Split Bean brings coffee to Lebanon Square

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Jan 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Those taking a walk around the Lebanon Square may soon be greeted by the smell of freshly roasted coffee. 

Local entrepreneur Chris Cox recently opened a physical location for Split Bean Roasting Co., where he roasts the beans used to brew up the hot and cold coffee beverages served in the store. 

“We’re trying to fulfill the need in the community for a local coffee shop. I do roast all the coffee. I get it in green, and I roast in the back of the shop. Anything you’re buying or drinking coffee-wise, I’ve roasted it here,” Cox said.

Several espresso drinks will be available, as well as the Haywire roast – a higher caffeine blend roasted at breakfast level – and No Buzz – a decaf blend that Cox said uses a process that doesn’t leave a bitter taste. 

“It’s a Swiss water process, which is a gentler process of getting the caffeine out of the beans, so you maintain a lot of the flavor, but it extracts the caffeine. Some processes use more of a chemical base, which is what leaves that bitter taste.”

Split Bean’s other roasts like the Death Shot bourbon flavor will also be available at the store, as well as tea, sandwiches and some quick-grab items.

Cox bags the tea himself, and chicken salad for sandwiches is made fresh from chicken slow-roasted in herbs with mayo, dried cherries and pecans. Some of the tea blends include chamomint – a blend of chamomile and peppermint – a cold-and-flu brew that boosts the immune system and a winter blend of cinnamon apple and orange.  

Cox started a different coffee shop in 2013, after he returned home from serving in the Army overseas. He opened that coffee shop on West Main Street, but wasn’t able to keep it open due to some family hardship.

“Family-wise, things with that shop were just a lot. My second son had just been born, but then my mom’s health was going downhill, and my brother’s health was going downhill. There was just a lot that piled on, and to kind of cap it off, we had a house fire and ended up having to live an hour farther away. I made the decision at that point to cut the ties with that shop and focus where I needed to focus.”

Even with everything that had happened, he still loved roasting coffee. Cox developed the Split Bean Roasting Co. from a home-built system that included a gas grill and slow-roasting drum. 

“It kind of started as a hobby and developed into a roasting business, kind of by word of mouth, and it just grew from there. Last year, Lebanon Wine and Spirits started carrying our coffee in small bags in their shop,” Cox said. 

After a few years, things have settled down for the Cox family.

“Life re-centered, I have a lot more solid foundation now than where I was when I started the first one. My youngest daughter is now older than my oldest son was when we started the first shop. It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but when I talk through it I realize a lot has happened since then. I got myself back to this point because this is the direction that I do want to go, and I want to be able to bring it to the community because it’s something that we’ve needed.”

Now, with a new roasting machine and physical location, Cox hopes to create a warm and welcoming environment for the community. The space includes a children’s play area, cozy chairs and plenty of tables. The cedar wood on the bar came from Grant Cedar Mill, and the barn door bathroom partition was part of the original carriage-making operation in the historic building. 

“Eventually I’d like to expand into doing things like game nights, bring a board game and play with the family. Maybe do story nights for the kids. There are plenty of things that I would like to do with the space. I want to make it available to everybody,” Cox said.

Split Bean is at 110 E. Main St. on the east side of the Lebanon Square. Hours will initially be Mondays through Thursdays from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. The shop will be closed Sundays. 

For more information, visit splitbeanroasting.com or email splitbeanroasting@gmail.com.

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