Growing up on Scopena Plantation in South Bossier, Peter Lyons loved gathering around the table with his family. He said that mealtime was where they all came together.
“We all shared our opinions about everything–good, bad or indifferent. We had an opinion.”
This began his love affair with food, and more specifically, his love affair with coffee. He remembers enjoying coffee milk with his dad back in the day.
“I would read the funny papers. He would read the business section. It was a bonding time.”
Through his upbringing, Lyons was given the confidence he needed to become an entrepreneur.
“I think our upbringing in general led us to believe we could be entrepreneurs…we were always a part of a family that encouraged us to branch out and take those risks.”
So in 1998, Lyons made his own path and moved from South Bossier to Los Angeles. He found himself drawn to the coffee industry there. He thinks his southern upbringing helped him in LA.
“It clicked,” he said. “I think that southern upbringing and that southern hospitality helped. Typically we can talk just about anything and that’s so genuine to my southern upbringing. Going to Los Angeles where it was so fake…I think people were just engaged and it was fun for me and fun for the guests there.”
Soon, Lyons started upping his game and seeking out education on his own so he could hone in on his craft. He started roasting for other companies like Whole Foods Market. It was in LA that Lyons studied the best practices for harvesting coffee, how the industry is treating the farmers and how to better respond to the needs of the customer base.
After decades of gaining experience and education, Lyons decided to move back to South Bossier. Now, he is just weeks away from opening his own roastery in Shreveport.
“I wanted to come back to the area because I have a built-in infrastructure having grown up here.”
In January, Lyons started selling whole bean and ground coffee at C&C Mercantile & Lighting on Line Avenue. He sells it through his company Lyons Pride Coffee. This is his only retail spot so far, but it has allowed him to brew samples and interact with his customers. Lyons has always had a passion for things that connect us to one another. That’s why coffee seemed like the perfect fit. He says there’s a lot of neutral ground when it comes to having a cup of coffee and a conversation with another person.
“In this day and age where things are so volatile, it’s just nice to have something that brings us together as humans.”
Working in coffee has allowed Lyons to utilize his excessive energy.
“You grow up taking all this medication for ADHD and I thought, ‘Why am I taking all this medication? Why don’t I just find a job that allows me to have a short-term memory. Coffee is that. Every transaction is 45 seconds.’ I got this. I know it’s a joke, but it worked for me. Short and intense encounters…I love them.”
Education has always been important for Lyons. He says that knowledge is power and he is always trying to help give that to others. One of his main goals for his coffee company is to work with autistic, down syndrome and blind individuals. He worked with the Special Olympics for years and wanted to continue that work in the coffee industry. He hopes to validate a marginalized workforce through his coffee company and through working with local higher education and high schools.
Recently, Lyons has worked with the Louisiana Association for the Blind (LAB). A couple days a week, he will bring in students from LAB to help them learn how to brew coffee.
“I had a gentleman named Brandon come in last week and he helped me brew coffee. Customers didn’t know he was blind. He felt amazing and he organized a training at LAB. It was a sensory class to teach them about flavor and tastes. It was fantastic.”
Lyons doesn’t want to open a full cafe until he has a year under his belt. He wants people to get the word out about how amazing his coffee is first. But when he does open a cafe, he says Bossier could be the perfect spot for it.
“If I open a cafe, I think it would do better in Bossier because that sense of family. The communal aspect that I’m so passionate about thrives in Bossier.”
In the meantime, Lyons will continue to help create great coffee experiences for his customers at C&C.
“My focus really is to bring education to regular coffee consumers and demystify the complexity of what coffee is or that you need a $2,000 coffee machine to enjoy good coffee. I have pretty good coffee with a $20 Mr. Coffee. If I can show you how to have better quality coffee, then the rest is all your journey.”
Once the roastery opens, Lyons hopes to host private roasting classes among other topics. You can follow Lyons Pride Coffee on Facebook to keep up-to-date on future events.