberlake Road, and Cox trained the staff how to craft espresso-based drinks and care for the equipment. He and Brown later married.
“My joke is I realized how much money I was paying (Cox), so I married him to save money,” Brown said.
Though Brown is the owner of the company, her husband helps with day-to-day operations, as he has more than 40 years of experience in the coffee industry. The two of them visit their five Joe Bean’s locations throughout the week, though both work other jobs.
“(Cox) has a wealth of knowledge that we draw on — that’s his strength,” Brown said. “My strength comes in on the operations, customer service … and restaurant operations (side of things). So, between the two of us, we make a good team.”