Mojo Coffee House is of humble beginnings. The first location was opened post-Katrina on the corner of Magazine and Race Street in 2006, occupying the old location of Rue de la Course coffee shop that resided there before. Demian Estevez, co-owner with Angee Jackson, opened the shop with little money. As Demian remarks, “equipment and supplies were bought as needed.”
Since then, Mojo has seen success on many fronts. In 2012, a second location opened its doors on Freret Street, in close proximity to Lusher and Math and Science High Schools and Tulane and Loyola Universities. More impressively, Mojo unveiled a roasting facility in 2016, which is now located on Tchoupitoulas Street.
I talked to Demian briefly on the phone to get at the specifics of their operation.
After a certain point, coffee trends started to change, and Mojo Coffee began looking outside of New Orleans to source their product. “I still wasn’t finding the coffee I was looking for,” said Demian, reflecting on the time before the roastery. The opening of the roastery not only allowed Mojo to fine-tune the flavors of their coffees and hit the desired notes but also keep their product local.
Mojo roasts its beans through small-batch roasting, a process in which the beans are sifted through by hand, 6 to 8 pounds at a time. This allows close control over the flavor profile that adheres to their strict quality standards, unlike large-scale productions in which the batches are processed in sizes of up to 250 kilos at a time. The results of this attention to detail are well measured. In 2016, the reputable Coffee Review rated 4 of their roasts above 90, the highest rating going to their Kenya Othaya Peaberry at 94.
Mojo Coffee has since been featured in multi-roaster programs across the country and is also sold and supplied to other coffee shops and restaurants across the city of New Orleans; such as Satsuma Cafe, Rue de la Course, Coffee Science, Maypop, One Stone Cafe, and Avenue Cafe.
With respect to the future, Demian hopes to sell more coffee outside of Louisiana and start competing in roasting competitions around the country. “I would like to see New Orleans coffee in other states,” he said, commenting on how coffee from other states is readily found here in Louisiana. Other than that, they are quite happy to continue “kicking ass” with their two locations right here at home.
In this way, Mojo Coffee truly is a local, family-owned establishment that works to support local business and promote ethical sourcing of goods. Ethical sourcing is a very important practice that assures sustainability, the fair treatment of farmers and workers, and careful consideration of the environment. I, personally, couldn’t think of a better place to spend that daily $5 to get a bite to eat or satisfy your caffeine fix.