As soon as they heard Golden Donut would once again serve its glazed circles of goodness, Jud Richardson and Fountain City Coffee’s other co-owners were reaching out.
The reason? They wanted to make a new special coffee blend for the beloved Columbus doughnut shop. The partnership, Richardson said, went smoothly.
Once the doughnut shop opens in the near future, customers will be able to order a cup of Glazed Over, an enveloping, light roast coffee with tasting notes of dark honey and toasted wheat.
“We were able to partner with them because they wanted to keep their coffee local,” Richardson told the Ledger-Enquirer as he stood in the coffee shop’s roastery on 6th Avenue. “We got together and talked about what they wanted out of their coffee, and I came up with a blend for them.”
It’s the shop’s latest effort to create a unique coffee that promotes a new Columbus attraction or locally-owned business. For Richardson, it’s important that Fountain City Coffee partners with other people trying to do good for the city.
“If I can be part of their success and they can be part of my success, I don’t see why everybody shouldn’t work together for the betterment of the community,” he said.
How Fountain City makes its specialty blends
Some entrepreneurs that get specialty blends are friends of Richardson. Some are newly-opening businesses, and others just happen to be right next door to the roastery.
The creation process involves some trial and error, and a few tasting sessions. To come up with tasting notes, Richardson and his team of tasters brew a batch of the new blend in a french press. Then begin the constant sips.
Fountain City created its first specialty blend for 11th and Bay Southern Table when the restaurant opened in 2014.
The coffee, Blue Heron, is multiple origin with lush, brown spices and kola nut tasting notes. The coffee Richardson made for the restaurant originally was a single-origin coffee that he said he “absolutely loved.”
But Richardson when wasn’t able to get that particular bean any longer, he attempted to recreate the flavor with several different beans. The result ended up better than the original, he said.
Richardson created High Strung, a twangy medium roast with velvet and caramelized maple tones, to celebrate Frank Schley IV’s Silvan Guitars. The small custom guitar company that specializes in handmade acoustic instruments and refurbishing vintage guitars is in the same building as Fountain City’s roastery.
“We felt like, we share a building so let’s share a roast,” he said. “Seemed like a fun idea.”
Richardson also tries to match the coffee’s characteristics to the business. For The Lee Tones, a 2nd Avenue vintage hair salon with 1970s vibes run by friend Brandi Judge, he created Disco Beans, a coffee that has a “big natural fruity” flavor, he said.
Occasionally, the Fountain City team will get a blend right on the first try, like they did with Golden Donut’s Glazed Over. They wanted to create something that was easy to drink, light and pleasant.
A combination of four different beans from the roughly 20 types housed at the roastery got the job done. They recently sold cups of the Glazed Over coffee behind the counter at Fountain City and quickly blew through the supply, Richardson said.
“We had to have a nice, light coffee that like coats your mouth and just be really unctuous,” he said. “Now, we’re just roasting (Glazed Over) to let people get hyped up about it.”
Veri Best Donuts, another beloved Columbus doughnut shop that recently opened on Broadway, also serves coffee from Fountain City.
It took a bit more effort to nail down Eighteen85, a medium roast blend for Hotel Indigo. Richardson created five different blends before the taste testing team settled on the final rich blend with notes of malted chocolate and roasted cashew. It’s served at the hotel’s restaurants and in rooms.
“Dealing with a hotel is very different than dealing with a restaurant or a doughnut shop,” Richardson said. “You have a different clientele base and you’re having to please a wider variety of people.”
The Blue Heron and Disco Beans coffees can be purchased online at Fountain City Coffee’s website. High Strung and Glazed Over will also be sold online once the labels come in, Richardson said.
What’s next for Fountain City?
Fountain City also has expanded its footprint at local grocery stores. The Fresh Market grocery store located on Bradley Park Drive sells Fountain City coffees.
Recently, Fountain City partnered with Macon, Georgia-based Z Beans Coffee to create the Peach Blossom Coffee brand. It is sold exclusively at Piggly Wiggly locations. Stores in Columbus and LaGrange carry bags, and in-store dispensers sell whole beans, Richardson said.
Fountain City will celebrate its 20-year anniversary in 2023, and Richardson said he’s excited that the coffee shop has become a Columbus staple over the years.
“I think it’s good that we’ve been to retain out importance in the community through everything that has gone on,” he said.