Spill the Beans


There’s a new trend brewing in the Lowcountry: A rise in local coffee roasters is creating a new wave of coffee connoisseurs. From Corner Perk and The Grind in Bluffton to School Grounds Coffee on Daufuskie Island, micro-roasters are filling Lowcountry cups and fueling a new appreciation for a good cup of joe.

Sure, we love espressos, lattes and cappuccinos, but also pour-overs, growlers of cold brews to sip on all week, and specialty signature roasts, often boasting local flavors. Much like the complexity, richness and terroirs of beloved wines, coffee roasters are developing flavor profiles that reflect the quality and origin of the beans, roasted to perfection.


Coffee Roasters1One of the first on the scene, Corner Perk became the coffee cornerstone of Old Town Bluffton — after all, its Pluff Mudd Coffee is described as “tasting like the Lowcountry” — and the place to grab a quick coffee or linger with friends over a cup at the coffeehouse, known for its Southern hospitality, good food and city vibe. Roasting is Corner Perk’s specialty. With 10 different coffees to choose from, they grind the beans and brew them while you wait, pouring the brightest of flavors into each cup and, as owner Josh Cooke says, “building community through artfully crafted goodness.”

A second Corner Perk location is in the works, opening soon at Buckwalter Place. It will bear the urban styling of an industrial Savannah factory — red brick and big windows — and feature the same menu as the Old Town location, plus serve up outdoor seating, beer, wine and classic brunch bloody marys. Cooke also is working on a new roasting facility in Port Royal, in northern Beaufort County, and renovating the adjacent Pluff Mudd Coffeehouse. Guests will be able to get the full experience at The Roastery, observing the roasting process firsthand and picking up a bag of beans to take home.


The Grind is doing its part to put Bluffton on the national coffee map. Owner and head roaster Ian Duncan recently brought home three medals from the Golden Bean Competition in Portland, Oregon, competing against roasters in big coffee states like Oregon, Washington and California. 

“This was our first year, and even though we only submitted three beans, each took home an award,” he says.

The award-winners are available at the Bluffton coffeehouse: Brazil Sul de Minus espresso and Tansania Tweego AA and Nicaragua Café Diego pour-overs. New barrel-aged roasts also are available, and The Grind is rolling out a new roast aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels. The many options are a testament to The Grind’s dedication to its craft.

“There are about a thousand ways to roast,” Duncan says. “Then there’s getting into it as a craft, with so many nuances and ways to perfect and change roasts to bring out new flavors.”

Coffee fans can sit and savor these brews in The Grind’s new, larger location coming soon to Sheridan Park, while those on the go can cruise through its drive-thru window for a quick to-go order.  The new location is expected to open this month.Try a lightly roasted Lip-Twitcher or a more mellow organic Honduran Rain Forest, with notes of honey, brown sugar and blackberry.


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On Daufuskie, a special blend of coffee lover and literary landmark can be found at School Grounds Coffee. House in the historic Mary Fields School building — the Daufuskie school featured in writer Pat Conroy’s iconic “The Water Is Wide” — School Grounds’ organic coffee comes from a Charleston roaster and small family farms across the United States that do fair trade with other countries.

Many patrons come to the shop for the coffee and stay for the history lesson.

“We turned it into a tribute to the Mary Fields teachers and students,” say proprietors Pam and Brian Cobb, who opened School Grounds Coffee about a year ago. “People fall in love with it because they love the history of it.”