By Emma Kent // Photos by Lauren Wood
If you’ve been in Relics Antique Marketplace in Tupelo, you’ve probably seen Collin and Kelsey McIntyre behind the Lost and Found Coffee bar brewing up specialty drinks and coffee for customers. They served their first cup of coffee at Relics in June 2018. Nearly a year later, the couple has something new brewing: Coffee Concepts Workshops.
The workshops are designed to welcome people to the world of craft coffee through education, tastings and practicing the best methods for brewing.
“They are a fun and educational way to learn about something so simple and at the same time so complicated,” Collin said.“Ultimately, the goal is to broaden their scope of knowledge when it comes to coffee.”
The second Monday in May marked their fifth workshop and their second pour-over workshop. Pour-over is a simple coffee brewing method that involves manually doing the work of a coffee pot: Heat the water to an optimal temperature, place grounds in a filter over a cup and pour the hot water slowly over the grounds to brew a single cup of coffee.
The most important factors in brewing a high-quality cup of coffee are: brew ratio, grind size, water temperature and brew time, along with the quality of the coffee itself, of course.
“If you have those, you can create a really high-quality cup of coffee,” Collin said.
So, the better you can control those factors, the better your cup of coffee will taste. In a pour-over, you control every aspect of the brewing process, which is why Collin wants to share the science behind the method with other coffee drinkers.
So far, the Lost and Found workshops have included coffee drinkers of all kinds: some people who drink coffee at home from a traditional coffee pot, some new to coffee and some self-proclaimed “coffee nerds.” No matter who’s in attendance, the time is spent exploring the factors that contribute to a good cup of coffee.
They start with what Collin jokingly calls his “lecture” that introduces attendees to the workshop’s theme and describes what they’ll be doing. At the May pour-over workshop, Collin delved briefly into the history of the pour-over method and of coffee brewing. Everyone then got to do several pour-overs and taste the coffee.
“They get to see it done, and we do a pretty in-depth breakdown,” he said.
Lost and Found has also done a “Cupping 101” workshop that focuses more on the flavor profiles of different coffees. Cupping involves learning the notes, flavors and aromas found in each type of coffee and then learning to describe those things and gaining an understanding about where they come from.
“You’re developing your personal preferences,” Collin said.
Although they’re doing these workshops, Collin recognizes that he and Kelsey are by no means the end-all-be-all authority on coffee. They simply want people to have a deeper appreciation for coffee.
“We get to open people’s eyes to really great coffee. We’re not better than, we just want to share what we know,” he said.“It makes your cafe experience better when you come here, when you’re on vacation, when you’re traveling abroad or just when you’re right down the road.”
Community through coffee
Right now, they’re keeping the workshops small with about six spots per session. Tickets must be booked in advance on the Lost and Found website.
“We do it in a private setting so there’s more personal interaction,” Collin said. “It’s very relaxed.”
The intimate nature of the workshops is a window into the McIntyres’ mission with Lost and Found. They see coffee as a vehicle for service and connection.
“We have a desire to serve — that’s what this is for us,” Collin said of the business.
When they first started, Lost and Found Coffee was just a small counter, really more of a cart, located just inside the entrance of Relics. The menu was limited — drip coffee, cold brew and pour over coffee — but the McIntyres’ enthusiasm was not. That enthusiasm was what got them through some of their tougher days when they were just starting out.
“There were plenty of days, even Saturdays, that we went home with zero dollars,” Collin said.
Their turning point was Celebration Village in 2018, where they set up their coffee stand in hopes of spreading the word about Lost and Found and making some money. They spent every penny Lost and Found had on inventory for the event. It was a big risk, but it paid off. They ended up running out of coffee three times and selling more coffee than they thought was possible.
“There was a comma in the number of beverages we sold,” Collin said. “It was insane.”
Coming up on the one-year mark, Lost and Found Coffee will soon expand their cafe space inside Relics to include seating for up to 24 people. Collin works at the cafe six days per week, with Kelsey helping out most days as well. Kelsey also works two other jobs. It can be a grind, but they love what they do. Perhaps more than the coffee itself, what they love is interacting with customers and building community right there at their cafe counter. For them, coffee is personal.
According to Collin, 99 percent of coffee is hand-picked and a lot of it is also processed and roasted by hand. Lost and Found is partnered with Black & White Coffee Roasters out of Wake Forest, North Carolina. All four of the coffees Lost and Found sells are roasted by Black & White. They get them delivered to them about four days after the beans have been roasted, so the coffee is as fresh as it can be when it arrives in Tupelo.
Black & White’s coffee is also fair trade, meaning that the workers who helped produce it are granted fair wages and a good working environment. This also means Lost and Found customers can feel good about their purchase when they buy coffee.
“It’s been cared for lovingly all the way to your cup and that, to me, deserves a little bit of respect,” he said.