With so many restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in Uptown
Charlotte, you rarely have to look outside of Center City to find a place to
dine.I recently decided to take a day
trip to Charlotte’s neighbor to the west, Shelby, to expand my knowledge of
some of North Carolina’s small businesses.
The focus of my visit was on Lily Bean Coffee.I became aware of Lily Bean through a high
school classmate, Meghan Stout, who just so happens to own the shop with her
husband, Chad.Maybe that makes me a
little biased, but I was impressed the moment I walked in.
Lily Bean Coffee is located at 108 East Warren Street in the
heart of Uptown Shelby.Who knew that a
city other than Charlotte referred to their downtown as Uptown?While I love our city, I was pleasantly
surprised by being able to park on the street for free while I checked out the
coffee shop in Shelby.
As I entered the shop, I noticed that they had a large crowd
for a Saturday morning.While some
customers were settled in to booths, there were also a few at the register
deciding on their purchase.The green
walls were decorated with artwork created by local artists.The art can be purchased at the shop and
pricing is listed discreetly beneath each creation.
The furniture throughout the shop varies from soft seating
to high top cocktail tables.While this
Saturday morning had a laidback lounge vibe, the space could also be utilized
for a small business meeting or job interview.
I kept it simple and ordered a latte during my visit.It was the first weekend in September, so a
Pumpkin flavored coffee would have been the obvious choice.I mentioned this popular Autumn flavor to
Meghan and she told me they serve it all year round.I repeat – Pumpkin flavored coffee all year
My latte was prepared at the perfect temperature to consume
immediately.None of that waiting around
and blowing on it to get lower than the temperature of the sun.I must add, though, that it remained warm
through consumption and didn’t cool off to a point where it lost its appeal.
While enjoying my coffee with Meghan, several customers
stopped by to say hello on their way in or goodbye on their way out.I definitely got the feeling that they see a
lot of regulars.It was like the bar
where everyone knows your name.
Since I know Meghan has a degree in Communications and holds
a full time job in Marketing and Advertising (in addition to a few part time
gigs), I had to ask “Why did you and your husband decide to open a coffee
shop?”Her answer may surprise you.She said she gained interest after searching
the internet on how to brew coffee beans.
She started doing the research and experimentation on her
own.Admittedly, some of the first
batches weren’t perfect, but the interest was there and she kept trying
it.As her roasting technique improved,
she decide to take the plunge and open a coffee shop with her husband.
They made the decision to open a coffee shop at the
beginning of the week and took ownership of an existing space by the end of the
week.That monumental week was nearly
five years ago.They are now in a larger
space (the previously mentioned 108 East Warren Street) and have recently
expanded to a second location.This
second location is drive thru only in Midtown Shelby at 711 East Marion Street.
If coffee isn’t a part of your daily routine, you might also
be interested in the fact that Lily Bean Coffee occasionally partners with
Newgrass Brewing Company.Newgrass is
another small North Carolina business located in Shelby.They are just around the corner from Lily
Bean at 213 South Lafayette Street.The
close proximity makes for the perfect partnership.While the brewery’s selection often rotates,
you can likely find the Lily Bean Golden “Stout” on the menu.This golden beer is infused with cold coffee
extract from Lily Bean as well as cocoa and vanilla flavors.While it may not have the typical coloring of
a stout, the name just made sense based on the coffee shop owners’ last name.
My time in Uptown Shelby was well spent.Not only did I get to see a classmate that I
haven’t seen in over ten years, I was able to experience their laidback culture
and dining.When you live in Charlotte
and need your coffee fix fast, you’ll likely go to the closest shop.However, if you find yourself in Shelby, stop
by Uptown or drive through Midtown for the local flavor of Lily Bean.