Bayou Eats | Corner Coffee + Provisions
article by VANELIS RIVERA
photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK
In an attempt to extend their love of coffee to West Monroe, Madison Corey Coates, and his wife Kaylea Coates recently opened Corner Coffee + Provisions. Its cozy layout, chic interior, and superb cups of smooth, steaming coffee provide the kind of comfort and relaxation you’ll want to sink into. In fact, a bright yellow neon sign mounted on a crisp white wall says it all—Take a break.
Originally from Farmerville, Madison has lived in West Monroe for the past five years. “We both have always wanted a coffee shop,” he says. At the time, both were working in ministry at Christ Church, and though a fulfilling experience, they wanted to do something more for the community. “We love coffee shops, we just like culture and coffee.” Sporadic conversations about the future rolled into consistent and thoughtful planning. They weighed the pros and cons of owning a business carefully. While they recognized the plentiful coffee market in the area, they believed what they had to offer outweighed the statistics. Even then, they considered it more judicious to keep on the lookout for an existing coffee shop that may be ready to pass the torch, as it would provide a stepping stone that they could unleash their imagination and craft. In fact, they had one in mind. Having enjoyed the fellowship they experienced time and again at the West Monroe staple Corner Coffeehouse, an establishment spanning close to seventeen years, they often imagined taking over and giving it the Coates’ spin. “So we just kind of started talking to people,” says Madison. Their visualizations quickly manifested when one day they were in line at Corner Coffeehouse and the manager casually approached them and asked whether they were interested in buying. “So it was kind of like a God thing for us. We just felt like everything fell into place,” says Kaylea. It didn’t take long for them to make an offer. It was the middle of May, and three months later they opened up Corner Coffee + Provisions in a new location.
The pursuit of a new location was guided by their love for coffee shop culture. Madison, in particular, pulled ideas from his coffee shop excursions when he lived in Dallas, thinking of the times he’d stay at an establishment for hours doing work. “A coffee shop with a great vibe and aesthetic is a place you want to be,” says Madison, adding, “so if I wasn’t at work, I was at a coffee shop.” This ability to bring in and foster community is one of the attributes the couple appreciated and loved about the former Corner Coffeehouse. “There’s a lot of good community,” he says. Considering the community building they wanted the new establishment to foster, they began looking for a more spacious location, finding their current 3000 square feet coffee home tucked at the corner of McMillan Rd and Bell Ln. “It was very scary envisioning this place,” says Kaylea, referring to fashioning an interior from scratch. Working with a blank canvas can be stress-inducing, but they approached the challenge one piece at a time. “My dad and I basically just did all of the work ourselves,” says Madison. The transformation was significant. The former sandwich and frozen yogurt shop went from its grape purple and neon green walls, to clean and bright white walls. “We had friends putting together furniture,” says Kaylea. Madison, her father-in-law, and a friend poured the concrete on the curved order countertop, while her brother-in-law crafted the butcher’s block tables placed in front of wood benches that Madison’s grandfather built. “Most of the time, I just swept up all of their messes,” laughs Kaylea. Adding, “It was a friends and family rally.”
As far as vibe, the couple aimed for a luminescent, polished, modern space that would awaken the senses. They selected timeless pieces of furniture that are both comfortable and stylish—black metal bar stools facing the window storefront, a large wooden dining table with black spindle back dining chairs, two rattan cane fabric armchairs surrounding a chic wood coffee table placed in front of a mid-century leather tan sofa. The light and welcoming space, characterized by the white walls and light wood accents, is the kind of space that makes you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home. A few of their regulars can attest to this, especially the friend groups that arrive around eight o’clock and stay until ten. “They’ve been doing this for ten years,” says Madison, referring to the former Corner Coffeehouse customers. “It was cool seeing that our community trusts us. They were open to the changes every time.” Considering their customer base as important to the establishment as their coffee brews, interactions with customers also extend to sharing ideas with the purpose of pushing things forward in their establishment. “It’s been amazing seeing them get on board with our vision and support us with where we are taking it,” says Madison.
The already optimal hangout space is made even better if you are holding one of Corner Coffee + Provisions’ snazzy clay mugs brimming with any of the brews on their menu. Whether you’re craving an espresso, specialty latte, or classic cappuccino, your taste buds are in good hands as the business uses Onyx Coffee Lab roasted beans, a café and roastery based in Northwest Arkansas. The roast used on the brews is the Onyx Monrach, a great “middle of the road” roast designed to work well with milk. On drip, treat yourself to the Onyx Southern Weather, a complex and sophisticated blend with hints of citrus and full-bodied chocolate. Also, keep an eye out for seasonal blends that get rotated on their drip bar. One original Corner Coffeehouse roast that the couple has kept is the Southern Pecan roast, a customer favorite. As far as personal favorites go, Kaylea’s go-to cup is a flat white with honey and oat milk. “And that’s how I judge any coffee shop I go to,” she says, admitting that she developed a refined coffee palate when living in Australia for three years having experienced their “very deep coffee culture.” Keeping true to the classics, as a self-proclaimed “simple man,” Madison enjoys either a vanilla cappuccino or a cortado, “Nothing in it, just plain.” While not much will make Kaylea stray from a flat white, she enthusiastically reveals that their cups of frappuccino are the perfect sweet treat. Their Samoa frappuccino, based on the Girl Scouts Samoas Cookies, is one such luxurious delight. “It will blow your mind!” The couple is aware that while there is a substantial market for craft coffee (i.e. eclectic latte art), at their establishment they are striving to balance craft along with whatever you want. “We have latte art and we have whipped cream,” laughs Kaylea.
Of course, the rebrand of their establishment promises a bit more than coffee, and some of their provisions have been readily sought after, particularly with the early morning crowd. You can’t go wrong with the pastry selections, such as the mildly sweet Monkey Muffin—a fusion of banana, nut, and chocolate—and the Cranberry Orange Muffin with its balanced tartness. Their breakfast biscuits, croissants, and kolaches (jalapeño or regular) are made in-house and baked every morning. But, thus far, Kaylea is “obsessed” with the açaí bowls. Customers can choose from the three bowls on the menu and the option to “build your own” with up to six toppings. The hardiest bowl is aptly named Elvis Bowl and is topped with bananas, peanut butter, granola, cacao nibs, coconut shreds, and Nutella drizzle. Meanwhile, the fruitiest is the Health Bowl—strawberries, blueberries, goji berries, almond butter, granola, and coconut shreds.
“We’re doing weddings and events,” enthuses Madison, who already has a few weddings lined up for the fall. From fashioning a coffee bar to catering the event, they can meet the vision of any customer with their many goods and expertise. Impress guests with a bride and groom latte or a picturesque display of mini açaí bowls as party treats everyone will love. They’ve even been known to decorate their charming food trailer with an impressive garland of balloons matching the color scheme of any event.
The couple emphasizes that welcoming people is part of their culture. “We want to make impact here, not just with the customers, but the biggest reward of having the place is being able to invest in the culture of our team,” says Madison, who makes sure to provide job opportunities for people in recovery. Kaylea, who is still in ministry, adds, “We love people . . . And whether that’s serving them coffee or a conversation or just a safe place to be, we’re here for it.” With an eagerness to bring people together, Madison and Kaylea want the Northeast Louisiana community to know that Corner Coffee + Provisions is a place where they encourage everyone, from all walks of life, to take a break, especially if it involves a coffee in hand.