Picking Up Exquisite Cajun Coffee at Mello Joy Coffee

A love of dark-roasted coffee seems to be one of the things that the Acadian people brought to Louisiana when they migrated from what is now Quebec, and Louisiana is justly famous for its dark-roasted coffee, either with or without chicory, a plant that was added to coffee to stretch it out during the Civil War, when Union blockades made coffee difficult to get. New Orleans has produced several famous dark coffee brands, including French Market, Cafe Du Monde and Community, the last of which has become popular in other states as well. But Lafayette’s Mello Joy Coffee, which bills itself “The Original Cajun Coffee” is not as well known, although it was founded in 1936. While for 40 years it was the favorite coffee of Cajun country, it rapidly disappeared after 1976 when the original owner sold it to a regional competitor. In 2000, Mello Joy Coffee reappeared in Louisiana when the company was reborn under new owners, and its popularity rapidly returned. However, as I had checked stores in Lafayette, I could not find any bags of Mello Joy whole beans, only the ground coffee. So I called the company headquarters and learned that the whole beans are sold only on the website, or at the distribution warehouse, which they allow individuals to visit if they want to purchase beans. As I was heading out of town to go back to Memphis, I stopped by the warehouse to purchase the beans. They come in four-pound bags at $21, nothing short of a steal (contrast the average Starbucks whole beans at $13 for 12-ounces). And it’s really good, I might add. Mello Joy also, incidentally, has got to be the only coffee with their own musical group, the Mello Joy Boys, who are an alter ego for the legendary Lost Bayou Ramblers.

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